Friday, November 27th, 2020

A New Year, New Opportunities and….Overwhelm?

By Catherine Rocheleau on Jan 26 2012 • Filed under Business

New Year, New Business Goals -- Are you Overwhelmed Yet? (Photo: Piotr Bizior,’s January and the start of a new year and a revved up schedule with new demands, dreams and goals. January often rolls in like a lamb after the holidays, but quickly picks up speed and ends like a lion. Are you feeling overwhelmed?

When you become overwhelmed, your workload, thoughts and situations feel like they are out of control leaving you feeling upset, frustrated or unsure what to do next.

Overwhelm can occur whenever you experience change — even when the changes you are making are positive and moving closer to your goals. Similar feelings can be experienced when you encounter unexpected changes or your schedule revs up and taxes your time and energy leaving you feeling like you have too much to do.

When I work with clients, it is not uncommon for each to enter a state of overwhelm at one point or another as they gain momentum.
Take these three steps to help conquer your overwhelm.

1. Narrow your choices

When faced with too many choices, you are more likely to avoid making a decision. A study led by Sheena Iyengar, a management professor at Columbia University Business School, demonstrated that you are ten times more likely to make a decision if offered only six choices, than if you are offered 24 options. More choice leads to more confusion and decision making inertia.

Quickly identify your top three best options and make decisions from these options only. If you have a clear vision and understand the deliverables and outcomes you want to achieve

2. End the ‘Rattling Brain’ Syndrome

The ‘Rattling Brain’ syndrome occurs when information, ideas, or action items are bouncing around in your brain. This leaves you easily distracted, unable to concentrate or focus.

Free up your brain and take time to write down all of these ideas and thoughts. Use your journal, a notebook to get them out of your brain. Resist using your computer, tablet or smartphone – you will make a stronger connection when you put pen to paper, and this act of writing it down will set things in motion. Later, crossing it out will keep the momentum going.

At the end of each day, take 10 – 15 minutes to write your top three priorities for the next day, and write in your journal to recognize your own successes and thoughts from today.

3. Use the 15-35-10 Rule

When you feel as though you have way too much to do and not time to get it all done, the 15-35- 10 rule can provide the framework to ignite your day and the results you achieve.

Set a timer for 15 minutes and do as many things on your list as you can – answer emails that require a fast answer; make a phone call that gives a go-ahead, or files a piece of paper. The goal of this first step is to cross off as many items from you list as you possibly can, regardless of their priority. You’ll feel great when you reduce your list so quickly.

Next, reset the timer and choose “your frog”, the most overwhelming or unpleasant item on your list. Work on it for 35 minutes. Do not answer the phone, respond to emails or allow yourself to be distracted by other items on your desk. Just work on this one daunting task until your timer rings. If you are on a roll, keep the momentum going by continuing to work until a natural break in your work flow occurs.

Now, take a 10 minute break away from your desk. Take a walk, get a glass of water, or stretch – anything but work. This is time for you to rest and rejuvenate yourself.

Repeat the process again each hour. Your focus and productivity will soar and feelings of overwhelm will be reduced.
Break down projects into parts and parts into steps and take one step at a time so it’s all more manageable and less overwhelming.

“When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.” ~ Unknown

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