We all feel overwhelmed at times. Too many things to do and not enough time to do them in.
The real problem with overwhelm is that when it strikes, it tends to bring you to a complete stop. You just don’t know what action to take next, and so you take no action at all and therefore nothing is achieved.
But there are some simple steps you can take to conquer overwhelm and it’s easier than you may think.
Step 1. De-clutter your environment.
If you are constantly surrounded by clutter you can quickly end up with brain fog. All that ‘stuff’ surrounding you can leave you feeling completely overwhelmed. Take some time to de-clutter your work area.
Sort through all the bits surrounding you but try to handle things only once if possible. Whether it’s a piece of paper or an email, read it and either take action, delegate it to someone else to deal with, or hit the delete button (or toss it in the rubbish) and get it out of your mind once and for all.
See, you’re feeling better already!
Step 2. Get a pen and paper and make a list of what needs to be done.
Don’t worry about what’s more or less important at this stage, just get it out of your head and onto paper. I guarantee you that this one action alone will take the pressure off and allow you to start thinking more clearly.
Once it’s on paper, you can’t forget about it and that’s liberating in itself.
Step 3. Break your big list up into 3 individual lists.
Grab some blank paper and draw up 3 columns. Head them:
Urgent – Jobs that absolutely have to be done immediately or all hell will break loose.
Important – Jobs that need to be done pretty soon but can wait another day or two.
Not So Important – These are the jobs you’d like to get done at some time, but nothing major will happen if it’s not done in the next couple of weeks.
Once this is done, you have created a prioritised list and now you’re absolutely clear about what needs to be done first. Don’t give into the temptation to do those easy-peasy jobs that are in your Important and Not So Important lists – they can wait.
Stick with the items in your Urgent List and don’t get side-tracked.
Step 4. Evaluate your Urgent List for jobs that can be delegated.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re the only person in the world capable of doing what’s on your list but that’s just your ego getting in the way of working more efficiently.
It’s generally much quicker to spend 10 minutes explaining what’s required than an hour doing the job yourself.
Put aside the ego and ask for help. You are not the only person who can achieve great results!
Step 5. Take action on your Urgent Jobs.
Before you get stuck in, set yourself a realistic time frame to get each of the jobs done. Write your expected finish date down beside each job so you can keep yourself accountable for getting things finished.
If necessary you can break each Urgent Job into smaller chunks and give yourself a to-do-by date for each of those segments.
Breaking big jobs down into smaller chunks takes away the fear of tackling a huge job!
Step 6. Re-evaluate your list each day. This is essential to stay on top of things.
Keep in mind that your lists are fluid. There are your lists so you can move things around from list to list as things change. You’re almost definitely going to find that some items will need to be moved into a different list at some point. Important items might have become Urgent or Not So Important items may not need doing any more.
Just get into the regular habit of spending a few minutes at the start of each day re-prioritising your items so you’re always working on the Urgent items first.
If you manage to complete all your Urgent items, move onto your Important items and start to delegate or take action on these.
And that’s it. I will guarantee that if you use this technique to de-clutter your mind and priortise your to-do list you’ll feel that overwhelm slide right away.
Oh, and don’t forget to put a lovely black line through each item as it’s completed. That’s almost the best part!