30 May Overwhelm
With hectic schedules, demanding jobs and busy personal lives, many of my clients talk about experiencing overwhelm. The feeling of having too much to do and not knowing how to manage it all. It can make people feel anxious or panicked, and it can have a detrimental impact on their lives, well-being and productivity.
Addressing overwhelm through coaching allows people to break down what they have to do and find their own strategies to get to where they want to be.
When I coach I don’t offer advice, so here are some of the strategies my clients use to manage times when they feel overwhelmed.
My clients tell me that they list everything they have to do and prioritise them. Timeframes and deadlines are allocated to each job and they are put into an order. It may be that a big project is focused on and nothing else is started until it is complete. Alternatively, people decide to finish tasks that can be completed quickly to clear the decks for a project which will take longer.
Plan your time. I have heard many people explaining how they organise their diary. Many have different systems which blend together. For example, they use year planners to note long term events and deadlines. In another format they note completion dates for the next two or three months. They also have weekly planners which breaks down what they are going to do every day. Tasks are allocated at the weekend for the week ahead. One client told me that she breaks down each day into two hour slots and plans what she is going to do in these times.
Occasionally something happens which means that they can’t stick to the timeframe they originally planned. In these instances they calmly find a different time in their diary to complete it.
- Be organised
At times of overwhelm it is important to be organised. Clients tell me that they prepare in advance in their professional and personal lives. At work they may set up for a meeting the next day before they leave their workplace. At home they organise things they need in advance. They also see opportunities that will save them time. They recognise that if they do something now it will save time in the long run.
They organise and tidy their homes, desks and workspaces. Tidying the physical space clears their heads and allows them to think and perform more effectively. Having a good old sort out is energising. On a practical level they can find what they need easily and work with a better flow.
- Ask for help
In the workplace it may be appropriate to delegate tasks or to talk through overwhelming situations with colleagues. This is helpful to ensure a team approach, clarity moving forward and to assign responsibility. Explaining the situation to a line manager or senior leader could also be a good idea as they might have useful strategies or suggestions to ease workload.
At home, depending on their personal circumstances, people have support from their partners, parents and friends, and outsource jobs such the cleaning and ironing. They may employ a Virtual Assistant or have assistance with childcare.
- It is good enough
Without compromising on their standards, clients have talked about knowing that they have completed a task and it is ‘good enough’. It doesn’t mean they have done the bare minimum or a poor job; it means that they know they have finished something to the best of their ability and are happy with the result. They recognise that committing more hours will not improve it hugely, and their time is better spent on something else.
I have spoken to fellow NLP practitioners about overwhelm and they described how they visualise overwhelm. They may see it as an inanimate object and focus on what it looks like and where they see it. Then they physically take a step back from it, or pick it up and move it away.
At other times they visualise themselves working with ease in the situation that is making them feel overwhelmed. They see themselves carrying out and completing tasks, managing their time and being calm and productive.
Despite being focused on getting jobs done, many clients have told me about the importance of their health and well-being when they feel overwhelmed. They talk about getting enough sleep, eating healthily, playing sports, spending time with family and friends, going outside in the fresh air and making time to relax. This helps to foster good mental and physical health at a demanding time. They realise that they need to focus on themselves to be productive and successful.
- Acknowledge progress
As they work through overwhelming times in their lives, my clients tell me that they acknowledge and celebrate their progress towards meeting their deadlines or goals. They see how well they are doing and how far they have come, and they have their eyes fixed on a completion date for when their situation or workload will ease.
Overwhelm. It’s a wholly underwhelming concept to me!