The Complete Guide on how to deal with overwhelm… Part 3

… for Women who are still wearing the cape and trying to fly! 

screaming woman

Over the last two weeks I’ve looked at the causes of overwhelm and how we might start to shake off old patterns and limiting beliefs that are keeping us stuck in a paradigm that says it is possible to do everything that we feel needs to be done, all the time! I hope that you are starting to see that in actual fact it isn’t possible because (believe it or not) you are only human! It’s time to start shaking those superhero tendencies. This week I’ve put together 10 more tips to help you get back to being a mere mortal – doing what you can in the time available and loving it because you know it is, what is. And remember the worst thing would be to turn this into an overwhelming task by trying to do everything that’s suggested. Just focus on one initially – you can always come back to the list later once that one is working for you.


11. Get to know when you are most productive. We all have times when we work better, are more focused and are more productive. For me it is either first thing in the morning (before 9am) or late in the evening? This is the time when I am most creative and I can think at lightning speed. Then there are times when I am sluggish and I am better suited to routine tasks that don’t require much original thought. Knowing when you are ‘on your branch’ as a friend of mine used to say and using it to your advantage can really help you reduce feelings of overwhelm by increasing your productivity.


12. Make your environment work for you. Feng shuiyour environment; that is create a work environment that reflects clarity order and focus. When we work in messy surroundings not only is it more difficult to find the things you need quickly, (I know there are those people who swear that they have a system to deal with their mess – but trust me, it’s a delusion and no matter how good your system you will be a million times more efficient if you have a well ordered environment) visual clutter can interfere with your ability to focus on what you are doing. A long time ago I learnt that the secret to maintaining a clutter free environment is to put things in boxes labelled “stuff” with a date on. It’s the fastest way to organise things and the only thing you have to remember is roughly when you put it in the box. Sorting through a box labelled stuff may take a while but it is a lot less disheartening than having mountains of things to put away and never feeling like you have the time to do it.


Almost as good as the “stuff” box is the “B.I.N”. Getting over the urge to keep everything just in case is so liberating. If you are unable to do it in one step do it in two – create a “just in case box” to put those just in case things in it. Every 3 months (6 at the most) throw away anything you’ve not used for that period.


13. Beat your resistance gremlin at its own game.  We all have things that we habitually do to distract ourselves when we feel overwhelmed and unable to focus on the tasks that need doing. For me I suddenly get an urge to tidy up my home or improve my website. Once I realised this, whenever I find myself doing these activities I recognise that I am feeling overwhelmed and take steps to bring myself back into balance, i.e. using one of the tips on the list. Being aware of your resistance gremlin stops you sabotaging yourself with unproductive busyness.


15. Reclaim your ability to just say “no”. There was a time when assertiveness training for women was all the rage and part of being assertive meant being able to say “no” and mean “no” without feeling any guilt. Perhaps we all got so used to the theory that we forgot to put it into practice!


Saying “yes” so that you please everyone is a straight road to overwhelm and resentment – If you say “yes” when you really should have said “no” (because the reality is that you can’t fit in one more task) it builds resentment against yourself and others. “They should have known that I was busy – if they loved and cared about me they wouldn’t have asked” goes the voice in our head! Well if you loved and cared about you; you would have said “No – sorry I can’t take that on right now”.


Saying “no” is a no to the task or request for your time – not a rejection of the person. Separating it in this way can make it feel easier to say “no”, especially if you feel relationships are at stake.  Another thing you can do to reduce feelings of overwhelm is to revisit previous commitments with new eyes. Review your To Do list and ask yourself if you can simply say “no” to any of the tasks. It is your task list and you are in control of it so choosing to cross things off by saying “no” now is a gift you can give yourself.


16. Create a blank canvas. Even if you have Feng shui’d your environment overwhelm often leads to a cluttered desk, as different pieces of paper relating to all the tasks you keep starting pile up. Not to mention all the post it notes of things you now have to do because you didn’t say “no”! Clearing your desk is like starting with a blank canvas; it opens the imagination and presents a universe of possibilities. Clear your desk, start afresh – it will super charge your feelings of being in control of what you have to do. Throw away any papers that you no longer need – put all the To-d0s on post it notes in a single list or better still see if they should really be a no and discard them.


17. Re prioritise daily! Although we need to be aware of the difference between what is urgent and what is important and where the two coalesce; it is helpful to re-prioritise each day by asking yourself “what is the most important task that needs to be done today in order to keep moving towards my goal?”  That way you can feel comfortable that you are dealing with urgent emergencies as necessary and staying on track. 


18. Nike knows the way!  Possibly the most successful slogan of all time is the Nike’s ‘just do it!’ and sometimes this is the best advice.  Take a deep breath bear down and get on with it.  Overwhelm can be the result of putting off things that you don’t fancy doing.  The article you promised to write for guest blog, booking your 1st webinar; completing that CV update, or calling that organisation to book a speaking date.  Stop procrastinating and just do it!


19. No business case …?  Dump it.  How many things are there on your to-do list that in all honesty should be discarded let go or just junked?  It’s worth periodically reviewing the business case for the things that are on your to-do list and keeping you feeling overwhelmed.  You probably already know what these items are, you’ve had that gut feeling for a while.  So stop ignoring your gut, review and let go of the things that no longer work for you.


20.  The real reason why you’re not the only person on the planet!  Other people exist so that they can support you, so ask for help!  Believe it or not human beings (unlike superheroes) were designed to work in collaboration so don’t be surprised if you ask for help and people actually say yes!  Delegation is another useful tool.  The best way to delegate is to imagine that you are going away on holiday for a very long time you need to hand out all your work to get done while you are way.  This forces you to ask the question “ am I the only person on the planet who can do this?”  What normally stops people delegating isn’t that they are uniquely talented to do the piece of work; it is that they simply don’t trust somebody else to do it as well as they feel they can.  When life gets tough and you feel overwhelmed it is normally because you are trying to do all yourself.  Learn to delegate and ask for help.  And remember if you get a “no” it’s the request and not you that’s being rejected so don’t let that put you off asking someone else.


Look out for more tips on dealing with overwhelm in part 4.


Are you still wearing a superhero cape? What are your strategies for remaining human?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section so others can benefit too.


If you missed part one and two you can read them here

If you missed part one you can read it here

If you missed part two you can read it here







About Ola Agbaimoni

Known as "The Business Detective" due to her "Sherlock Holmes" like problem solving abilities, Ola works in partnership with her sister Carole Pyke, The Business Bard. Together they run Eélan Media, a new type of Business growth agency offering a forensic approach to business and a creative approach to marketing. As well as being an expert in business planning, training and development, Ola is also a certified coach, NLP practitioner; an accomplished author, speaker and presenter.

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