4 Sources of Overwhelm (and What to Do About Them)

overwhelm productivity Jun 27, 2021
4 Sources of Overwhelm (and What to Do About Them)

Overwhelm is killing your productivity. 

I will share four familiar sources of overwhelm in this post and tell you what to do about them.

I was going to give you a definition of overwhelm, but then I realized you know what overwhelm is. 

So, on with the list...

Number one: endless to-do lists

In Israel, there's something called the Dead Sea. It's called the Dead Sea because the water flows in, but water doesn't flow out. As a result, it becomes stagnant, and nothing can live there. 

Sadly, this describes many people's to-do lists. They are constantly adding items to their lists and rarely crossing anything off. 

What happens when you only add to your list and never cross anything off it? 


Number two: failing to plan. 

Failing to plan plagues many people. Many people keep everything in their heads. The problem with doing this is that you start rationalizing that everything is okay, and you start telling yourself stories and think you don't need to plan. 

If you're not currently a planner, I encourage you to start with planning on paper, not on a device. It doesn't matter what you use, and it could be just a sheet of paper. You don't need to use a planner, but you can if you have one. Don't search for a planner to buy (that's called procrastination).

Why do I suggest you start writing your plan on paper? Something magical happens when you grab a pen and sketch out what you're going to do tomorrow or next week. 

As I always say, tell your time where to go, instead of wondering where it went. If you don't plan, you will get overwhelmed.

Maybe you over plan everything down to the minute. Sounds good, right? Perhaps you read some post by a productivity expert that suggests planning this way. Now you're stressed because your schedule is caddywompus.

Number three: over planning.

When you over plan, you leave no room for things to happen. If you've ever driven over a large bridge, you'll notice they have these things that look like zippers. These are there so that the bridge can stretch and contract when it gets cold or hot. If bridges didn't have these there, there's a good chance the bridge would collapse. 

Making sure your schedule can breathe is essential because life will happen. 

Who thought back in 2018 that we'd have a pandemic from 2020 and into 2022? 

Life also happened in February 2021 in the state of Texas, where I live, when we had an unprecedented winter storm. If you're not familiar with Texas, it's usually hot here. On Monday morning during the storm, there were three inches of snow in my backyard, and the high temperature that day was 14 degrees Fahrenheit! That's not Texas weather. 

Things happen. People get sick and fired from their job (as I did back in 2005).

Number four: committing to too many things

Do you say yes more than you say no? Did you know that the most successful people say no way more than they say yes? What about you? Do you say, "yes, I'll help with that project?" "Yes, I'll watch your kids." "Yes, I'll walk your dog." When you do, you have little to no time left for yourself. And then you start feeling overwhelmed.

How to reduce overwhelm. 

Tell your time where to go instead of wondering where it went.

Learn the power of no. I don't care how worthy the cause is; if you don't have the bandwidth say, "I'd love to help. Unfortunately, I'm out of bandwidth." 

Here's a little sneaky thing you can try. Let's say you have a tough time saying no. When someone asks you to help (like joining the PTA at school), and you feel a YES coming out of your mouth, say this: "I don't know right now, and can you check back in with me in about two or three days?" Most times, they'll find some other person. But you have to say no upfront.

And finally, practice the art of mindfulness. This doesn't sit in a lotus position and chanting, and it could mean you go on a walk or run, take a shower, or sit outside. When was the last time you were quiet?

10 Quick Ways to Conquer Overwhelm

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