How To Overcome Overwhelm

Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 by Amelia LittlejohnNo comments

Confronting overwhelm is a common challenge that many of us face, particularly when our lives are filled with constant busyness. That's why ProTalent's Founder & Managing Director, Lydia Sinclair, is here to provide her invaluable insights on conquering overwhelm. Prepare to discover her expert tips for reclaiming control and finding peace amidst life's demanding pace.

We live and work in a busy world. That’s hard to deny, and at times, things can feel overwhelming – ever expanding to do lists, colleagues and clients making requests and demands, not to mention the personal to do list that always seems never ending – it can, and often does, get too much! So how can we stay in control and avoid paralysis from overwhelm?

Well, we all operate differently and it is important to find some hacks and tricks that work for you. But here are some of our big recommendations:

1. Change the inner monologue. If you are constantly telling yourself you have too much to do – guess what – you have too much to do and you’re unlikely to get it all done! Instead try speaking to yourself with positive language. This is a habit you can practice and master with ease – and habitually talking to yourself with kindness and positivity can change your entire life. Replace the word ‘should’ with ‘must’ on those important tasks. Are you more likely to go to the gym at the end of a long day if you tell yourself you ‘should’ go to the gym, or is it more likely to happen if you tell yourself you ‘must’ go to the gym? Try it, you’ll see!

2. Plan. I start every single day with my planner. My to do list. Whatever you want to call it. When the house is still sleeping and the birds are just starting to wake, I sit on my front doorstep with my coffee and my thoughts. I get out of my head and onto my paper. And this morning ritual has become completely sacred to me. I spend the first 20 minutes of my day setting myself up for success in the day ahead. I have a brain dump where I write everything that needs to be done – ignoring the urgency at this stage, and I cross reflect on my previous day and add anything there that has come up and needs to be done. At this point, my to do list can look more terrifying than overwhelming! But trust the process. My next task is to highlight 3 things that MUST get done today. And that will likely include the one thing I don’t want to do. But it gets highlighted and prioritised and then it gets done – which means I don’t have to stress about that one thing! Don’t write a to do list and tell yourself you’re going to get all 635 items done today – just choose 3 things and start there.

The other thing I do in this quiet 20 minutes is block out my diary for the entire day. Client meetings, staff meetings, coaching, calls, emails, project work, blog posts, social media, email checks etc – no matter how big or how small, it goes into the diary – at a designated time slot – which is controlled by me! This means I am not going to be pulled in a thousand directions all day. I will do what I say I will do when I say I will do it. Control. Not overwhelm!

3. Remember that our ability to make decisions tires throughout the day. Our brains use exactly the same amount of brain power making the really big decisions, as they do making the small decisions. But it is useful to know, understand and recognise, that much like a muscle, our decision making ability fatigues. Have you ever noticed how at the end of the day even simple decisions like what vegetables to have for dinner become really difficult decisions to make? Chances are you’ve already made a lot of decisions that day – and that decision making function has just got tired! This is really helpful to know and why point 2 above can really help reduce burning out too soon.

4. Get it out of your head! Again – another reason why point 2 is so effective. Our brains are constantly swimming in thoughts. Thoughts are transient. They come and go. But while they are coming and going at a million miles an hour, they are creating noise and distraction. Get these thoughts and ideas out of your head and onto your paper. Clear you mind and allow yourself to focus.

5. Don’t let your pinging and ringing devices be the boss of you. Check your emails and messages on your terms. Do not allow the world to constantly interrupt and distract you. Need to check your emails all the time? Fine, add an email slot into your days diary for 10 mins every hour. Otherwise check your emails at either end of the day and once again at lunchtime. You are in control remember?

6. Stop multitasking, it is ineffective! Don’t do it!

You can use our Daily Activity Planner available for free download to help plan your day and stay in control!

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