The best time to relax and regroup is when you don’t have time for it.
There seems to be an outbreak of overwhelm on this planet. Everyone believes they have to be busy, on the internet, and on the go every second.
When you feel overworked and overwhelmed, stop and listen to the stories you’re telling yourself about your time, your work, and your life. In order to change your feelings, you have to change your thoughts. You could say that your problem with overwhelm is all in your head!
We forget that life happens in the moment. Nothing else is real. We only have to live in the now and work on one thing at a time.
Overwhelm doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion – a story we tell ourselves that offers us an excuse to get out of what we don’t want to do or don’t think we can do.
But we can choose to live our lives one choice and moment at a time. If you’ve been feeling overworked and overwhelmed lately, the tips below are for you.
- Begin each day by doing your most difficult task first. Set your timer for 30 minutes and begin. Usually that’s all it takes to get going. Work until time is up. You’ll feel less distraction and fear. You’ll have progress to celebrate. And with momentum behind you, you’ll be ready to take the next step forward.
- Be proactive and get organized. Clear unnecessary clutter. Eliminate all but the essential that gives you value. Organization isn’t about perfection; it’s about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money and improving your overall quality of life. And be sure to take 15 minutes at the end of your day to clear off your desk; then list your three most important tasks for the following day.
- Manage your energy. Everything around us is made up of energy. To attract positive things into your life, start by giving off positive energy. Once you’re in the positive, the secret to getting ahead is to focus all of your energy not on fixing and fighting the old, but on building and growing something new.
- Take one day at a time. No matter what’s happening, anyone can efficiently fight the battles of just one day. It’s only when you add the battles of those two abysmal eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that life gets overwhelmingly complicated. (Read The Power of Now.)
- Tame perfectionism. Stop over-thinking and over-analyzing everything. Do your best and surrender the rest. Let go. So many creations and inventions never come to fruition because we spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing. And then, once we begin “doing,” we never think what we’re doing is good enough. Like overwhelm, perfection is an illusion.
- Get over feeling like everything is so important. It isn’t. Stop overworking yourself. Don’t exaggerate the importance of things. Learn to say no to others so you can say yes to yourself. Learn to go with your own flow.
- Remind yourself that you are good enough. Keep a success journal. Note what you got right. Celebrate what goes good. Create the feeling of success in your mind. Visualize the end result that you want to see.
- Be mindful while you work. Allow the distractions to float out of your awareness like a passing cloud. Continue focusing on the task at hand. Remind yourself that there is nothing to fear. Focus on being productive, not being busy.
- Shift your perspective. Mix things up. Take a walk. Move to another room. Work in a different chair. Go to the library. A different location brings a different perspective and clarity. Just change your view.
- Breathe. If you’re feeling anxious or fearful, relax your mind and concentrate on your breath. It connects you to your center and the present moment. Keep calm. Yes, the time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it.
- Make time for quiet. Listen for guidance. We avoid getting quiet in order to avoid our problems. We prefer distraction, busyness and social media. It’s less painful than admitting we might need to do something different or change.
- Make a thought list. Write down the thoughts that are filling your head. Write down what you need to do, want to do, and should do. Write down good ideas and distracting thoughts. Go back to it later and cross out anything that’s not important, helpful or necessary.
- Share the load. Give up perfectionism and trying to do everything yourself. Learn to delegate. If you can’t afford to hire some help, find a way to barter. Release your burden and allow others to feel needed.
- See suffering as a choice. We create our lives. We choose to get support or go at it alone. We decide what to do and when to do it. We decide when to hang on and when to let go. Overwhelm is an addiction and an illusion. We use it to justify an irrational way of living. (Marc and Angel discuss this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Flip your self-talk from negative to positive. Do these lines sound familiar? “I’ll never get this finished.” “I can’t.” “What else can go wrong?” “I have too much on my plate.” Change your self-defeating thoughts around: “I’ll finish one thing at a time.” “I’m good enough.” “What can I learn from this?” “Tomorrow is another day.” Overwhelm comes from your thinking. Manage your self-talk and your feelings will change.
