Isn’t it strange how everything lands on us at once? Deadlines, personal challenges, relationship problems, and life issues: all take their toll on us. Are you feeling the pressure?
When it all gets too much, this is what I advise my clients to do.
Write it down.
The act of writing things down takes a load off your mind – literally. Science has shown that writing a to-do list can help you sleep better by easing the mind. Even better, it showed that writing a simple plan or action list stops the brain from obsessing about the things you haven’t done and frees the mind to think of other things.
Have you tried journaling? It is a wonderful way to help you clarify your thoughts and learn more about yourself and your reactions. Not only does this help put things into perspective, but it also helps reduce the impact of overwhelm on you physically and mentally.
Sometimes when I suggest writing things down or keeping a journal, people think it’s a bit “fluffy” but the benefits are powerful. Give it a try. It’s amazing how things suddenly seem to be more manageable when you write them down.
Stop trying to do it all.
There are things that matter and things that matter less. Make sure you’re focusing on what matters most. Have you tried the Eisenhower Matrix? It works with all aspects of life by helping you prioritise what to do. You have a finite number of hours in the day and the matrix “helps you decide on and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance, sorting out less urgent and important tasks which you should either delegate or not do at all.”
Another piece of advice I offer is to choose three things to work on each day and no more. This reduces the feeling of overwhelm and helps you focus enough to get the important work done.
Remember – nobody is productive all the time and getting the job done is better than doing it perfectly.
No, it’s not impossible to do. Just hear me out.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, your brain needs a break and so do your energy levels. The best way to interrupt the madness is to step away from it. That means getting out from behind the keyboard and preferably into the fresh air. We know daylight can recharge your batteries but the act of walking boosts your physical energy and increases your creativity. That’s just what you need for coping with all the decisions you need to make at work.
Other ways to take a break include having coffee or lunch with teammates. You get some food into you which brings energy, but the conversation is a great way to debrief and clear your head. (It’s excellent for relationship building, too.) If you happen to be the team leader, lunching with your co-workers builds trust as they get to know the ‘real’ you. It’s also known to improve team productivity which is what you need right now. If you’re working remotely, you can have a virtual lunch or coffee break with a team member. There are a whole lot of benefits that spring from a simple lunch break!
Finally, I want to remind you to talk it out. If things at work are getting you down, talk to your manager and ask for help. If you can see a team member struggling, talk it out. Talking helps erase some of the pressure and it often reveals solutions you hadn’t thought of. At the very least, it makes someone aware of how you feel and brings you help.