There seems to be an outbreak of overwhelm on this planet. Everyone believes they have to be busy, on the internet, and on the go every second.
When you feel overworked and overwhelmed, stop and listen to the stories you’re telling yourself about your time, your work, and your life. In order to change your feelings, you have to change your thoughts. You could say that your problem with overwhelm is all in your head!
We forget that life happens in the moment. Nothing else is real. We only have to live in the now and work on one thing at a time.
Overwhelm doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion – a story we tell ourselves that offers us an excuse to get out of what we don’t want to do or don’t think we can do.
But we can choose to live our lives one choice and moment at a time. If you’ve been feeling overworked and overwhelmed lately, the tips below are for you.
- Begin each day by doing your most difficult task first. Set your timer for 30 minutes and begin. Usually that’s all it takes to get going. Work until time is up. You’ll feel less distraction and fear. You’ll have progress to celebrate. And with momentum behind you, you’ll be ready to take the next step forward.
- Be proactive and get organized. Clear unnecessary clutter. Eliminate all but the essential that gives you value. Organization isn’t about perfection; it’s about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money and improving your overall quality of life. And be sure to take 15 minutes at the end of your day to clear off your desk; then list your three most important tasks for the following day.
- Manage your energy. Everything around us is made up of energy. To attract positive things into your life, start by giving off positive energy. Once you’re in the positive, the secret to getting ahead is to focus all of your energy not on fixing and fighting the old, but on building and growing something new.
- Take one day at a time. No matter what’s happening, anyone can efficiently fight the battles of just one day. It’s only when you add the battles of those two abysmal eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that life gets overwhelmingly complicated.
- Tame perfectionism. Stop over-thinking and over-analyzing everything. Do your best and surrender the rest. Let go. So many creations and inventions never come to fruition because we spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing. And then, once we begin “doing,” we never think what we’re doing is good enough. Like overwhelm, perfection is an illusion.
- Get over feeling like everything is so important. It isn’t. Stop overworking yourself. Don’t exaggerate the importance of things. Learn to say no to others so you can say yes to yourself. Learn to go with your own flow.
- Remind yourself that you are good enough. Keep a success journal. Note what you got right. Celebrate what goes good. Create the feeling of success in your mind. Visualize the end result that you want to see.
- Be mindful while you work. Allow the distractions to float out of your awareness like a passing cloud. Continue focusing on the task at hand. Remind yourself that there is nothing to fear. Focus on being productive, not being busy.
- Shift your perspective. Mix things up. Take a walk. Move to another room. Work in a different chair. Go to the library. A different location brings a different perspective and clarity. Just change your view.
- Breathe. If you’re feeling anxious or fearful, relax your mind and concentrate on your breath. It connects you to your center and the present moment. Keep calm. Yes, the time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it.
- Make time for quiet. Listen for guidance. We avoid getting quiet in order to avoid our problems. We prefer distraction, busyness and social media. It’s less painful than admitting we might need to do something different or change.
- Make a thought list. Write down the thoughts that are filling your head. Write down what you need to do, want to do, and should do. Write down good ideas and distracting thoughts. Go back to it later and cross out anything that’s not important, helpful or necessary.
- Share the load. Give up perfectionism and trying to do everything yourself. Learn to delegate. If you can’t afford to hire some help, find a way to barter. Release your burden and allow others to feel needed.
- See suffering as a choice. We create our lives. We choose to get support or go at it alone. We decide what to do and when to do it. We decide when to hang on and when to let go. Overwhelm is an addiction and an illusion. We use it to justify an irrational way of living. (Marc and Angel discuss this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Flip your self-talk from negative to positive. Do these lines sound familiar? “I’ll never get this finished.” “I can’t.” “What else can go wrong?” “I have too much on my plate.” Change your self-defeating thoughts around: “I’ll finish one thing at a time.” “I’m good enough.” “What can I learn from this?” “Tomorrow is another day.” Overwhelm comes from your thinking. Manage your self-talk and your feelings will change.
- Be grateful for what you have now. Having is about the present moment. Wanting is about the future. When your focus is always on what you don’t have now, you’ll never reach a future you’re satisfied with. And the more you want, the more overwhelmed you’ll feel.
- Don’t judge yourself. Give yourself a break. Let yourself off the hook. You’re only human. There’s no need to compare yourself to others. Own your strengths. Learn to think well of yourself. Tomorrow’s another day.
- Let go of the need to feel important. We are part of a culture that thrives on feeling important through busy-ness. We live in a society that chases money and fame. We have a crazy need to be popular. It’s a trap that keeps us striving instead of thriving. It’s a choice that brings on feelings of overwhelm.
- Make self-care a priority. If you concentrate on your problems and weaknesses, the world will too. It believes exactly what you tell it — through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. And get ready to be accommodated.
- Commit to a healthy lifestyle. Exercise energizes you. Just do it. Don’t skip meals when you are under pressure. Choose real food. Don’t sleep less to get more done. Sleep brings focus and clarity.
- Do what brings you joy. Visit your favorite book store or coffee shop. Call your best friend. Spend time in nature. Get a massage. Take a long walk. Stop the overwork and overwhelm. Replace them with joy.
- Make Sunday a fun-day. Give yourself a full day for play. Refill your bucket. That means catching up on sleep, making time for laughter and fun, and otherwise making time for recovery from the chaos of your routine.
- Be generous. Over-tip taxi cab drivers and waitresses when you can. Volunteer in soup kitchens. Visit the elderly. Give to those who can’t pay you back. Because doing so will free your mind and make you feel incredible, and you’ll be making the world a better place to live in. Seriously, you have not truly lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.
- Make time to connect with others face to face. Life is more than text messages and tweets. Sometimes the message is lost in the medium. Take digital breaks and spend more time connecting face-to-face and flesh-to-flesh with the people who matter to you.
- Spend more time with the right people. As Marc said in 1,000 Little Things, “These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways. They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be, unconditionally.”
For the cynics out there who might say that the list of ideas above is too long to reduce overwhelm, there are really only two steps you need to start with:
- Identify what’s most important to you.
- Eliminate as much as you possibly can of everything else.
And once you get your mind wrapped around this, use the 25 tips above to support your efforts in applying this two-step process to various parts of your life.