Todays show is in response to me needing to take my own advice!
I’ve allowed my thinking to become a little lazy. Somewhat scattered. As such, I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed.
Thankfully – for us both if YOU can relate – overwhelm is completely overcome-able!
In todays show:
9 Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics.
Let’s dig deeper with an Overwhelm Overcoming acronym I first shared in show 429.
Step one is probably most vital. It’s where I’ve been slipping up recently.
One: O.nly focus on what you can control.
Isn’t it easy to let your thoughts drift to ALL those things that might go wrong?
To bounce from the disappointments of the past to the uncertainties of the future to the limitless and increasing by the second choices. Decisions. CONSEQUENCES of now??
I’m from time to frustrating time guilty as charged of this type of lazy, scattered thinking.
It takes some short term discipline however the result is long term effectiveness when you can, only focus on what you can control.
Other people. The weather. Traffic. And the way other people drive in bad weather (!) are beyond your control. They are simply not worth the wasted energy. Focus instead on that which you can influence.
Stuff like: The time you go to bed and get up. The way you fuel and move your body. Even, the amount of time you spend reacting to something that didn’t go to plan.
Of course this step is easier said than done. However, let’s get actionable together!
=> First, on a large, clear sheet of paper do a brain dump of everything racing around your mind and potentially adding to overwhelm.
=> Next, scribble out those things that are not directly within your ability to control or influence.
=> Now, classify what’s left as either: DO, DELEGATE or, DITCH!
=> Finally, choose the most important DO item and decide the one next step to move that DO forward.
Two: V.alue your daily progress and small wins.
Unless you’re making a conscious effort to track and appreciate your progress it can be really easy to let your focus drift to only everything you haven’t done or achieved. An ever expanding list is not motivating. In fact it can be debilitating.
Daily progress (no matter how small) is the little momentum building nudge that will help you take that next step.
The way to get actionable here is simply to write down 3 small wins each day. Even better each night before bed – and how funny that right now this is one of my awesome habits I’ve let slip (!) – so again, each night before bed jot down:
=> 3 things you did well today.
=> 3 things you’re grateful for today.
=> 3 things that would make tomorrow fantastic.
Three: E.liminate unnecessary inputs.
Given how easy it is to feel overwhelmed why would you ever let low value, unnecessary inputs clutter your mind and your life?
I’d rank most T.V. and email as unnecessary. Even those inputs that are sometimes of value yet often just distracting – so perhaps social media and the internet in general – need guidelines to keep them under control. Some useful input guidelines:
=> No computer | mobile | iPad screens in the hour before bed.
=> No email (it’s other peoples to do list for you) before you’ve spent quality, focused time on your number one most important task for the day.
=> Ditch the devices when spending time with friends and family.
Four: R.espect structure is freedom.
The ONLY reason I’m powering on with todays show right now is because I have a daily and weekly structure and last nights plan for tomorrow tells me I need to spend at least 90 minutes on the podcast today.
=> I planned my day to come the night before.
=> It’s written with tasks ordered by priority and time allocated to each.
=> I even set a timer for each task to make me knuckle down.
Now if that sounds restrictive my question to you is: Just how freeing is not getting the results you want? Or perhaps knowing that all hours in the day are hours in which you should be working | exercising | meal prepping or whatever it is that you struggle to do… and yet you’re not?
I’d 100% much rather know I have set hours for set things that then gives me the freedom of also having set hours for NO-things!
Five: W.illingness to constantly upgrade the (freedom creating!) structure and routines you design for yourself.
Have you ever clung stubbornly – yet detrimentally – to something that used to be part of your winning routine yet isn’t working so well anymore?
As a consistency queen this is absolutely a tendency I succumb to. The podcast is an example. My ego talked me out of cutting back my weekly shows for months because podcasting is easy and fun and I’d designed a really good routine. However as priorities change so to do your structures and routines need to change. A few questions to regularly ask yourself:
=> Is this the number one best use of my time right now?
=> Am I taking this action because it’s best? Or perhaps because it’s easy? It makes me feel good? It’s a habit?
