The Complete Guide on how to deal with overwhelm… Part 4

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


"Stress Meter" by Stuart Miles

“Stress Meter” by Stuart Miles

Over the last three weeks I’ve looked at what causes people to feel overwhelmed and suggested some steps you can take to shake off the patterns and limiting beliefs that maybe keeping you stuck in a paradigm that says it is possible to do everything on your growing to – do encyclopaedia (it’s far too long to be called just a list), all the time! If you’re starting to wake up to the fact that it actually it isn’t possible because (believe it or not) you are only human well done! If not keep reading because I have some more tips that will help you shake off those superhero tendencies. Here are 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. All these tips look at how you can become more productive and therefore, reduce the likelihood of things building up leading to you feeling overwhelmed.

Remember the worst thing would be to turn these tips 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.

21. Make the reason you do something the results you get. How many of us spend time doing things for the sake of doing things without being clear that they are giving us the results we want. Take a long hard look at the things you are currently doing and ask yourself if are giving you the results you want? Be completely honest. Even if you love doing what you’re doing if it’s not giving you the results you want stop wasting your time. It’s easy to get stuck doing things that other people tell us are useful or we are comfortable doing and lose sight of the fact that they are not giving us the results we want. Take charge of your time by determining what you do based on the results you want.

22. Regiment what you do each day. Flexibility is great but having a set routine whereby you do repetitive tasks at a set time each day can really save you time. Set a specific time to focus on dealing with the more mundane things that take up time but need doing. For instance, I only deal with e-mails between the hours of 12 -2pm each day, otherwise I don’t look at my inbox because it can really sap time. I allocate half an hour twice a day to check my social media and 2 hours a day 3 times a week to promote the articles I write. Before I finish work for the day I ran through things that need to be done tomorrow and plan for the day ahead. Set yourself a daily routine which allows you to get the important things done in an orderly fashion so that they don’t become urgent.

23. Think in terms of big chunks. Think of everything you have to do you and put them into 2 or 3 big categories. For example Administration, finance, marketing and promotion, client engagement, fun and recreation (it’s important not to forget the fun) etc. Once you’ve identified your big chunks the next step is to block out a scheduled time each week to focus on this chunk. This is a quick way of planning your week particularly if you are one of the people who are not excited by the minutiae of detailed project plan. If you block out scheduled time each week for your work, you will know that you have a plan for how to tackle the work. For example, I devote Wednesdays to my regular weekly radio show, so I do all the preparation planning and booking of the guests in the morning and deliver the show in the afternoon. On Mondays I send out the weekly newsletter and other communications to my community and Tuesday mornings are devoted to clients. What would your week look like if you chunked it this way? If you have so much to do that you’re struggling to know what to do next, this is a good and simple way of planning your time.

24. Once is often enough. Whenever something new lands on your desk or comes into your focus see if you can deal with it and complete it the first time you look at it . Aim to make once enough rather than assigning it to the pending or for action pile. Clearly you won’t be able to treat everything in this manner however if you’re over riding aim is to do it once then you will reduce the number of things use automatically put off till later.

25. There really is only one way to eat an elephant. It’s an old cliché but there really is only one way to eat an elephant a.k.a. deal with huge projects and that is one bite at a time. So divide your bigger project into mini tasks, i.e. the steps that you need to take in order to get the whole job done. Start by listing all the tasks and then how long you think it will take you to do each one. Next identify those tasks that you think will take longer than an hour and then subdivide them into smaller chunks of time. Every time you take a bite of your elephant and finish it you will feel motivated to go back for more.

26. Back in 60 seconds. Another thing that causes overwhelm is lost time. You know how you when you assign a specific amount of time to do something and then you spend ages trying to find the things you need to get the task done. Before you know it a whole hour has gone and you’ve actually not done anything but look for what you needed. Well reclaim some of that time by making sure you can find anything you need within 60 seconds. Set up a system for your filing that works with how you think, so that you can intuitively find things when you need them. Then get used to putting things away – make it almost sacrosanct; if you have to, fall in love with your filing cabinet.

27. Get 3 done then add 1. Instead of scheduling 1001 things to get done in a day and feeling really overwhelmed when you don’t complete them all, aim to complete just 3 tasks each day. 3 may seem like a small number, however, if you get all 3 done and there is time, just add one i.e. add another thing to the list and do that too. You can keep adding one so long as you are able to complete it by the end of the day. Alternatively if you complete all 3, why not give yourself a break and use that time to pamper yourself -you’ve earned it.

28. Embrace the futility. It’s a fact you will never clear your to-do list. There will always be something else on it so long as you keep putting things on it (which you will do – it’s in our nature to strive for the next target!) and other people are able to give you things to do. Therefore don’t stress about it! Work with these tips and do what you can in the time available that is realistic and doesn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed.

29. Don’t be a flutter by. Butterflies used to be called flutterbies because of the way they fluttered from place to place, randomly settling on this thing then that. When you’re overwhelmed the tendency is to flutter around from one task to another never quite finished anything. Remember there is a difference between true multitasking (as mentioned earlier) and this sort of behaviour. If you find yourself fluttering stop and focus on a single task till it is done before moving onto the next thing.

30. Laser vision. Blinkers were invented for horses in order to stop them being distracted by things in their environment. Blinkers work by preventing the horse from seeing anything but the way ahead. You can employ a similar tactic when you need to focus on a specific thing by clearing out of sight the things that might draw your attention away from the task. So clear your desk, move away from the window or draw the blinds. The fewer things in your environment that are likely to draw your eye away from what you need to focus on the more you will be able to concentrate on the task in hand.

Look out for more tips on dealing with overwhelm in the final part next week, part 5.

Are you still wearing a superhero cape? Have you tried any of the tips so far and if so how have they worked for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section so others can benefit too.

If you missed any of the previous parts you can read them here

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

If you missed part three 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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