Crush overwhelm with these five techniques
Every day, we’re all bombarded with hundreds (if not thousands) of messages, emails, notifications, phone calls and other distractions.
Not only do these distractions often prevent us from doing our most important work and getting into a ‘flow’ zone with tasks, but they can create feelings of overwhelm and feeling busier than we actually are or need to be.
Feeling ‘busy’ is often mistaken in our society as a metric of importance or productivity, but it’s definitely not the case.
The most productive people prioritise their tasks, say no more often, don’t attempt to multitask and instead – they switch off distractions and focus wholly on one task at a time.
Here’s my five techniques to crushing overwhelm and getting things done.
Eat the frog
I love to use the phrase ‘eat the frog’ by Mark Twain. In full, the quote is: “If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.”This is obviously not about eating an actual frog – but about doing your hardest, biggest, and most important task first. It’s likely that this is the task that’s going to overwhelm you for the day until you get into it… And the more you procrastinate on it, the less likely it is to going to get done and the more you’re likely to sweat over it.
By saying ‘no’ more often, you’re actually saying ‘yes’ – you’re saying that you’re fully committing to what you’ve prioritised, and you’re removing the things that will distract or detract from these essential tasks.This is something that I’ve really had to commit to, because I (like most of us women) are people-pleasers and hate to disappoint. But I can guarantee, somethings got to give eventually because you can’t do everything. And nor should you want to. Which leads me to…
Have clear boundaries
I have boundaries around many things in my life, and I’ve put these in places very strategically and purposefully in order to protect my energy, health and personal relationships, and to be more productive in the areas that count. These boundaries get challenged regularly by others who question why I do this, but this doesn’t bother me because I would rather have a polite but firm response to these people rather than burn myself out, not finish my most important projects, or run myself and my relationships down in the process. Obviously, these boundaries need to be flexible at times but YOU get to decide when. Some of my boundaries include:
• Switching my phone onto airplane mode at 8pm
• Turning off notifications on all social media apps so that I get to decide when I check them
• Taking at least 3 hours for myself to relax and not do any work on weekends
• Booking no more than one dinner / night out during the work week
• Booking no more than three social events each weekend
• No more than one breakfast event during the work week (unless something major is coming up)
Plan and prioritise
This is the fastest and most effective way to crush overwhelm. While everything’s swirling around in your head, it can create unnecessary stress because you have NO idea how you’re going to get everything done or what the best order is for all of the tasks or projects that you have on the go. Take a blank piece of paper and write down EVERYTHING you have in your head. I like to compartmentalise these: e.g. life admin (for things like dentist appointments, hair appointments, etc); projects (for the major creative ideas you want to bring to life), work (for the major projects you have at work) and so on.Once everything’s out on paper, choose your priorities and get the tasks scheduled into your calendar.If it’s not scheduled, it generally doesn’t happen.
Surrender and trust the process
After I’ve done all of the above, I try to surrender and trust the process. If multiple competing priorities come up at once, I will make the decision at the time what I’ll focus on – or I’ll get help with it.Trust that you’ll be able to make the best decisions in the moment, and that you can handle any situation that arises.