The reason I wanted to do this short blog is because so many of the coaches I know – and whom I coach on business-building and productivity – feel totally overwhelmed.
I often hear things like, “I want to get to six figures, but I can't work fast enough to do it all, and I’m trying to bring some balance to my life!”
Or, “It’s hard to do all the stuff I need to be doing – website updates, blogging, social media, etc. I. Am. Slammed!”
Here are the 5 Reasons We Feel Overwhelmed in Running Our Business. The better we understand these, the better we’re able to battle back and feel more in control.
Our brains are set up basically the way they were 200,000 years ago when the information intake on a given day was the equivalent of a few kilobytes.
Today we’re carrying devices in our hands that have more computing power than the Apollo spacecraft that went to the moon and back. And we’re expected to download and synthesize increasing amounts of data with our 200,000-year-old brain.
Martha Beck, Oprah’s life coach, writes, “[We] have created an environment unnaturally jammed with attention-grabbing information. Our brains evolved to pay close attention to unusually bright colors, food, sex, babies, physical danger, and other information salient to survival.
Marketers bombard us with such images, making them even brighter, louder, and gorier, to outcompete all other attention demands.”
Run all those messages through our increasingly intimate relationship with our devices, and the result is rampant attentional blindness, which overwhelms us.
Which is really rapid task-switching, and burns glucose – our brain’s fuel – faster than if we were single-tasking. It leaves us mentally wiped out, and with little or no work actually completed.
This is a serious social affliction: 10 years ago, the average worker shifted attention every 3 minutes. Now – just 10 years later -- we shift attention every 45 seconds. We check our email 74 times a day, and switch tasks on our computer 566 times a day.
The very act of multitasking, in an attempt to get our heads above water – is dragging us under the rapids.
We don’t “look up” enough. We keep our nose to the grindstone with our blinders on. We’re not present, not in the now.
Author of Two Awesome Hours Josh Davis Ph.D. notes, “Our days comprise a series of habitual neural routines, what we often call ‘tasks’: getting up in the morning, getting dressed for work, commuting to work, turning on the computer, answering emails, grabbing lunch, attending a staff meeting, going for a run, making dinner, getting ready for bed. The problem is we often jump from task to task without giving much thought to what makes sense to do next.”
I call this "being on autopilot." When we’re on autopilot, we can’t access the conscious resources to make good decisions about what to work on. And when we’re not making conscious decisions, we're not in control, we waste time and energy, and we add to the overwhelm.
Because of our negativity bias – which results in spending huge amounts of energy focusing on negatives, threats, and “failures” rather than on positives, opportunities, and successes – energy is NOT available for focus, concentration, and getting stuff DONE.
These and other factors all add up to what I call “the constant state of overwhelm."
To quickly recap: We are all overwhelmed. Our 200,000-year-old brain, fabulous as it is, is outgunned by media, multitasking, not being present, and too much worry and rumination.
But again, getting aware of these reasons for our overwhelm is a big step in helping us get out of it.
And in my next post, I’ll share evidence-based hacks for reducing your overwhelm, some of which work in just minutes.
In the meantime, 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 next time, remember, whatever’s in your way is yours to crush!