The pace of life has got faster and faster and we can often feel overwhelmed by the demands on our time, energy and attention.
Overwhelm is not just limited to your working life, although that’s where you tend to feel it the most. You can feel overwhelmed in every aspect of your life, especially when you’re juggling the demands of work, home, and family, not to mention trying to fit in some time for YOU!
How Do You Know When You’re Overwhelmed?
Some people describe it as feeling frazzled. It’s feeling that you have too much to do, not enough time to do it all, and you don’t know where to start.
Your mind is working overtime, with thoughts flying around like a cloud of mosquitoes all buzzing round your head.
It’s overload on the one hand, and scarcity on the other…
Too many tasks and not enough time to do them.
Overall you feel stressed, anxious, frustrated and afraid – afraid that you’ll let someone down, not get everything done, fail in your job, fail as a parent, fail as a partner, fail, fail, fail!
How Overwhelm Affects You
When you get to the stage of being in a state of overwhelm, your effectiveness flies out of the window, which makes the problem even worse.
Your mind is flitting around from one thought to another and that’s reflected in the way you flit between different tasks, doing everything with only half your attention because you’re still thinking about the myriad of other things that you need to do.
Flitting between tasks is the least effective way of working because each time you change tasks you have to refresh your memory about what the task entails, what stage you were at when you last looked at it and what you need to do to complete it.
The more you move from task to task, the more time you spend on reviewing rather than doing.
You get more overwhelmed, not less!
Overwhelm causes you to work at your lowest level of effectiveness and this not only affects your ability to get things done, it also makes a big dent in your self-esteem, and you end up in a downward spiral of self-criticism and failure.
So it’s absolutely essential that you know how to deal with overwhelm when it arises, and ultimately how to prevent it.
How to Overcome Overwhelm
Here are 5 steps to restoring calmness, serenity and control to your life so you become happier, more effective in getting things done and achieve your goals.
Block out any thoughts that are not related to the task you’re working on. You can only do one thing at a time and when you give undivided attention to that single task you’ll not only complete it with excellence but you’ll feel a great sense of achievement and satisfaction.
How to Prevent Overwhelm
- Get organized. Overwhelm happens when you keep information in your head instead of writing it down. Create clear plans with specific tasks in a logical sequence and in order of priority so you know exactly what to do next.
- Manage your time effectively. Make sure that your plans and task lists are actually moving you in the right direction – towards your goals. There’s no point in successfully completing lots of tasks that aren’t contributing to what you want to achieve.
- Manage your time efficiently. Keep a diary so you don’t forget appointments, double book appointments or try to fit in more than you can reasonably manage. A common mistake is to overestimate what you can do in a day – something I’ve been guilty of myself – and then you get frustrated when you don’t get everything done. When you see overdue tasks piling up that’s when you’ll start to become overwhelmed. If you do have overdue tasks, review whether they’re still important and if they are, just reschedule them to an achievable date.
- Develop a system that supports you in being effective and efficient by keeping you focused on what’s important and reminding you when things need doing. The less you overload your brain trying to remember things, the more your brain can focus on doing the actual tasks effectively.
- Don’t take on too much! We often take on more than we’re capable of handling because we like to help people and don’t like saying no. Only take on what you know you can deliver. It’s better to say no to someone than to disappoint them by failing to do what you agreed to. Don’t agree to something because you feel you should, only take on things you are confident you can do and that you really want to do.
Leave a comment to let us know what works for you and if you have any other suggestions for dealing with and preventing overwhelm.