- Be grateful for what you have now. Having is about the present moment. Wanting is about the future. When your focus is always on what you don’t have now, you’ll never reach a future you’re satisfied with. And the more you want, the more overwhelmed you’ll feel.
- Don’t judge yourself. Give yourself a break. Let yourself off the hook. You’re only human. There’s no need to compare yourself to others. Own your strengths. Learn to think well of yourself. Tomorrow’s another day.
- Let go of the need to feel important. We are part of a culture that thrives on feeling important through busy-ness. We live in a society that chases money and fame. We have a crazy need to be popular. It’s a trap that keeps us striving instead of thriving. It’s a choice that brings on feelings of overwhelm.
- Make self-care a priority. If you concentrate on your problems and weaknesses, the world will too. It believes exactly what you tell it — through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. And get ready to be accommodated.
- Commit to a healthy lifestyle. Exercise energizes you. Just do it. Don’t skip meals when you are under pressure. Choose real food. Don’t sleep less to get more done. Sleep brings focus and clarity. (Read 8 Weeks to Optimum Health.)
- Do what brings you joy. Visit your favorite book store or coffee shop. Call your best friend. Spend time in nature. Get a massage. Take a long walk. Stop the overwork and overwhelm. Replace them with joy.
- Make Sunday a fun-day. Give yourself a full day for play. Refill your bucket. That means catching up on sleep, making time for laughter and fun, and otherwise making time for recovery from the chaos of your routine.
- Be generous. Over-tip taxi cab drivers and waitresses when you can. Volunteer in soup kitchens. Visit the elderly. Give to those who can’t pay you back. Because doing so will free your mind and make you feel incredible, and you’ll be making the world a better place to live in. Seriously, you have not truly lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.
- Make time to connect with others face to face. Life is more than text messages and tweets. Sometimes the message is lost in the medium. Take digital breaks and spend more time connecting face-to-face and flesh-to-flesh with the people who matter to you.
- Spend more time with the right people. As Marc said in 1,000 Little Things, “These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways. They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be, unconditionally.”
For the cynics out there who might say that the list of ideas above is too long to reduce overwhelm, there are really only two steps you need to start with:
- Identify what’s most important to you.
- Eliminate as much as you possibly can of everything else.
And once you get your mind wrapped around this, use the 25 tips above to support your efforts in applying this two-step process to various parts of your life.
What’s been making you feel overworked and overwhelmed lately? What changes do you need to make? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Author Bio: Tess Marshall M.A. is founder of The Bold Life and a personal development-industry entrepreneur.
Photo by: Esparist
Sandra Pawula says
Hi Tess, Marc, and Angel,
This is such a powerful exclamation: “Overwhelm doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion – a story we tell ourselves that offers us an excuse to get out of what we don’t want to do or don’t think we can do.”
I know it’s true that some people are more sensitive (like me :)) to overwhelm that others. But even more reason to follow your 25 well-reasoned tips!
This post is wonderful!! I need constant reminders not to get bogged down and overwhelmed with the seriousness of life. It’s about keeping things in perspective. We must get things done, but also learn to let go, and to not worry about everything every second. I especially like #5 “Make self-care a priority” At 49, next month I compete in my first every bodybuilding Figure Competition. Just competing is a win in the self-care department for me. Who knows what’s next, but it will be something good! Thanks for the inspiration.
Thank you for these simple, needed reminders. I used feel overwhelmed because I spent too much time wanting what others have, rather than focusing on improving my own life. Sadly, I know I’m not the only one either. I see people I love constantly comparing themselves to others too. But it’s important to remember that we are each unique and have our own unique life stories. We must appreciate these moments and not wish our own lives away by wanting someone else’s.
I struggled with this greatly before a friend gave me Marc and Angel’s “1,000 Little Things” book last year, which helped me out and led me to this amazing blog site. Thank you for helping me grow some more.
The nuggets of wisdom on this site are an inspiration to me always… I look forward to creating time to read your posts.
