Letting Go of Overwhelm

It’s a choice.

A common thinking trap that wastes our time.

What are thoughts and emotions that cost us time and those that make us time.  And what an interesting question to consider.  When you step back to think how you are using your time, it can be interesting to note the patterns particularly when we’re overwhelmed.

For example, consider that 50% of our brain time is spent toggling from thoughts about the past to thoughts about the future.  We’re not even in the present moment.  Also, thoughts and emotions like:  indecision, confusion, worrying, regretting, and the actual thought of being overwhelmed.  All of these things cost us time in the present.  None of them create the space we need in our brain to get things done.

And yet that is what most of us want.  To feel focused, competent, confident, prepared.  Whether that’s at work or life.

Let’s dig into overwhelm for a moment, because this is something I see and hear a lot in leaders I work with.  And honestly me too.

Overwhelmed is a thought and an emotion.  It is one we choose.  We think there is too much on our plates, too many conflicting priorities.  Too many tasks or deliverables.  This also generates the emotion of overwhelmed, feeling swamped, inundated.

The effect of this on others is important….because as leaders are emotions are contagious.  In the old days, I considered myself “very busy” and that was a good thing.  It meant I was going important things, it meant I was needed.

And I indulged in overwhelm a lot.  You know the story, inside feeling overburdened, poor me, sometimes quietly resenting it all.

How ironic to step back and reflect on my choices.  As leaders, we are role models.  What example are we setting with overwhelm?  I did this a lot.  I ran from meeting to meeting.  I thought they were all important.  They were not.  I thought I needed to participate and contribute to everything.  I did not.  I spent nights and weekends in the office.  Others did not.

When we don’t have clarity on our purpose or priorities it is easy to fall into this destructive thinking trap.  These thoughts derail us from focus and action.  Confidence and composure.

Managing overwhelm:  Seeds to plant in your brain.

1.    Recognize this is a choice.  It is our brain telling us we have “too” much.  There are “too” many demands.  Time is scarce.  We can’t do it all.  This leaves us helpless and unempowered.

2.    Don’t believe your brain. You have power and a choice.  Anything you do is a choice, and consider those choices wisely.  What is the best use of your time?  What are you in the best position to do, and how can you delegate to others?  What can you say no to? Take back your power.

3.    Make a list and really prioritize.  Use constraint.  Don’t believe that you “have to do it all.”  Choose wisely and thoughtfully.

4.    Focus, plan and take action.  The antidote to overwhelm is focused action.  Forward movement, not indulging in thoughts and emotions that derail us.  Make a commitment to yourself and honor it.

Choose to let go of overwhelm.  Because we all have enough time. Enough. Time. The same time in a day. The way we choose to think about it, utilize it, talk about it, affects our results. We have enough time if we are clear on our priorities, if we know the results we want to achieve. If we are mindful of how we are using our time and the quality of the experience.  One day. 86,400 seconds. Can you let go of overwhelm? You have a choice.