=> What is the ideal daily and weekly routine that would help me achieve my number one goal?
Six: H.ave the sensory acuity to know when your focus is scattered or has slipped to that which you can’t control.
And drag it back!
As with most things it’s not about never getting off track. It’s more about how quickly you recognize you’re off track and how quickly you deploy the discipline needed to resume moving in the right direction. Here are a few tell tale signs that your focus is scattered and as such, inviting overwhelm:
=> You’re thinking in terms of generalizations that are not helpful. Everything is against me. No one can help me. All of the choices are bad.
=> You’re deleting evidence of things that are helpful. Perhaps the friend that offered some support? The colleague who’s happy to help out? The family member who’s really making an effort right now?
=> You’re distorting reality to your detriment. Maybe you’re interpreting your friends offer of support as “She must want something from me!” Or you habitually tell yourself “I never get any time off” when really you have every Sunday off and a long weekend coming up soon. Possibly you’re focusing on all the demands your family are making of your time and not recognizing that it’s because they care about you and just want to spend time with you?
Seven: E.scape to nature at least weekly.
So simple. So effective. I can always tell when I’ve skipped my weekend walk along the beaches. Come mid week I’ll feel off. Grumpy. Stuff that I can usually handle will feel… Overwhelming.
Whether it’s a walk, swim, surf or whatever for you I hugely recommend scheduling some outdoors time for your peace of mind once a week. Make it a non-negotiable appointment with you.
Which brings me to…
Eight: L.ock and Load the big rocks that keep you happy and healthy.
It fascinates me how even though the super-vast-majority of people will readily admit they feel and function better when they make time for things like exercise and meal prep they still leave these essential big rocks to chance.
If you’re in the habit of assuming you’ll have time in your week for the things that keep you happy and healthy and yet, regularly they just seem to get squeezed out of your week now is the time to lock and load them! Some examples:
=> Exercise. Ideally 30 minutes 6 days a week.
=> Meal planning. Aim for a block of a couple of hours on the weekend and again mid-week.
=> Time with those you love.
Potentially it’s not meditation for you. Maybe it’s yoga or journaling. The main thing is its precious YOU time. That ideally you can do daily and that has a very low barrier to entry so far as time, cost and location.
When I first tried to create a meditation habit I set the bar too high. 20 minutes twice a day seemed daunting. Boring. Even, a stress inducing, overwhelming waste of time! I’d force myself to sit getting increasingly frustrated at everything I wasn’t getting done. It took me a couple of years to find a routine I could easily stick to. If you’ve struggling to make the meditation habit stick in the past here are my top 3 tips:
=> Start with just 5 minutes once a day. You can build it up as it feels manageable.
=> Find a time that you feel relatively fresh. 3.30pm or just before bed is inviting a battle to stay awake.
=> Acknowledge there is no right or wrong. It’s not about a quiet mind. You’re not a failure at meditation if your mind is racing. In fact, and I can’t remember who I first heard this from however a useful analogy is to: think of meditation like reps in the gym. Each time you mind races off and you return your focus to your breath is a rep. It’s about recognizing and returning to the breath. So really those of us with busy minds are just getting more reps in… and that’s a good thing!
To get actionable today I’d love you to take just ONE of these 9 Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics for a spin. To recap:
Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics #One: Only focus on what you can control.
Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics #Two: Value your daily progress and small wins.
Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics #Three: Eliminate unnecessary inputs.
Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics #Four: Respect structure is freedom.
Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics #Five: Willingness to constantly upgrade the (freedom creating!) structure and routines you design for yourself.
Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics #Six: Have the sensory acuity to know when your focus is scattered or has slipped to that which you can’t control.
Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics #Seven: Escape to nature at least weekly.
Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics #Eight: Lock and Load the big rocks that keep you happy and healthy.
Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics #Nine: Meditate.
If you liked 9 Overwhelm Overcoming Tactics, you’ll also like: Overwhelm is lazy thinking.
If you’re yet to share the Healthification love – just click here to zip over to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review. It’d help me out big time. With gratitude, Kate.