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)

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Overwhelm is killing your productivity. In this episode, I share 4 common sources and give you what to do about them.

Overwhelm is a big deal, but I am here to help you conquer the overwhelm. So, welcome!

Now, I was going to give you a definition of overwhelm. But several years ago, I read a story, or maybe I saw it on the news, I can't remember right now. The person was talking about pornography, and he said, I can't explain it to you, but I know it when I see it. You know what overwhelm is. You've felt overwhelmed. Everyone has felt overwhelm in this world, in their life. So let me go right to the sources, just some of the sources; this is not an exhaustive list. 

Okay, number one, endless to-do lists. Can I get an amen? In Israel, there's something called the Dead Sea. And it's called the Dead Sea because water flows in, but water doesn't flow out. And so it became stagnant, salty, and died. Sadly, this describes a lot of people's to-do lists; they add, and they add, and they add, and they add, and they add and add. And every once in a while, on a perfect day, something comes off the list. But unfortunately, way more things get added to the list than get taken off the list. And so what happens? Well, you know what happens! Overwhelm! Because you look at the list, you're like, oh, my goodness, what am I doing right now? But I'm going to give you some suggestions.

Number two, failing to plan, I have trouble saying the word failing. Maybe because I'm not particularly eager to fail. I don't know, failing. Failing to plan plagues many people, a lot of my clients, a lot of people I engage with on social media. They keep everything up in their noggin between the ears. And the problem with that is that the brain starts rationalizing, starts telling you stories, and says you don't need to plan. It would help if you planned on purpose. And if you are not currently a planner, start with paper, not your iPhone, not your Mac. Start with paper. I want you to grab a pen. Once you grab a sheet of paper, I want you to write your plan down. Why do I tell you to do it on paper? Something magical happens when you grab a pen, and you get a piece of paper, and you sketch out what you're going to do tomorrow, next week, whatever the case may be. As I always say, tell your time where to go, instead of wondering where it went. If you don't do that because you fail to plan, you get overwhelmed.

Maybe you're at the other extreme, and you over plan everything down to the minute. Sounds good, right? And then your internet goes out. Or that call goes too long, or the Zoom call goes too long; we've all been there. And now you're stressed because your schedule is caddywompus; I want you to plan.

Number three is, don't over plan; over planning leaves no room for things to happen. If you've ever driven over a ginormous bridge, you'll notice they have these things called zippers, so when it gets cold, and when it's hot, the bridge can breathe; it can stretch and contract. If they didn't have it there, it would crumble. It would help if you built that into your schedule.

Making sure your schedule can breathe is really important because guess what? I know this is going to be shocking to you. Life is going to happen. Maybe you need to say that out loud right now. I'm serious. That's not fake news. That's the truth; life is gonna happen. Who thought in 2018 that we'd have a pandemic in 2020/2021? Nobody, right? Nobody thought that was gonna happen. But it happened. Life happened three months ago; the state of Texas where I live had an unprecedented winter storm. Now, if you're not familiar with the United States of Texas, it's mostly hot here. And 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. People get fired from their job as I did back in 2005. So don't over plan; it's going to cause overwhelm.

And number four is committing to too many things. Do you say yes, more than you say no? I'll let you in on a little secret. I study the most successful people in the world. They say no, way more than they say yes. Are you the opposite? Do you say yes, I'll help with that project? Yes, I'll watch your kids. Yes, I'll walk your dog. And now you have no time left for yourself. And then you start feeling overwhelmed.

How can you solve this? Well, number one is to plan, tell your time where to go instead of wondering where it went. So you have to prioritize; the P-words are: prioritize and plan.

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. Now, here's a little sneaky thing you can do that I encourage. Let's say you have a tough time saying no outright. Then someone asks you to join the PTA at school, whatever the case might be. And right away, you feel that yes coming out. Here's what I do. I say, look, I don't know right now. Can you check back in with me in about two or three days? Most times, they'll find some other sucker, I mean, some other person to do the job. But you have to say no upfront.

And finally, practice the art of mindfulness. Now, what does that mean? It doesn't mean you have to sit in a lotus position and chant. It could be, or maybe you go on a walk or run without anything in your ears. Or maybe you take a shower with no music playing; you're just in the shower. Or maybe go out and sit outside. I like to go out, sit in the backyard and get my vitamin D from the sun with my dog sitting next to me and not doing anything. When is the last time you were quiet? 


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