Now that the manuscript for The Confident Mother has been submitted, I have turned my attention to everything else.
At the beginning of last week “everything else” seemed absolutely overwhelming: the book launch party, The Confident Mother live!, speakers for the 2016 conference, planning The Confident Mother Business Mastermind, content for the website, sketching out plans for The Confidence Oasis, book cover design, entering Beachy Head marathon … and the list goes on.
Quite honestly I didn’t know where to start. I felt completely overwhelmed – a rabbit in the headlights.
Neuroscience tells us that we literally cannot think if we are feeling overwhelmed. The pre-frontal cortex can only cope with a certain amount of information. When you get to overload, it stops working. It’s that “rabbit in the headlights” feeling.
When you feel overwhelmed, you need to free up your brain so that it can start processing again. Here are my top tips:
Make a list
- Don’t try and remember everything that you need to do. Instead spend 15 minutes making a list of absolutely everything.
- When I say “15 minutes”, I mean “15 minutes”. Don’t spend all day on this. Time yourself and stay focused in those 15 minutes.
- When you have spent 15 minutes doing the “braindump”, spend just 5 minutes to prioritise which tasks you need to focus on first.
- Again time yourself – 5 minutes only. This is not a time to agonise. Focus on the most important tasks. Which ones are going to make the most difference.
- Rather than doing a numbered list, try a mindmap list instead.
- To prioritise a mindmap list, use a coloured pen to circle the most urgent or most important tasks.
Get a dopamine boost
- Dopamine boosts our drive. It improves our focus. It stimulates motivation in the brain. It increases our ability to concentrate. In short, dopamine in small bursts is good for you.
- Get a quick dopamine release by doing something fun for just 5 minutes. Put on loud dance music and dance wildly as if nobody is watching. Go for a brisk walk.
- What else could you do for a few minutes to ‘reward’ yourself before you sit back down to work?
- When you are feeling overwhelmed, sometimes it feels impossible to start anything because all the tasks seem too much.
- What if you only have 15 minutes …. well pick a task, one of the shorter tasks, perhaps it’s a less urgent task, and JUST DO IT.
- It’s one thing off your overwhelm list. It’s one item less for your brain to manage.
- If there are no shorter tasks, pick one and do what you can in 15 minutes.
- Use the pomodoro technique and focus exclusively for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. One of my favourite weapons against overwhelm is the TomatoTimer.
Just get started …
- When I was struggling with overwhelm last week, it was partly because there were so many connected tasks. For example the website content – in order to send the text to the web developer, I need to know the date for The Confident Mother live! In order to book the date, I need to visit the venue. To visit the venue, I need to researching possibilities. Research feels too time-consuming. Is it like this for you? Do you end up in a spiral?
- Many of us procrastinate when we feel overwhelmed … read this post for top tips on dealing with procrastination.
- Just get started. Do something from the list. It doesn’t matter where you start. Just start.
- If you are putting off getting started because you don’t have enough information … be honest, do you really need the information? Is this procrastination in disguise?
- If you DO need the information, then get it. Send emails, make phone calls, ask for help.
Ditch it or delegate it
- Review your task list and decide what needs to be ditched.
- If it has been waiting for your attention for a few weeks or months, chances are that you do not need to do it. It may be that you feel you ‘should’ do it … is that the same as ‘need’ to do it.
- Remind yourself of your core values. Does the task align with those core values? Will the task help you get closer?
- Check in with your vision and your goals. Is every task on your list going to take you closer to your vision and your goals? If not, ditch it. Be ruthless.
- Which of these ‘must do’ tasks could be done by somebody else? What can you delegate? Who can you ask for help? Where can you get support?
Share the overwhelm
- Sometimes it is helpful simply to ‘share’ the overwhelm you are feeling.
- Talk to a friend or trusted advisor.
- Offload your overwhelm feelings and this WILL make you feel more able to cope.
- Join a mastermind – one where you feel safe to share your challenges, get support, benefit from the wisdom and experience of others, and importantly celebrate your successes.
Get a business coach
- My final tip … I am a business coach after all, so I’m almost duty bound to include this one. Get yourself a business coach and talk it through with her.
- I work with three different coaches … and each brings incredible value to me and my business.
- Seriously, a good coach is worth her weight in gold.
One step at a time
- The single most empowering way to deal with overwhelm, is to focus on just one step at a time.
- You can do that. I know you can.
I have shared my top tips that help me and my business mum clients to deal with overwhelm. What about you? Don’t let the stress and overwhelm spoil the school holidays.
Request my free workbook & action sheet 7 smart ways for the business mum to cope with overwhelm and discover strategies that work.