Have you ever been frozen with overwhelm?
It’s the sensation that you have so much to do, you don’t know what to do first. You feel stressed. Instead of plowing forward, you catch yourself staring at your screen doing nothing.
Overwhelm happens to everyone from time to time. There are 3 ways to deal with it:
- Avoid the problem, procrastinate, and let overwhelm win.
- Adjust your workload to an amount you can manage... Whether that means delegating, moving deadlines, or communicating your capacity with team members.
- Grow your capacity to take on what’s overwhelming you, and get to work.
In this post, we’ll talk about the last option. When you face overwhelm head-on, you can initiate exponential growth.
Think of the tasks ahead of you as a challenge, one that will help you push the status quo and the boundaries of the world around you.
There are 7 steps to tackle overwhelm, all of which will help you perform and overcome.
1. Reality Check
Changing our state always starts with mindset! When we zoom out and consider our overwhelm problem from the perspective of our whole life, it’s easier to realize that the overwhelm will pass. We might not get it all done… and we’ll still be ok.
Ultimately, we’re each one of 8 billion people spinning on a rock flying through space. Crazy to think about, right? Getting perspective on the tasks ahead of you or the problem you’re facing is easy when you think about millions of light-years. Better yet, in a month or a year, you probably will have worked through everything you’re worried about now.
2. Decide You're the One
This is a Jedi mind trick, and it makes a difference when overwhelm threatens to take you out.
As soon as you decide you’re the one to handle the problem or task at hand, it becomes a non-negotiable. You’re going to slay this dragon. You’re the hero, and this is a challenge. When you’re The One, you become much more resourceful, motivated, and determined. You’re less likely to be persuaded by the overwhelm in your mind.
When you decide that this problem is exactly what you need to get to your next level, you have the power to move forward.
3. Edit Your Day (Or Your Life)
When you have too much on your plate, you need to decide what’s absolutely essential to work on, and what can wait. Since you have limited attention, it’s important to edit your day, week, or month to work on the tasks that matter most. Everything else can go on pause or be delegated to an assistant, employee, or contractor… or for personal tasks, a friend or family member.
The editing process may require you to have conversations where you reset expectations to be more accurate to what you can accomplish, or ask others to take on some of the load.
4. Identify the Top Priority Task
With the tasks or opportunities you have left, prioritize which of those is the #1 most important to work on. Order your tasks by those that will relieve the most pressure, or will make the most progress toward your end goal.
5. Plan Your Priority Tasks
Once you have your tasks in order, it’s time to make them concrete by putting them in your schedule. Map out the next 3-7 days with time blocks in your calendar that are dedicated to the tasks you’ve prioritized.
When you see exactly how you’ll work through everything in front of you, you’ll feel less anxious about how to use your time to get it all done.
6. Execute Like a Boss
The next step is a given: follow your own plan! Set yourself up for deep work by arranging your environment, silencing notifications, and giving yourself an uninterrupted work period. Let the pressure motivate you to accomplish tasks that will feel really good to complete.
This step is often the most overlooked, but the most important if you don’t like feeling overwhelmed. On a weekend or after the overwhelming period passes, look at your week or month and analyze why you ended up in an overwhelming situation. If you’re tolerating handling too many tasks or obligations, look at why you say ‘yes’ to more than you’re comfortable handling.
Though it’s good to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zone at times, overworking or working under too much pressure consistently leads to burnout. Ultimately, you won’t reach your goals faster if you burn yourself out or you’re too exhausted to enjoy the results. Decide on new criteria for what to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to when it comes to your responsibilities or tasks so that you can more accurately allocate time and energy and promise outcomes with more integrity.
Another thing to analyze is how you can set yourself up to avoid procrastination or letting deadlines creep up on you. For example, you can use the Countdown feature in the Momentum Plus dashboard to alert you to upcoming dates or events and set out all of your various tasks in to-do lists arranged by priority.
Overwhelm is Temporary
Ultimately, overwhelm is a story we make up in our minds. It’s a sensation of stress that arises when we perceive many responsibilities without any structure or plan to accomplish them. With a little intentionality, you can shift your perspective, get through the busy period, and set a better rhythm for yourself moving forward.
We'd love to hear from you! How do you overcome overwhelm? Shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org - we read every reply :)