Simple Ways to Deal with Overwhelm

overwhelm Sep 13, 2021
Simple Ways to Deal with Overwhelm

Overwhelm is the number one thing people come to me for help.

I have never had a client come to me and say, "Mark, I want to be more productive. How can I be more productive?"

That's never happened.

They say, "Oh, my goodness! My to-do list keeps growing and growing and growing and growing, and it's scary to look at."

Some people have told me, "You know what? I don't even look at my to-do list anymore. What's the point? Because it's so unmanageable because there are so many things on the list."

Here's how to deal with overwhelm

First of all, if you're writing down your to-do list, if getting them out of your head, good for you. This is a good first step. But a to-do list is not meant for you to put things on there for them to die.

A to-do list is meant to take the thoughts out of your head and put them somewhere so when you need to retrieve them; you know where they are. But too many things on your to-do list can cause overwhelm. And overwhelm is not going to cause you to be productive. If anything, being overwhelmed will help you become irritable, angry, short-tempered, to talk about the tip of the iceberg.

When you're overwhelmed

  • How healthy do you feel physically and mentally?
  • Do you feel happy?
  • Does it feel like there's a knot in your stomach?
  • Are your muscles tense?
  • Do you feel body aches?
  • Are you irritable, angry, frustrated, impatient?
  • Do you walk around like you're in a fog?
  • How's your attitude at work and home? 

Think about this: if you're overwhelmed, and your performance at your job suffers, you could get written up. This adds to the stress you're already experiencing because you have too many things on your to-do lists. This could cause you to become aggressive to the ones you love, whether their family members or friends or co-workers you're friends with, whatever the case may be.

Obviously, overwhelm is not good. Not only for your productivity but your overall life.

Overwhelm is a slippery slope.

What you can do about all of this

The next time you're overwhelmed, I want you to stop for a moment and think about what is making you feel overwhelmed. You must identify it. You can't just say, "I'm feeling stressed, I'm feeling tense, I'm feeling overwhelmed." You've got to call it out. It would be best if you recognized it; maybe you have to say it verbally.

But then take it one step further: record it. I recommend you use a bullet journal and record the date, the time, and what happened. You should begin to see patterns. You'll be able to notice that when this happens, you start getting overwhelmed.

A lot of people are overwhelmed because they have too many things to do. You've got to stop doing all of these things. And I know what you're saying, "Mark, I've got to do all these things. You don't understand. I have got to do all of these things." I hear you.

But I want to push back against that just a little bit here. Do YOU have to do all these things? Because whether you want to admit it or not, you have 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes an hour, 10,800 minutes in a week. You probably can't do everything you want to do. So what do you do now?

Well, you need to relieve the pressure. For Christmas, a couple of years ago, I bought my wife an InstantPot (she says it's the best gift I've ever given her!). If you are familiar with an InstantPot, it allows things to cook really fast under high pressure. But when it's done cooking, it has to relieve the pressure. You can't go take the top off and eat. You have to relieve the pressure.

It would help if you relieved the pressure of your overwhelm because it's building and building and building and building. And what happens is when you turn irritable, when you do violent outbursts, when you get angry, when you get aggressive, that's your body trying to release the pressure.

So name this feeling. Identify it. Then I want you to figure out a plan not to have to deal with this overwhelm as much as you have been.

I can certainly help you

The Digital Productivity Coaching Membership Program meets once a month. It's a training call followed by a live Q&A session. Plus, you get access to the current months' call and the previous two months in the membership area.

Then, there's the Basics of Productivity course, which has just under two hours of video training which includes the transcripts and the mp3s so you can listen to them on the go.

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