5 Ways to Work Past the Overwhelm AKA Analysis Paralysis
Hilary Jastram Thursday, January 10, 2019
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What happens when you are too overwhelmed to move a step further? What happens when the thought of tackling your to-do list freezes you to the spot?
The past month, I signed on for a huge editing job to work with a writer and re-do her book. We would identify passages that she needed to write, existing content that called for a tad more meat and fold in resources and the usual spice of setting, dialogue, and internal chatter.
I was elated to close the deal and my confidence was solid, but I knew there was A TON of work awaiting both of us. Oh, and did I forget to mention we had a tight deadline, that the final draft was due in a month?
We did it. We killed it and my author is amazing, truly living in her passion.
But…it was a lot for both of us to handle. We had an incredible team, but everyone also had to be depended on to do their parts and perform on time.
It was enough to root me to the spot.
I tell you this to share that I get it.
One of my clients will hit a million smackers in his business this year. He has worked tirelessly for a decade. I am floored at his drive and think of him as a rolling wheel. He just keeps turning forward.
But he is human, as we all are.
He needs to rest as we all do.
We are all vulnerable to those periods when our life becomes a meme: “I heard you like to-do lists, so here’s a to-do list on top of a to-do list to add to your to-do list.”
With zero judgment, please read these mindset hacks to help you topple those to-dos. You can do this. Here’s how.
1. Start somewhere. Sometimes, we simply can’t make up our mind where we should dig in. When my kids were little and standing in their rooms full of toys and clothes and books and everything else little kids use to fire their imaginations, I would tell them they needed to straighten up. Then I would leave and come back after a bit to see that nothing had been done. For kids, especially, who have ADHD or challenges with organization, they need to know where to start.
When I learned this, I changed how I spoke to them. “Start with picking up your dirty clothes off the floor and put them in this basket.”
The result was about a million times better than before.
Pick a chore and work on it until it’s done. I usually like to take the next deadline on the list or tick a smaller item off that I can do in a flash—like sending an email response. There. One thing is done.
2. Rest don’t quit. Guess what? Crushers get tired. Everyone gets tired. Life is tiring. By our very design, humans are programmed to power down at the end of the day and accomplish cell healing through sleep. Sometimes we are sick. Sometimes we need rest outside of normal hours. Sometimes stress is exhausting, so is worry and a constant mental pacing over everything that seems important and immediate.
This is the best thing I have read this week: “Rest, don’t stop.” When you say these words to yourself, you also give yourself permission to not constantly be an emotionless generator. Self-care, one word, but two of the most vital syllables you can utter…and that you need to apply.
3. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. Let’s be realistic. Do you have to accomplish 17 items on your list? Maybe you need to do 10 and you know the other seven are coming up. So, those might get pushed to tomorrow. Sometimes, we make a list to keep obligations at the forefront and ensure they will not slip through the cracks of our memory. Learn the difference between short and long-term planning and forgive yourself for not being a programmable machine. You can only do what you can do. Realizing that you have very real limits does not make you weak. It makes you more dimensional, feeling, and better able to accomplish everything else on your list. Otherwise…can you spell burn out? I knew that you could.
4. Remember what I learned from my kid’s ADHD counselor. Give yourself little rewards. My husband is always trying to get me to read: How to Win Friends and Influence People. (Someday, honey). The concept is to break your list up into fun-size chunks. So, instead of plowing through like a wild tornado, you will do one thing and then reward yourself by doing something fun for 20 minutes. It is amazing how far this concept can push you. If I am undertaking a massive chore, and I complete it, then I can look forward to the reward. I might watch a half an hour of a murder drama on Investigation Discovery (shut up…lol), but your reward can be anything. Some days, I traipse out to the hammock and swing under the treetops until my mind is receptive again.
5. Your emotions about a task don’t matter. Focus on the action. My poor kids, forever my analogies. One of the best things I believe I ever told them had to do with how they approached doing chores. When they were younger and learning how to do the dishes and clean the bathroom, etc., they would tell me they hated it, and I would reply that it didn’t matter how they felt about it. The job needed to be done. So, they could bemoan the fact they would be pulled out of the play fray for ten minutes at the sink, or they could simply focus on the action and turn their emotions off. This works very well in many situations. If you have FOMO over Facebook for example, when you are working and sensing you are missing a connection, it doesn’t matter how you feel, because the right thing to do is to get the job done. We all have feelings, thoughts, and so on, but we are most in our power when we control our whims, or we leverage them to improve our lives. After the five mins are over and the countertops are sparkling, then you can ruminate on how much you hated wiping up toast crumbs…but guess what? There’s no point. The job is done…onto the next.
Our brains are marvelous miracles that we can program to accomplish anything we want. If we are stuck in a rut of how to think or feeling like the world is against us…we can stop that mental avalanche. I don’t tell you this to invalidate you, but to empower you. I have been there, buried, ungrateful, looking for the scapegoat and it wore on me. It eroded me. I decided I was done living life in that frame because it was painful.
If we can make mind shifts to such an enormous degree and infinitely activate positivity and abundance, then we can also remember to stop and rest, start somewhere, take one bite at a time, focus on the action and reward ourselves. Whew! After all that, I’m taking a fiver.
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