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Overwhelmed!  You’ve probably been there before.  It’s so easy to go there when your week slides out of control.  You have a project that goes off the rails.  Your spouse needs you to do 30 things.  Spring is here and you need to get the lawn mowed.  The kids have to get to school and dance practice.  Oh yeah, and you have those pesky bills to pay this week.  It can be easy to fall off track.  Then, you come to blogs like this and there are people spouting about staying focused and committed and reaching your goals.  Right now, though, you’re overwhelmed so those goals seem like these HUGE mountains that are not only high but also far in the distance.

They may be high and far but there are definitely some things you can do to get out of the Town of Overwhelm.

1. Admit where you are.
It’s ok. It really is. You’re among friends here. You don’t have to hide it. You are overwhelmed. Admit it before you bust. Getting to the point where the volcano erupts is never cool. You’ve got to take this first step so that you can do something about it.

2. Take long, slow, deep breaths.
Simple, right? Do it! Breathing slowly for 5-10 seconds will slow everything down. In fact as you do it purposely, you will even begin to notice that your body may have been racing. You will begin to notice the air around you. The sounds around you will become more clear. Things will slowly begin to shift into their proper space instead of being the normal jumble that they seem to be.

3. Create chunks or micro-goals.
Part of feeling overwhelmed can come from trying to do everything at once. Aiming to conquer a mile in one jump can be taxing for anyone. Instead, aim to jump 10 feet. Then 10 more feet. Then 10 more feet. Then 10 more feet. Breaking your goal up into smaller goals can make it seem much more manageable and lowers your stress level.

4. Focus on ONE thing.
Oh my goodness. Aren’t we all guilty of multi-tasking? In fact, multi-tasking these days is often seen as a sign of dexterity and give you high marks on the “corporate cool” scale. But more and more, if you just use google, you will find that increasingly, studies show that people who multi-task are actually LESS productive. Think of it this way. If you were to attempt to write 3 paragraphs simultaneously, you would look a WHOLE lot busier than if you were writing one. But, in jump from paragraph to paragraph, not only are you picking up your pen from the paper, you are are also shifting what your mind does in each case. That’s a LOTTA stuff to do. Pick one things to do. Then when you are finished that, take a breath, decompress from that activity before moving on to the next.

5. Get a friend.
Accountability is actually a pretty cool thing and having a friend or buddy along for the ride is helpful. Aside from the assistance they may provide, a partner may help you to focus a bit differently on the task at hand. Working out happens much more easily with a partner. If you have children, get them in the habit of helping with chores. If you have co-workers, work on your bartering skills or your delegation skills. The bottom line here is that help is not a cuss word and we all need it pretty regularly.

6. Set time limits.
I find that I work best when I break my tasks up into timed work periods. When I am on the computer, I use something called Menubar Countdown to keep me locked into how much time I have allotted myself for this activity. I like it because at the end, when the timer goes off, I program it to say something silly. Something like, “Hey yo, you’re DONE bro!”. I’ve also used, “Did you hear the one about the chicken and the cow that went to the bar?” Of course, I didn’t give myself a punchline but you get the point.

7. Reward yourself.
Every time I hear the word reward, I picture a puppy holding up its paws to its owner, waiting for a treat. Now, I’m not calling you a puppy, nor am I calling myself one, for that matter. But, the truth is, we LOVE rewards. We really perk up a little bit when we get a reward, no matter how small that reward is. That reward may be a tangible reward or it might be something as simple as rest. Whatever it is, make it something that works for you. Make it something that makes you anticipate completion. Make it GOOD. You’re making the rules here.

8.  Do something silly
The other techniques are SOLID and proven. But, the one that I like to implement the most is this one. Do something silly when no one is looking or even when someone is looking. Like this:

What do you do when you are overwhelmed? Leave your comments below.

If you are interested in learning a bit more about your goals and how to get there, I’m excited about the eBook, 28 Days To A New Me, which will be released very shortly. SIGN UP HERE to be among the first to receive the information.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • These are all awesome suggestions, Robert! You asked the question, what do you do when you are overwhelmed? I PRAY, first of all, and ask for wisdom and peace. Then I sit down and make a plant, numbering each to-do from most important to least, and then I proceed down the list. I start to feel better almost immediately, as I check off my list.

    • Thanks Amy. You know, I’m almost ashamed to note my deletion of prayer as an option here. That was a great reminder! I guess I may even have taken that for granted. Great comment.

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