I like this statement: “Life is more than text messages and tweets. Sometimes the message is lost in the medium.” – It’s something I struggle with. I know digital overload overwhelms me sometimes. So thank you for that kick in the pants.
All the 25 points today are powerful, I will have to digest and live them.
You nailed another great post! Thanks!
Thank you for these. Each one is a very good reminder as we move further into the new year. Wishing you all the best.
I never leave a reply ever but now for the first time I really just have to say thank you so much! Today I was reminded just again that circumstances is only as bad as your perspective of it. I received my email link exactly the same time as I went to sit down, feeling overwhelmed, telling myself “I’m never going to get finished in time, can’t get all of this done” ready to just be miserable and ready to give up on today and obviously feeling bad about it. You guys really are unbelievably inspiring to so many readers of your site and has helped me and I believe a lot of others so much more than you know. I get the perfect motivational reads from here at times just needed most. I wonder sometimes how you get it right to put in to so many words such perfect explanations on so many subjects of life, feelings, emotions, questions and how to deal with them in a better way .. all so positive, just by changing ones perspective and attitude. Your site has helped me solve many puzzles and questions. Marc and Angel I truly believe you guys must be awesomely blessed. God bless You Guys even more.
Thank you for this information. These points make so much sense and they all tie together to help change my way of thinking. I’m grateful!
What a wonderful post to see first thing Monday morning. I was about to fall victim to overwhelm but will now take a deep breath, eat some real food and tackle the toughest thing first. Oh, and the “Do your best and forget the rest” quote goes up on my computer. Thank you!!
This article will be very helpful for myself and others I work with.
Thank you Marc and Angel (and Tess) for sharing.
David Rapp says
Oh, what a powerful trio you three are!! A great post, especially for those of us preparing for big changes in 2015.
Some quick thoughts:
Even God rested on the 7th day…hmmmmm
Read a great book that suggested making a list by walking around your house, apartment and office and of everything that bugs you. Overstuffed drawers, piles of paper, crappy chair, etc. Then take one day and fix as many as you can. For example, right after I write this down I am going to clean my workspace at the office. I did it this over Christmas and cleaned the Master Bath (even washed the walls), and my wife almost fell over. It may take several days to knock them out, but progress is a great motivator.
Know your internal clock and leverage it. I am not a great morning person, but if I get into the office before 7:45am I can be super productive until things start rolling around 9am. However, at 4pm I am about done for the day. I update my stuff, plan the next day, send out my last emails and return my last calls. Knowing my clock, I avoid 4pm or later calls, get home (usually) before heavy traffic, and I do not feel overwhelmed the next morning.
Break it down. I find that when I feel overwhelmed its because of a long list of small to medium sized “things,” not one massive one. And if I can break down the list into more manageable “chunks,” it gets less scary. If it is a massive, more than likely you can still break it down. Then go after it.
My husband forwarded your article to me. I will tag it to read it often. I need to start from square one. Some major changes happened in our lives and I have allowed them to overwhelm me. My husband had a major accident the end of 2013 and is still on crutches after 14 months, we sold our business of 40 years that month but stay invested for another 5 years. A son in & out of our lives and dabbling? with meth….just the major issues. Even with counseling, it sometimes “feels” overwhelming, yet your words are echoed and make sense, it is the doing that I must choose to undertake, one step at a time.
Thank you for article and one step closer to a healthy attitude. Being overwhelmed is not the way I want to live.
This post helped me 🙂
“All I do is work, I don’t have time for myself, family or friends” I tell myself this most days…I’m going to switch it for “I love to work and spend quality time with family and friends”. It is so true… “A story to get out of what we don’t want to do” and spending too much time comparing myself to others. Thanks just what I needed 🙂
I believe I’m going to slide into the big dirt nap with a “to do” list so why let myself get all worked up every time it’s not complete. I, of course, have to remind myself of this all the time. Sometimes I’m doing one thing and get excited and have new ideas and then I can swing into feeling overwhelmed. I’m working on stopping, breathing, getting back into the moment, and enjoying whatever I’m doing.
