â€œThereâ€™s nothing wrong with my life. In fact, things are going really wellâ€¦so well that some days when I sit down at my desk to work I have no idea where to begin. I end up wasting time distracted by too many thoughts.â€ Is this a familiar feeling for you?
I know I had some thoughts on this topicâ€¦but I noticed my computer doing something weird so I stopped to fix it then thought Iâ€™d better check my email because something may have popped in during the last three minutes which led to flipping over to the Facebook tab because itâ€™s open â€“ where I tossed up a comment then reminded myself I have outlines for five workshops that need completing plus a bunch of organizational must doâ€™s and I havenâ€™t gotten to any memoir writing this weekâ€¦PHEW! Feeling overwhelmed and allowing oneself to be distracted can be pretty common.
When my brain starts to whir like this I feel like Iâ€™m spinning. Iâ€™ve created 7 Tips â€˜n Tools to shift from overwhelm to re-focused productivity:
1. Acknowledge what is going on for you. Simply stop everything and sit for a moment in the overwhelming feeling. Notice how it feels in your body, in your head and notice how it is not serving you in any way. Take a couple of deep breaths and reconnect with yourself.
2. Identify short, medium and long term goals in the area where you are overwhelmed.
3. Get clear on the end goals. What is it you wish to achieve? What is the outcome you want all your actions to contribute to creating? When you are clear on the end goal you can stop yourself when you feel you arenâ€™t on target and ask what outcome is this particular action supporting.
4. Create a go to document. Find an organizational system that works for you. I found myself jotting notes in a notebook, making short lists on my phone calendar, scribbling on post its and ending up with my to dos in too many places. Figure out one tool and discipline yourself to put everything there. Personally, I am using Google Documents project management schedule. I need my list to be portable and I hate rewriting from one notebook to another. Some people use whiteboards with colored markers, others use recipe cards or colored post its on large wall calendars or leather bound dayrunners with pre-printed graph charted project sheets.
5. Identify your top ten must do actions each week and identify them as top priority in your go to document, then highlight the top three. Do not even think about actions four through seven until you have completed the three highlighted tasks.
6. Create an awareness journal to track a list of what distractions you use when you get overwhelmed. I feel distractions, for me, are like a mental grasping at straws. But the random nature of this will not get me back to a place of focus.
7. Experiment for a week. Each time you feel overwhelmed do the check in I outlined in Point #1. Then open up your go to document, check your top ten priorities and select the actions that will support the completion of those goals. If nothing youâ€™ve tried so far is working, interview some of the people in your life you know juggle and multi-task to find out what works for them.
These simple actions can create the shift from feeling overwhelmed to getting back in alignment with what it is you wish to achieve.
Tambre Leighn, M.A., Ct.H., CPC, ELI-MP is a certified professional life coach specializing in guiding clients through periods of major transition (career change, divorce, chronic illness diagnosis) and grief recovery. She also works with those facing mid-life challenges to uncover their own brilliance so they may lead the extraordinary lives they were meant to have through her coaching practice.