Do you find overwhelm creeps up on you far too often? Sometimes you might know its coming, for example, you might have a couple of big orders in the pipeline, but at other times it can be a bit more sneaky – and you can unwittingly find yourself with that unpleasant panicky and stressed-out feeling.
It feels like you have a huge mountain to climb (or many mountains!) and you just don’t know where to start.
When you’re overwhelmed your productivity can nose dive….which of course leads to even more overwhelm. Then life and work are just no fun at all.
Working as a business psychologist and coach I have found some things over the years that have really worked for my clients. Best of all they are simple to put in place, yet very effective. Here is a quick and simple 5 step plan for beating overwhelm and increasing your productivity, so you can race up those mountains with a spring in your step – and actually enjoy the journey!
Step One: Find some Space.
Space to think, space to breathe, space to plan ahead, space to prioritise. Never under estimate how a bit of time out or mental space can help you be more productive. Try to build in some form of exercise every day no matter how little. It will help you think more productively, and to prioritise. Try to take regular time off, go and do something different or failing that work from somewhere different now and again. If you simply can’t get away from your desk, you can still find time and space by taking five or six big long breaths. This will relieve stress, bring oxygen to your brain and help you think more productively and clearly.
Step Two: Smarter not Harder.
There are lots of ways that you can work smarter not harder. Once you’ve worked out your key priorities, you can decide what to put to the bottom of your to do list, and what to take off it entirely! Work out what you can outsource or delegate, and of course use technology wherever you can. What apps or software could help lighten your load to make your journey upwards easier rather than harder? For example many of my clients use QuickBooks to deal with the financial elements of their business, and things like Hootesuite or MeetEdgar to help them manage social media. Additionally, is there anyone who’s expertise or support you can call on to help you move forward with more ease?
Step Three: Small and Forward.
When you’re overwhelmed you tend to look more at the big picture and can stall because all you can see is that enormous mountain in front of you. Every mountain is climbed by taking slow and steady steps. Such steps will help you prioritise and outsource. For each key priority look at it as you would a mountain – what are the base camps to reach along the way i.e. your key milestones. Work those out and then start taking small bite-size or baby steps towards each milestone or camp. Breathe deeply, and enjoy the views, as you start moving forward you begin to feel more in control and build a sense of achievement.
Step Four: Swallow your Frogs.
This concept comes from Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy, a top personal effectiveness guru. It is based on an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day. To ensure you keep moving forward at a good rate, set yourself the goal of swallowing your two worst frogs as soon as you get to your desk each morning. These are the ones you are most likely to procrastinate on, but also the ones that will help yourself and your business move forward the most.
Step Five: Actually do Them!
Nothing that I’ve written here is rocket science, but the problem is when we’re feeling overwhelmed and underproductive we do not always think clearly, and we don’t always do what we know we should do. Make sure you make the leap from knowing to doing. Plan the above steps into your daily routine – or the steps you know will make you more productive and then ensure you Actually Do Them!
Good luck, happy climbing and let me know how you get on!