13 March 2013

32 ways to decrease overwhelm. Just Kidding! The one big secret to getting on top of overload.

Overwhelm is the curse of modern life. Pummeled by increased workloads, fewer resources, tougher markets and information overload, maintaining balance is a constant battle.

What's the secret to staying in control?

When we're overwhelmed, there's usually so much swirling around us we don't know where to start.  And that leads to  feelings of being stuck, paralyzed and progressively despondent.

We lose clarity, make poor decisions and the quality of our problem solving suffers.   A familiar story?  Enough of the problem, you're no doubt already living these symptoms.

So here's the solution.  Decide what's important and stick to it!  

Sit under a quiet tree or park bench, outside your normal environment and think about what's truly important to you.  If you are massively overwhelmed, don't try and resolve your entire life's purpose; bring it down a notch to work out what's important for today or for this week.  If you only do one thing today, what do you want to be able to say you've done (no matter how small)?

Write it down or voice record it - use the notepad on your phone if you have nothing else, or email yourself a reminder.

Then go back to work, clear aside everything else and work on this one thing.  Once done, grab a cuppa, and breathe!  You're on your way.

Then, reflect on the 3 things that are your next priorities.  List them and set to work.  Before long, you'll have regained momentum and be on your way.  And even if you don't, you'll have achieved 4 important things for the day.  Do this every day, and you'll have achieved close to a thousand important things in the year; things that over time should make a massive difference to your results.

Gary Ryan Blair, otherwise known as The Goals Guy, suggests we need FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Successful.  Whilst an important long term strategy for success, this is also important for the day-to-day moments of overwhelm.  Stop trying to do it all.  Simply pick the one thing that will make a difference right now, and do it.  Stick with it until done.  And celebrate when you're done!  Conquering the overwhelm demon, even if only in the short term, is an important step in regaining a sense of achievement that can catapult you to the next level of accomplishment.  Before you know it, you'll have broken the back of your overwhelm.

To banish overwhelm in the longer term, it may take a few more steps. But the basic principle remains,  Decide what's truly important.  And FOCUS on doing only things connected with this.  Filter everything you have going on in your life through this key priority.  Ask yourself with each activity "Does this fit with what's important to me?"  If it doesn't, stop doing it!  Free up space by cutting out the things that are not connected with your primary mission for the year or month.

Have a go.  Decide what's important for the next hour, or for today, and get on with it!  Put aside everything else for now.  You can come back to longer term strategies of clearing your clutter, reducing your commitments and reflecting on your core priorities, but for now, just do one thing!