Do you feel overwhelmed? Perhaps you’ve been spending a disproportionate amount of time working, and you’ve come to realize that your work / life balance is totally out of whack. Maybe you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, but you’re having a hard time deciding between too many ideas. If you’re tired of feeling frazzled, overworked, sleep-deprived and stressed out, here are 5 steps you can take to stop feeling so overwhelmed.
Steps to Stop Feeling So Overwhelmed
Successful people tend to have excessive numbers of goals – yet they actually do meet many of their goals, if not all of them.
The key: List your goals. Then focus on the ONE highest priority goal you think is most important right now.
For example, if you’re earning your MBA, creating a compelling dissertation would be a good candidate for your choice of most important current goal. You might also have goals to learn Spanish and publish a futuristic thriller; but if successfully completing your MBA is your most important goal, now is not the time to worry about the others.
Once you’ve decided which goal is most important to you, dissect it to figure out what all the major components are. For example, if writing an MBA dissertation is your goal, your paper will include list items such as the following:
- Choose a dissertation topic
- Meet with professor
- Research and write the paper
- Create the reference section
- Write the abstract
- Send to proofreaders
Then create a timeline, including dates, for when you will work on each step on your list.
Do not get sidetracked from your goal until you’ve successfully completed it. Once you’re finished, only at that point are you allowed to start another goal. The exception: If at any point while you are working towards a goal, you realize that it isn’t as important to you as you initially thought it was, you are allowed to scratch that goal off your list and move on to the next goal.
If you can learn to delegate, it will help you to get out of the awful cycle of feeling constantly overwhelmed. Make an effort to delegate any task that others in your sphere can do better than you can. If your assistant at work is good at filing and organizing, assign her this task rather than doing it yourself. If you have children, delegate some of the household tasks to them instead of doing them all on your own.
Also delegate any task that doesn’t make financial sense for you to continue doing. If your time is worth $75 an hour, don’t spend it mowing your lawn. Pay someone else to mow the lawn for you and instead devote your time towards a more important activity such as working towards meeting your most important goal.
There are probably some unimportant items hanging around on your to do list. Let them go. For example, do you really need to go grocery shopping two or three times a week? If you make a shopping list, one trip per week is probably sufficient. Free yourself from your overwhelmed state by scratching these unimportant tasks off your to do list.
Give some thought to the repetitive tasks you spend time on every week. Some of them can probably be automated. For example, you can create email message templates or canned responses to automate the task of sending emails. You can enable automated payments from your bank account to cover your monthly bills.
People tend to get most overwhelmed when we are out of our comfort zones. This often happens when new beginnings are taking place. You just got hired for a new job. You moved to a new place. You started a new relationship.
This is partially because humans tend to make most everyday decisions based on habits. Perhaps you have a habit of stopping at Starbucks every morning to fill your coffee mug. You shop at the same grocery store and you patronize the same dry cleaner. You buy certain brands of breakfast cereal out of habit.
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If you’ve recently moved, your old habits don’t serve you anymore. Now you need to make a whole new set of decisions such as where to shop and where to take your dry cleaning. Having too many decisions to make can lead to overwhelm.
Kelly Exeter points out that one of the keys to reducing overwhelm is decreasing the quantities of daily decisions you need to make. She also points out that feeling overwhelmed is, in and of itself, a habit.
Look at your to do list and ask yourself how you can shrink the daily decision-making demands placed on you. Do you have any unproductive habits that are contributing to your state of overwhelm or holding you back from success? Learning about how habits work can help you replace old, counterproductive habits with healthy habits that will simplify the decision making process. This, in turn, can free you from the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Each item on this list is designed to help you narrow your focus and concentrate on making truly important decisions while minimizing or eliminating any that aren’t critical. Working your way through this list of steps will help you to regain control of your life after having felt like you’ve been overwhelmed.