If you’re anything like me, you’ve uttered the words “I’m too busy” or “I’m totally overwhelmed” more than once in your life. Nearly all of my clients say it at some point during our time together. I for one, get excited when I hear/see those words. Why? It means we’ve reached the next lid to blow off and that, my friend, is totally hot!
Let’s start by looking at what overwhelm is. Essentially, it’s a decision we make when we believe we’ve surpassed our maximum. But maximum what? Well, answering that question will help you overcome it so let’s dig in.
Most commonly, I find people complain that they’ve reached their maximum in relation to TIME. It seems they have agreed to more things than they can possibly do in the time given.
UH OH SPAGHETTIOS!
When this is the case, the only thing to do is to become intimate with your calendar. I mean it, I want you to know every curve and crevice of that calendar and for your calendar to know every inch of you (are you turned on yet?)
First, write a list of all the million things that you have to do (there aren’t a million, I promise). Then open that sexy calendar of yours (I use Google Calendar and get jiggy with the colour coding), and put your to-do list in real time. Switch the settings from hourly to 15 or 30 minute slots and get specific with the amount of time something is expected to take. Make sure you plan for prep, transportation, traffic, etc. If this doesn’t make you hot then do it to Marvin Gaye’s song: Let’s Get It On.
Now you can see the truth about your overwhelm. You may discover that you really CAN complete everything that you had agreed to. If that’s the case, you will feel a massive sense of release at this stage (hello climax!).
If not, you might have minor chest pain instead. It’s okay, breathe.
If you discover that you really can’t do everything that you agreed to, now you are going to deal with that reality instead of holding onto it like a dirty little secret.
Here are some steps you can take to free yourself from the not-so-hot burden of over-committing yourself:
- Ask for help. You may prefer to do it all on your own, but let’s face it, you’re about to make a big fat mess, so it’s best to put the lone wolf aside for 5 minutes and call someone up (phone is better than text) and just ask. For example, if you need help moving into a new place, many people will reluctantly say yes. Don’t worry about the reluctance. That’s why we have the phrase Thank You. Be grateful for the YES and order pizza for everyone.
- Take your word back. If you really can’t fulfill something you agreed to, then tell the person who will have to deal with this mess ASAP. Maybe you can help them brainstorm another solution. For example, if you were going to help someone move and now you realize you can’t do that, let the person know and help them think of other people they could ask instead. Don’t procrastinate this one. The longer you wait, the worse you make it for the other person.
- Don’t be everything for anyone. If you are someone’s only person who cares, it’s time for you both to deal with that. You can now set boundaries and help them brainstorm new ways to build a support system. I want to be clear that it is not appropriate for you to be someone’s one and only- not even your partner or your depressed friend. It takes a village to cause a healthy happy person, and you my dear, are not a village. In other words, start saying no and prepare people who expect you to always say yes that the times they are a changin’.
- Catch and release over-thinking. Quite often, what’s taking up a lot of your time is well, doing nothing. What are you doing while you’re doing nothing? Thinking. Worrying. Talking to yourself. Complaining. Predicting. All things non-productive. Think of it this way, if you have time to complain or worry about not having time, then you have more time than you think. Instead of wasting time, look to see what would be the BEST use of the time you do have.
If all else fails, just quit your job, pack your bags, sell your assets, empty your savings account and move as far away as you need to so you can retire in a new currency. You could really do that you know! But I suspect a part of you wants to stay right where you are. No problem. Now you have some tools for how to handle it all powerfully, so go rock it.