Overwhelm blocks productivity, creativity, enjoyment… and even income! You can begin to improve this starting today.
In my article, “What Does Feeling Overwhelmed Really Mean?”, I mentioned I’d created a mind map. Since then, I revisited my mind map and removed a few things listed there. They’re terrific ideas, but they don’t really “crank my tractor.” This is something you might keep in mind, too.
I’m something of a list addict—okay, maybe list maniac is more like it. Over the years, I’ve revised how I manage my lists so I don’t overwhelm myself with them and what’s on them—though, I can still get carried away when ideas flow. It may look messy or imprecise to others, but it’s a system that works for me.
Here are 7 tips to help you manage or prevent overwhelm, especially for those of you who are list addicts too or don’t like lists and, perhaps, operate a bit on the disorganized side.
1. Stop looking at your physical or mental to-do list and focusing on what isn’t getting done. Key Lesson: To-do lists are to help you focus, not hold you hostage.
2. When you feel overwhelmed by your list, either your energy and enthusiasm fold up and you do nothing or you run yourself ragged trying to clear items from the list—usually non-essential items instead of priorities. You do this to, hopefully, make that darn list smaller! But, of course, you continue to add items to your list, and you feel like you don’t make any real headway. As soon as you catch yourself doing either of these or about to, stop! And, go to the next tip.
3. Prioritize! This may mean numbering items in order of importance or noting which are actually priorities (essential) and which aren’t (not essential).
4. Dump some of the non-essential to-do items—or all of them—or give them to someone else to do, for pay or not, depending on the situation.
5. Give about an hour a week to your to-do list to categorize items as Priority, Not A Priority But Needs Doing, and Non-Essential. Decide which priority or priorities will have your attention that week and decide on which days you’ll focus on which priorities. Include some time for non-priority items that do need to be completed by you or will create personal fulfillment.
6. Remember to take breaks. Get up and move around or do something else for 5 to 10 minutes every hour. (When you focus on projects or tasks, eliminate as many interruptions as it’s realistic to do.) Be sure to take at least one full day each week (two is better), when you do nothing work-related, including thinking about anything work-related. This can make a huge difference in energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and yes, even in income. If you’re self-employed, stress from overwhelm can push success away from you. If employed, being productive, rather than frazzled and behind in your work, can justify pay raises, in your mind and your employer’s.
7. Adjust your attitude. Find a way to make whatever you do a creative challenge for you, whatever that looks or feels like to you. “Martyrs” don’t have fun and aren’t fun to be around. If what you have to do isn’t pleasant, why are you doing it? Sometimes you have to do the unpleasant tasks, but sometimes you don’t. It also helps attitude to consider if what you do will be a genuine help to someone who relies on you for valid reasons. If you switched places with them, what attitude would you hope the other person demonstrated?
Another contributor to overwhelm is when your actions don’t show immediate results. You might give up or change course instead of look at what’s going on and what might lead to desired results. Impatience makes you chase lots of flashy things that seem to say, “Try me! Try me!” This is a big reason why success gets stalled—this, plus too many people believe they have to get it “right” and strike it big right away rather than improve and build gradually.
Overwhelm leads to lack of faith in yourself, leads to lack of faith that your desired result is possible. You may flip back and forth between, “This will work” and “This will never work,” which is stacking another form of overwhelm atop what’s already there. Overwhelm can lead you to undervalue you and what you offer—and even those you offer it to.
Really look at what your priorities are—what can actually lead to desired results. Really look at what aren’t priorities. Is there anything on your list that is a terrific idea but just doesn’t float your boat about doing it (and the decision to do it is yours alone)? Delete any of these you know you could or should, or recruit someone to handle them for you, if you truly believe they need to happen. But, don’t convince yourself non-essential items, or uninspiring ones, have to be done just because you wrote them down.
Keep in mind that life seldom happens in a straight line. Neither does goal or dream setting and getting. A plan-of-action helps you stay the course and get back on course when detours show up. You don’t have to be “perfectly” organized, but you benefit if you have a system that helps you be better organized, in a way that works for you.
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer
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End procrastination and achieve desired change in a 2-month online course (see website) with Joyce Shafer, Life Coach, author of I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say & other books/e-books, & publisher of State of Appreciation, a free weekly online newsletter promoting a blend of practical & spiritual approaches to life for personal development and self-realization. Receive a free PDF of How to Have What You REALLY Want when you subscribe at http://stateofappreciation.webs.com