Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of business and life but can be dangerous if left unchecked.
We’ve all experienced overwhelm at some point in our life.
Out feelings of overwhelm may be caused by simply having too much to do, having tight deadlines to meet, having too high expectations, too much responsibilities or too little time.
When work and life gets too much we can find ourselves feeling overwhelmed.
Complications and complexity cause us to feel overwhelmed because we’re often not sure what to do or what action to take first.
The context for this article is that, as a business coach, I see so many entrepreneurs, leaders and business owners struggle with overwhelm that I wanted to share the tips I give them with you.
These tips have helped them stop feeling overwhelmed and I hope they help you if you’re currently in a state of overwhelm.
Why do we feel overwhelmed?
When you feel overwhelmed it’s easy to feel trapped, anxious, frustrated and stressed.
The answer to that feeling of overwhelm is always to simplify by doing less.
Even on a good day, we can all feel overwhelmed.
A sense of overwhelm from time to time is a natural part of life
Feeling overwhelmed can be caused by lack of time, having big goals we want to reach, too many responsibilities, too high expectations, too much to do or comparing ourselves to others.
If you feel overwhelmed right now, this article will share 6 tips to help you transform feeling overwhelmed into a feeling of calm, clarity and confidence and direction.
What does it mean to feel overwhelmed?
Feeling overwhelmed means a person simply has too much going on in their mind and in their life. Sometimes people feel overwhelmed by long to-do lists, impending deadlines, emotions, trying to do too much or feeling they don’t have enough time. When overwhelm strikes it’s easy to feel trapped and stuck which creates inaction.
What causes a person to feel overwhelmed?
Overwhelm comes from a feeling of not being in control and being unsure what step to take. People often feel overwhelmed when they have too many choices or too many things to do. The antidote to overwhelm is gaining greater clarity on the action steps to take and feeling confident about taking that next step.
How do I stop feeling overwhelmed with work?
When you begin to feel overwhelmed with work, it’s easy to feel stressed and anxious.
You may simply have too much going on in your mind.
Overwhelm make strike through feelings of having too much to do and too little time to do it in.
We often experience feeling overwhelmed when we have a heavy volume of work to complete, we have tight deadlines or our to-do list feels daunting.
When overwhelming feelings strike the key is to do less and focus your time and energy on simplifying your to-do list and focusing on your biggest priorities.
Use your time management skills to delegate specific tasks and create better boundaries around what you can really achieve in a specific time frame.
8 time management tips to manage time effectively
How to manage when you’re feeling overwhelmed
Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of life but you can breakthrough that feeling of overwhelm if you follow these 6 tips.
1. Take ownership of overwhelm
Take ownership of feeling overwhelmed and take responsibility for accepting to do all of that busy work.
You may have taken on too much work, which creates the overwhelm.
Rather than planning effectively, you may have given yourself too tight deadlines to get the work done.
If you are running from meeting to meeting, handling multiple projects and probably not giving the right attention and focus to the ones that really mattered, it’s easy to experience overwhelm.
Instead of doing everything, take a step back and get clear on the projects and activities that create the biggest impact.
Simplifying helps when you feel overwhelmed
Rather than overcommit, simplify the number of activities and give yourself longer deadlines.
When we see ourselves as responsible for everything, it becomes our choice to take on too many projects or not.
We can say NO to the work or the opportunity.
Setting better boundaries can reduce our sense of overwhelm.
Rather than doing everything, we can find people with expertise to delegate to or outsource the work.
2. Confront your fear of missing out (FOMO)
So often I used to find myself overcommitted because I was afraid to say “no.”
This could be because I didn’t want to disappoint a client or friend or I was worried about another supplier picking up the work.
I was worried about missing out on an opportunity.
Saying no can reduce overwhelm
We sometimes feel like we should say yes to everything, to take on everything.
But if we gave ourselves some headspace to reflect, we would say no more often.
We would look at the bigger picture and ask ourselves questions like “Am I the only person who could do this work?”
“Does this opportunity fit within my overarching goals for myself and my business?”
The fear of missing out can be very powerful, and make you feel overwhelmed.
But in the end it is pointless as you are just following someone else’s agenda.
3. Simplify your calendar
We have more of a choice about how we spend out time than we think.
You may have lots of projects to work on and many impending deadlines but you can make changes to give yourself some time to think and focus.
Even though you may have a huge amount of projects to work on, you can still create space to think and plan.
Buy yourself more time by finding team mates to take on some of the work.
If you don’t have the right levels of energy and focus to maximise your unique strengths you won’t be fully committed and the work won’t be as good.
You can always create more time, say no to a project or delegate.
If you can automate some of the processes that are taking up your time, even better.
This will help you stop feeling overwhelmed.
4. Focus on your most important work first
Multi-tasking at 20% capacity and worrying about everything drops our energy levels and focus.
Plus, it makes us really unproductive and creates feelings of overwhelm.
Your workload may look impossible, but by focusing on the most important thing first, you will make progress.
One productivity tip that will work for you to stop feeling overwhelmed is to reflect at the end of the day on everything that you achieved.
Pick three things that went really well.
Then think about the next day and the three things that you want to achieve that day.
If you are focused on achievement and progress, rather than the sheer weight of work, you will stay motivated and energised rather than feeling overwhelmed.
5. Focus on boosting energy
I learnt this lesson a long time ago and it has really helped me through any really busy period.
Rest and rejuvenation are essential for doing your most productive work and stop you feeling overwhelmed.
Personally, I can take on most things if I feel energised and had a good nights’ sleep.
We all have different periods of the day where we just seem to work a bit better.
For me, it is the morning. For you, it may be in the evening.
If I am tired, I can lose motivation and perspective. Things can often feel bigger than they actually are.
When I’m overworked I can also become easily distracted. What about you?
Also, if you are feeling overwhelmed, take yourself out of the situation, and give yourself five minutes to think through the situation you’re in.
Go for a walk, go to the gym, meditate – whatever works for you to get refocused.
6. Manage your time effectively
Feeling overwhelmed can happen every day if left unchecked.
Make a commitment to say no more to overwhelm by managing your time effectively.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I make a commitment to take control of my time and focus it in the areas and the projects that really matter.
Spend more of your time in the areas where you can create the biggest impact, doing the things you love to do and are best at.
Transform overwhelm into confident, focused action
These 6 tips will help you transform feeling overwhelmed into feeling more clear, confident and capable.
To succeed both personally and professionally, we must deliberately build more freedom and focus time into our lives.
If we don’t then we will constantly feel overwhelmed.
No one else is going to do this for us.
Instead of running nonstop, or feeling stuck, with no end in sight to overwhelm, you now have 6 strategies you can use to stop feeling overwhelmed and get into confident, focused action.
Over to you.
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About the Author
Mark Pettit is a small business coach to business owners who want to simplify their time, energy and focus so they can multiply their freedom, impact and results. Visit the website to find out more.
This article originally appeared at Lucemi Consulting
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If you’re struggling with overwhelm at work, read my article on how to stop feeling overwhelmed at work.