Last week I wrote about the reasons so many of us coaches are feeling overwhelmed in running our businesses. Are you among the overwhelmed?
See if you can identify with this scenario...
You turn on your computer to craft an important email, and when you open your emails, there are 45 new emails. You figure, well, let me answer a few of these – just the most urgent ones – and then I’ll get to writing that important email.
And 45 minutes later, you’re still dealing with your inbox and you don’t even remember what email you were supposed to be writing!
You’re not crazy, lazy, or lousy at what you do…
You’re just overwhelmed.
Tim Ferriss says, “Being overwhelmed is as unproductive as doing nothing.” Actually, it’s way worse.
When we’re overwhelmed, we’re jacked up on cortisol, which hobbles us in the present, drains us for the balance of our day, and damages our neurons for the future. It results in a feeling of helplessness and a retreat from the big challenges, and therefore, the big potential payoffs, in our business.
This unwelcome state of mind is increasingly pervasive in our society as our finite human attention is bombarded with exponentially increasing amounts of data (just one of several main reasons for our overwhelm).
Indeed, we’re all experiencing overwhelm to some degree.
The question is whether we can exert some control over it to steal back some peace of mind – to get more traction in our daily doings. And the answer is Yes. Times three...
Here’s something you can do right now that only takes a few minutes to reduce your feeling of overwhelm. This strategy is based on two premises.
#1 The first is that the most productive and successful people on the planet prioritize their work first and foremost by elimination. They decide to NOT do this or that.
#2 The second premise is the Zeigarnik Effect. This is the psychological phenomenon wherein your long to-do list, piles of paper and/or your many reminder stickies, actually increase your sense of overwhelm, steal your energy, and undercut your mental acuity.
The solution is to create a ‘Could-Do List’.
Take a look at your to-do list. In it you’ll find a lot of items that are either no longer as relevant as they once were, are more “wish I could” than “yes, I should”, or are longer-term items you really don’t need to be reminded of every time you glance at your to-do list.
Scratch all of those and move them to your ‘Could-Do List’.
In doing so, you have exercised the primary prioritization habit of super-productive people (elimination), and you’ve reduced the size of your to-do list, and therefore, the Zeigarnick Effect -- and your sense of overwhelm.
If you aren’t doing this right now, mark your calendar to do it soon!
When you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, stop trying to get somewhere! Slowing down can get you out of the “things happen to me,” and into the “things happen for me” mindset.
Better yet, do a pattern interrupt: Get up from your chair and walk outside. Seriously. Or just walk around the house or the room. This is a great example of what I call a ‘Recovery Ritual’.
Any time we feel fatigued or stressed, we need to do some kind of mental recovery. It can be for just two minutes – then back at it!
Another thing we can do is to label our circumstance differently.
Nothing means anything until we give it meaning. Give your circumstance a label of your choosing. E.g., instead of “I’m so overwhelmed,” try “There is much for me to do today, and I choose to attack it as best I can.”
An extreme example might be “I lost my job,” vs. “a space for creation has just opened.”
My friend and author Valerie Shepperd said recently, “These are times when we sit in abundance and see lack.”
Choose to see the abundance before you, my fellow coaches!
BONUS: Here’s a great way to identify some of the specific sources of your overwhelm...
Download My Time Leakages Worksheet
Overwhelmed? Never enough time? Get my Time Leakages Worksheet to quickly identify your time leaks and ways to stop them: www.alanpbrown.com/time-leaks
Take just a few minutes to complete this worksheet, and you’ll immediately see where you can steal back some time to work on your toughest (i.e. most important) business-building work!
Until then, remember, whatever’s in your way is yours to crush!