The End of Overwhelm – A Way to Results- Flow, Freedom and Authenticity
“Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself.” St. Francis de Sales. Many of us are impatient with getting things done to the point where we pile on things to our lists and get very little accomplished – but create enormous unnecessary stresses on ourselves, our bodies and to the people around us.
It isn’t overwhelm that stops us. It is how we relate or respond to our overwhelm that stops us from moving forward or having breakthroughs.
Some of us are going through horrendous events that make any kind of planning seem futile. Others go through a ‘slow burnout’ over time. Others are simply resigned (hopeless) or cynical (a ‘killing off’ of suggestions or possibilities).
But at the root of it all, we are simply put – human beings. The human part of us involves our biology – especially our brain functions. The being part of us involves creating a future – it is how we perceive the future that will drive us out of overwhelm – or keep us there. Both parts give us a way out of overwhelm.
1. End of Overwhelm – Leveraging Your Brain Power Realistically
There are at least 7 distinctions that we use in our coaching programs to powerfully move people forward through overwhelm. I will share one here.
1.1. Increased Power & Quality of Results with Fewer Things on your list
Every time you switch from one task to another, your blood glucose level drops. Glucose is important to your brain for two reasons – firstly it is used to create more neurotransmitters (brain wiring) and secondly it gives your brain energy to perform. We have known for a while that the brain cannot perform very well when you have too many things on your plate and you multi-task or switch tasks too frequently in your day from one thing to another.
Our own research with our clients have shown the same conclusions. Having fewer items per day, week or month results in less stress but far more results – quality and quantity. The magic number is four. We call this the Rule of Four – four max projects per day, week or month or year – that are the highest priority will help remove or reduce the overwhelm. The common objection to this rule is “Well. I still have to get ALL this done NOW.” When you dig deeper, what is typically driving people is unnecessary panic or guilt about getting things done or hard practiced habits that are not necessarily working for them. The question to ask is “Do you choose productivity aligned with your biology or working against your biology to insanity?
In our programs, we strive to get our clients to that sweet spot where your skill levels and challenge levels just match right so you stay out of anxiety and head towards flow.
2. End of Overwhelm – Creating an Enormously Juicy Future
The moods that comes along with overwhelm (where challenge levels are far too high for competence or skills) are typically fear, anxiety, frustration, resignation and/or cynicism.
To counteract these moods, we need to create a future goal or vision that is more juicy, compelling and holds your interest longer than the pull of these moods. The practice we use is to start with a very simple draft stage mission statement. With our clients, we work a little bit daily, weekly and monthly to ‘re-program’ the mind to internalize the mission statement and gradually over time have the mission statement dominate your work and life – in a way that is positive and healthy.
As St. Francis said in the opening quote of this article – we need to be patient with ourselves. The need to reduce overwhelm starts with patience. Patience is a practice cultivated by wise people. Knowing when to be patient and when to be urgent is a skill that can be internalized over time with practice and customized fine-tuning.