Tess The Bold Life says
Thanks to everyone for leaving such wonderful praise of my 25 tips. I’m soooo happy that I could help you see things differently.
These are major life events that you’re dealing with. Your husbands change, the sale of your business and you son on meth. I believe that extreme self care is needed here. Be gentle with yourself, let yourself off the hook. Even the best parents have children that take the wrong path. Let go of any guilt that you have about these events.
When you’re feeling low or that you can’t go on remember this too shall pass. It always has and always will. xo
Thank you. I needed this, I so needed this. Sitting here and feeling more than overwhelmed, over the edge, staring at the calendar and thinking that come March I might again have time to LIVE.
And yet I have all the power to do everything that must be done and still have time to be alive and feel relaxed. If I only just took the bull by its horns and dug in. My reaction to having several “must”-things on my to do list is to escape, shun and deny their presence. I sleep, I read, I make it go away. Except that it doesn’t, does it then…
No, all the while I run away and pretend the to do-list doesn’t exist my mind is occupied thinking about it, contemplating it, fixating on the anxiety and shittyness of the situation. And then I run even harder. Feeling even more shitty.
It is strange how one can sabotage things so profoundly, isn’t it? Instead of feeling overwhelmed and incapable of easy living for weeks and weeks on end one could just decide to do it, be occupied for a week and then it’s over. Done and dealt with. And be completely free those other weeks.
This is the main problem in my life, thank you for writing this list. It is filled with obvious stuff, but it’s very different to read it, really see it while reading, instead of just have a vague knowledge of how things should be done. Black and white and all that.
Here’s to a decluttered 2015!
This is a fabulous list! I used to have the I’m Overwhelmed syndrome constantly. It was horrible. Over a period of time, I picked up daily meditation and yoga at home. It was a very slow process, but gradually I came to realize that the whole being overwhelmed all the time thing was totally ridiculous and so not for me. I attribute my gradual transformation to my meditation practice, which allowed me the space to have insights into what I truly wanted to be doing. Our thoughts truly create our lives!
Thank you for this much needed food-for-thought.
Tess The Bold Life says
Thanks for sharing what’s going on. When you catch yourself obsessing and stressing…put yourself in the present moment and then take one small step. Repeat as needed. You’re worthy and you can do this!!
My take-aways from this article are:
1. Remove the word urgent from your life
2. Give due importance to your work
Michael Gregory II says
Great post once more! Lately, I have been feeling a little stressed from the amount of tasks that I’m forced to deal with. I try to take time to myself and yet find myself continuously thinking about what needs to be done. This is why I take my time management very seriously when it comes to pleasure and work.
But such as you mentioned above, I do need time to replenish my energy and give my mind a time to rest. An effective strategy that tends to help is either meditating or praying. Both set your mind into an internal peace that lets you feel your inner soul.
I think that you’re right that taming perfectionism is important. I think sometimes I try to do everything too perfectly and forget that I can make mistakes sometimes, and I forget to spend time remembering what I did right. I think it’s important to give yourself credit for all the little things you do, even if they’re not huge things that change your life drastically. Sometimes little baby steps are all we need.
Just to say thank you for this wonderful, inspirational post.
Captain Kirk says
I fully endorse number 24.
The reality of life in our 21st Century is:
We live in a DIGITAL and VIRTUAL world.
Considering the fact that we are traveling through the cyberspace “twilight zone”, the choices me make in life will affect our quality of life.
For example, the most enjoyable and effective method of communication is face to face. When we have a choice to Talk-Text-Tweet, the most satisfying experience is TALKING, in person or by phone.
The “human connection” is the most healthy, satisfying, and loving way to communicate, and we need to rewind the communication clock to truly connect…and nurture our relationships.
To improve or enhance your quality of life, I offer this healthy perspective:
Challenge yourself to ignore the distractions and meaningless, superficial noise )))))))))))))))))))))) and focus on your real, fulfilling PURPOSE in life!
‘Overwhelm doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion – a story we tell ourselves that offers us an excuse to get out of what we don’t want to do or don’t think we can do.’…found my problem in a nutshell!
Thanks for the reality check!