Overwhelm is a nasty little demon hiding in the dark corner, one I know all too well. We live in an increasingly plugged-in world full of more choices in any given moment than ever before. All those choices get filtered through your mind into piles of “can do,” “should do,” “want to do,” or “never mind.” If the first three piles get too big, our little demon runs out to play in them like a kid stomping in fall leaves. He’s having a dandy old time. The leaves (or you, in this case) start to get a little (or a lot) crushed.
Here are a few ways to send overwhelm back to his dark little corner and make him stay:
Amazing how such a simple thing can be so forgotten at times, isn’t it? I actually have a program on my computer that greys out my screen every 90 minutes to remind me to take a 10-minute break while I’m working. And every 20 minutes, my screen goes blue for 15 seconds. Wanna know what I do then? Sometimes I get up and boogie or stretch for a few seconds, just to move my body around. But most of the time, I close my eyes or look at the trees in my yard and take 3-4 slow, deep breaths. It creates space and a little bit of calm. It helps my little demon friend stay in his corner.
(2) Know You’re One Person
You are awesome. Awesome sauce with a cherry and chocolate sprinkles. And you’re one person. So please don’t try to be ten.
(3) Learn to Say No
These are powerful phrases: “I can do that”; “I should do that.” They come with a sense of obligation. But here are the questions that trump those phrases:
- Do you want to do it?
- If you don’t do it, will you regret it?
If the answer to both of those is no, then the answer to the task at hand is no. Period.
(4) Learn When to Say Yes
I like to call the place you live where you feel vibrant and excited about the work you’re doing and the life you’re living your genius zone. So what makes you feel vibrant and excited? What puts you in that place that just has you radiating from within? If something comes along with those qualities, say a hearty and loving yes.
(5) Respect Boundaries
Allow your calendar to be king (or queen). Respect your boundaries, and don’t work outside the hours you’ve set aside for it. (Admission: This one is super hard for me!)
(6) No Multi-tasking!
I’ve written about this one before at more length. When you’re working, focus on the work at hand and don’t multitask.
A HUGE funnel to the “should” pile is the thought that we need to do everything ourselves. The idea that we get a gold star if we’re 100% self-sufficient is utter hogwash. You know that saying “it takes a village”? It really does! In everything.
Figure out the value of your time. Put a price tag on it. Now make a list of all the daily tasks you’re doing in your life or your business that are an inefficient use of your time, or are just things that don’t put you in your genius zone.
Whether you hire a manager / employee / assistant, or engage an intern, or give a job to the teenager down the street, the outcome is the same: more time for you. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
Your new help will not be a mirror image of you, and you can’t expect that. Don’t replace not delegating with micro-managing, though. That is just as inefficient a use of your time. Allow for a learning curve. Allow for the imperfections that are a given in every last thing in life. And enjoy a little bit of extra freedom and time for YOU!
(8) Understand Balance
In the United States, we put such a vast premium on work. Whomever works the most hours in a week gets a gold star. I shall repeat: hogwash. Giving into this idea, allowing my workaholic side to take control, it sent me into a spiral of health issues caused entirely by stress. You wanna know how you can be of most use to the community and world around you? To your family and your business? Take care of yourself.
Understand the importance of balance in the parts of you that need nourishment: your physical self, your mental self, your emotional self, your work, your play.
- Move your body.
- Eat good food.
- Read. Feed your mind.
- Find some practice of stillness or conversation or something that feeds your soul.
- Play often.
You will be a richer well of all the awesome sauce that is you if you do all these things, and the world around you will be all the better for it.
(9) Breathe (again)
What is one way you keep overwhelm at bay? Tell me all about it in the comments below!