In my almost 20 years of editing and writing, one of the biggest problems I’ve seen my clients deal with is overwhelm. I had a moment of overwhelm this morning, and as I was going through my steps of resetting and moving forward, I thought you might deal with some overwhelm too.
What does overwhelm look like?
It’s when you have 100 things to do but only time to do 10. It’s when you have requests for information coming from every direction, but you still only have time to do those 10 most important things.
Some of my ghostwriting projects resulted from overwhelm. The client had the concept and the material, but they were overwhelmed with the process and the time needed to write a book.
Many of my writing clients come to me because they want to avoid overwhelm. They know writing is important to their business, but they have other areas that need their focus. They choose to reduce the overwhelm by bringing in a professional to do the work for them.
I’ve coached doctoral students through the overwhelm they face when they are finishing up their dissertation. The sheer quantity of research and writing in a relatively short time, along with the fact that their degree hinges on the successful completion of that project, leads to dismal completion numbers. The cause: overwhelm.
It doesn’t matter if you are a business professional, an executive, a pastor, a housewife, work in the service industry, or are a student, overwhelm will strike.
Are you ready to deal with overwhelm?
Marie Folio, who offers a free video workshop on dealing with overwhelm, explains, “When you’ve got a million and one things renting space in your head and your heart, it becomes difficult to slow down, get clear and start getting things done.”
That is exactly what you need to do though.
- Slow Down
- Get Clear
- Get Things Done
These three steps work to combat any kind of overwhelm.
Slow Down – Don’t Let Overwhelm Take Control
We are all busy. Errands, work, commitments, activities, dinners, they stack up quickly. I’ve seen some people’s calendars that make me want to crawl under a rock and hide. Their stress levels match the fullness of the calendar.
I’m not saying clear your calendar if you want to prevent or get rid of overwhelm. What I’m saying is to leave blank space.
Just Say NO!
If you are anything like me, the word “no” is difficult to use. Let me tell you, it will become your dearest friend in dealing with overwhelm.
When you have a jam-packed week and a friend calls asking if you want to come to an event on your one night off, say no. Ask them to remember you for the next event, wish them the best, and keep that free time on your calendar.
When your project list is so full you are having trouble leaving work before bedtime, say no to the offer of another project. Focus on finishing what is on your desk. Get it done right, accept the next project, and create positive traction.
If you don’t control your project list, be honest with the person who does. Let them know that you want to give each project your best, but the current expectations make that impossible. Ask them to prioritize, shift deadlines, and create some breathing space.
If you are writing a book or creating content for your website, don’t let the immensity of the project cause overwhelm. Take a break and slow down for a minute. Examine the next step and focus on finishing that one piece of the puzzle.
Slow down and you’ll be surprised at how quickly overwhelm turns into progress.
Get Clear – Clarity Defeats Overwhelm
One of the biggest causes of overwhelm is not having a clearly defined map to success. For some, that is a detailed to-do list. For others, it is clearly defined goals they can work toward. Whatever brings you clarity, that is what you need to focus on.
Set aside time in your schedule (this is part of slow down) and determine what you need to focus on. If you work from a to-do list, don’t look at all of it at once. Focus on the big things first. If you are a goals person, evaluate your progress and set your next step to reaching them. If you don’t have goals set, I highly recommend you do so now. These might be life goals, business goals, or even goals for your project. Goals give you structure and help stave off overwhelm by guiding you toward your desired result.
Get Things Done – The Ultimate Antidote
The best solution for overwhelm is to get unstuck and get things done. I hear you, that is sometimes easier said than done. Here are some recommendations to help you get started.
If you work from a to-do list, choose the top 3-5 important items each day and get them done first. Then you can move on to the smaller items. Why? Completing one large item gives you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, and that leads to momentum.
Don’t be a perfectionist. A catchphrase I’m seeing a lot lately is “embrace the imperfect,” and it’s true! Imperfect action that gets results is much more productive than a perfect action that never happens.
Seek accountability. Sometimes you need someone to give you a nudge. This might be a coach, a consultant, a mentor, or a friend who doesn’t buy your excuses. Find someone to talk to who can see through your overwhelm and move you toward action.
No matter how overwhelmed you feel or when you are facing overwhelm, know that you’ve got this! Slow down, get clear, and get things done.
If you need a writing coach or consultant to help you move through overwhelm and into clarity and focus, schedule a free consultation call with me today!