“There is too little time for all that I have to get done. I’ve got to get some control in my life.” This is the most frequent opening conversation with people seeking leadership coaching. Whether it is an executive, a business owner, someone in transition, or a working mother, people live in an overwhelmed state of being.
There is an accompanying angst with being overwhelmed. It may be difficult or impossible to engage in the most significant areas of life or work because being overwhelmed is draining all of your energy. You feel stuck in a vicious cycle with no relief in sight. You can’t seem to get any traction to pull yourself out. You lose sleep, you don’t eat well, and then your health suffers. Relationships suffer as well. Like a ship taking on water, there is a sinking feeling about life. You’ve lost your buoyancy.
Change is Possible.
It is possible to escape the draining effect of being overwhelmed and work with intention instead of angst. The primary step is to recognize you got yourself into this predicament due to your own choices. You thought you could do it all. You said yes too often. Blaming others or your circumstances only delays the needed change. Living as a victim leads you to make poor choices trying to change your circumstances. The second step is to realize you CAN change and in fact, MUST change.
Once you take responsibility for where you are and decide you are going to make some changes, it is possible to gain the kind of traction that results in transformation.
Allow me to share five ways to go from overwhelmed to being in charge of life. Each one is accompanied with a short mantra ala Nike.
Five Life Hacks to Overcome being Overwhelmed
Do it now – “Just do it.” If you can get it off your plate quickly, just do it. Answer the email, make the phone call, pay the bill, send the proposal, etc.
Don’t Do it– “Just say no.” There are things you need to stop doing. The world will not fall apart nor will your life if you simply say I do not need to do that. I tell every person I work with to create a “do not do” list before they create a “to do” list.
Delegate it– “Just let someone else do it.” Here is where some of your “don’t do” list should go. You can’t do everything. Someone is better than you at some things. Give them the pleasure of doing what they will enjoy and do well. And yes, sometimes you will have to pay them for it.
“Your life is meant to be more than an endless to do list.”
Defer it– “Just wait.” Not everything has to be done today especially if you want margins to attend to the most important areas of life.
Design it –“Just automate it.” If something is done repeatedly create a process, a system or a schedule. Time and energy are wasted when you treat reoccurring tasks like they are new. You create space and reserve energy with a good system in place.
Your Next Step
Take time to write down everything you are doing or feel obligated to do. Then, view each one through the lens of the five hacks. Clarity will surface about each task. You can even use the mantra to reinforce your decisions.