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Overcoming Overwhelm

There are many a time in life that one can feel overwhelmed.

When one is standing in a shop and can’t make a choice on what chocolate bar to buy, when ones is looking in the wardrobe and don’t know what outfit to pick or when you are at a Chinese buffet and don’t know what to put on your plate first, however, the truth is these types of overwhelm dilemmas are not going to make much of an inconvenience to your life and certainly not for very long.

That being said there are other occasions when overwhelm really does have a debilitating effect and can lead to all sorts of negative emotions.

Your performance has a direct link to your ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure and of course managing the things you do. In fact, there is a research study that has been conducted on over a million people and it’s identified that 90% of top performers are the ones which are skilled in managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

With that in mind, I wanted to share with you several things you can do to change your feelings of overwhelm when it hits.


You can’t get away from feeling overwhelmed from a place of overwhelming confusion. You have to step away to be able to view your circumstances from a fresh perspective.

That can be as simple as moving to a different room, get up from your desk, sit in a different chair, go out for a walk or go sit in a café. Stepping out from the current situation and changing your physicality is just the very start of enabling you to gain clarity, and shift you away from the overwhelmed state of mind.

Write everything down

Our minds are complex things, we are blessed with the ability to think but sometimes it can be an issue too. Our short-term memory only enables us to remember between 5-9 things at any one point and the mind can only subconsciously think of 134 things at one time therefore if we store everything in our head we can get overwhelmed very quickly indeed because we are using up our memory. It’s a little like having every application running on your computer, it’s going to run much slower and have a much higher likelihood of crashing. Start by writing or typing down (otherwise known as brain dumping) every task you can think of, the things to do regularly, the ad hocs and the to-dos.

Another important thing here is write everything down in one place, on one list. You can have subheadings but not multiple lists otherwise you will find yourself having an issue of what list to prioritise.

Know your priority outcomes

Gaining clarity on your outcomes is great but it’s only the start. Identify what outcomes are your top priority for the year, quarter, month, week, day, morning or even hour if you must. Park everything else and just focus on your Seven Things I Must Do Today (STIMDT). I like to refer to this as your Must Do List.

By just having a maximum of 7 things at any point on your Must Do list you condition yourself to prioritise. Need to do more than 7 things in one day? Fine do more, but you will only put the first 7 on your list. After you have achieved those 7 then you can pick another 7 etc.

I recommend doing this by having your STIMDT as a sub heading on your list and that’s they are the only thing you look at until completed.

D3 it

Those of you that already know I play ice hockey, might think I am referring to the 3rd movie in the Mighty Ducks trilogy – you’ll be pleased to know I am not! You have everything on one list and more importantly your priority outcomes identified which means you can now D3 it, divide the list into 3. Things that you are either going to Do, Delegate or Delete.

The 5 magic words

Can You Help Me Please? These are the simple words that you need to use that will enable the delegate list to be achieved. You will be amazed at the people that are willing to help. Often, we are the problem that is disallowing help from happening through our limited thinking. We think they will say no, and so we don’t ask. Just trust me here and try!

Limit Distractions

Every time we get distracted it takes us 17 minutes for our brains to fully re-engage in what we were doing before. I don’t need to tell you how many distractions there are around us these days. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram (even within each of those there are comments, likes, direct messages, stories etc) , email, phone calls, text messages and these are just the ones that we carry around in our pocket! Let alone partners, colleagues, children the list is endless. You can manage some of your distractions though. One of the best things I have done is turned off all notifications on my phone. It means I have to be proactive to checking these things, but I have the ability to do that on my terms. Also selecting the environment you choose to work in will have an impact on how distracted you are.

Human Being, not Human Doing

Once you have prioritised and started taking the action you need to be doing daily to deal with the overwhelm then you can start priming yourself for how you choose to ‘be’ each day when you are ‘doing’. My choices are content, happy, joyful, present, humble, clear-headed, fun and playful by setting your stall out on how you choose to ‘be’ each day and focusing on that will have a significant impact on how you feel when you are doing your ‘do’s’.

This is an important part of the process and it’s worth noting happy people perform 12% better.

If you were performing 12% better in your business what impact would that have?

So there you have it, there’s a few things you can do, it’s down to you to …. make it happen.

Until next time… make it happen.


p.s. If would like to find out how a Make It Happen coach could assist you in overcoming procrastination one on one then click here.

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