Overcoming Overwhelm: 5 Secrets to Peaceful Productivity
by Christine Kane
Overwhelm is one of the toughest things my clients face.
No surprise, of course.
The people I work with – whether they’re in my Platinum Mastermind, or my Uplevel Your Business Program, or at one of my retreats – tend to have one thing in common:
They’re creative types with lots of great ideas and a deep desire to be of service in the world. (If you’re reading this, you’re probably that kind of person, too.)
Creative types are often challenged by the practical day-to-day stuff of life. To-do’s, organization, finances, getting things done. NONE of this comes easy! Overwhelm becomes a way of life.
Only problem is this:
Overwhelm leaves you emotionally drained, constantly feeling like you’ll never quite catch up.
As a creative person, you might have to accept that you’ll be overwhelmed on a regular basis, but you can also take a few practical steps to overcome overwhelm. Here are five secrets I’ve learned along the way that have helped me get back on purpose in my daily life.
1 – Get out of the weeds
If you’ve ever waitressed, then you know what it means to be “in the weeds.” So much is happening so fast that you can’t even pause to regroup.
Many of us live our whole lives like this! We wake up and just start reacting.
If this is you, then it’s time to get out of the weeds and into the habit of something I call Self-Summits.
A Self-Summit is a weekly 30-minute practice – Sunday’s are perfect! – during which you connect with your intentions, remind yourself of your goals, and get clear on your priorities. You look at the week ahead and:
- List your top three priorities (not your 57 to-do’s!) for the week.
- Get clear on upcoming appointments.
- Schedule your work-out time, your writing time, your downtime, etc.
This one practice does wonders for keeping you on track. Even if your week doesn’t work out exactly as planned, this is better than not having any plan at all!
2 – Project vs. Task
Is this your to-do list? –>
“Re-paint house. Create website. Write book. Eat healthy.”
If so, then it’s time to discern between a project and a task. A project is something big…like a website. It looms like a monolith on your to-do list, with its own foreboding theme song that plays every time you glance at it.
A task, on the other hand, is something you can actually complete. Like, “Write bio.” Or “Call Photographer.”
Learn to break down your projects into tasks during your Self-Summits, and you’ll reduce your overwhelm by at least 75%!
3 – Experience Completion
I often make my clients set their weekly goals so small that they laugh at me. I do this because most of the creatives I work with have never allowed themselves the bold luxury of simply experiencing completion.
When you experience completion, then you can maintain your motivation. When you are always running to keep up with your 73-item to-do list, then you are prone to overwhelm and burn out. Make your goals and your to-do list small so that you can revel in getting complete!
Think of completion as an essential vitamin that makes you immune to overwhelm!
4 – Set the Timer
This will sound so simple and stupid that you’ll think, “Yea, yea yea. Got it. A timer. Duh.”
But hear me out!
Let’s say you’ve scheduled 2 hours to write Chapter 4 of your book. Set the timer for 55 minutes, and write. Don’t go one minute over or under. Take a five-minute break. Then set your timer for another 55 minutes.
When the clock is running, you won’t be as tempted to go downstairs to put the clothes in the dryer, or see if the mail has arrived. It’s an effective mind game that keeps your butt in the chair and your focus on the task. Even my most skeptical clients have become believers in the timer.
5 – Eliminate All-Or-Nothing Thinking
Many creatives see only two options:
Either be fun-loving, chaotic, creative and spontaneous…
Be a totally boring robot who never experiences love or joy.
This is called All-or-Nothing Thinking. It is also a “Limiting Belief.” It is downright untrue and even destructive, and it will keep you playing catch-up forever!
The trick to overcoming overwhelm is to play with these new habits. Tweak them so they work for YOU. Many people use all-or-nothing thinking as an excuse for not even trying. They give up on themselves way too quickly.
Don’t expect to be perfect when you first start digging out of overwhelm. But DO expect yourself to keep practicing these habits.
Christine Kane is the Mentor to Women Who are Changing the World. She helps women uplevel their lives, their businesses and their success. Her weekly LiveCreative eZine goes out to over 20,000 subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at http://christinekane.com.
WANT TO SEE HUNDREDS MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS ONE?
See Christine’s blog at ChristineKane.com/blog.