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Leadership Thought #280 – Tips/Tactics To Help You When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed

January 9, 2012

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We all get overwhelmed at times.  It is just part of life.  Sometimes there is just too much to do and not enough time to do it in.  Instead of stressing out when this happens, take a step back, breathe, and produce a plan of action.  Here are some tactics/ideas that have worked for me:

  • Develop and prioritize a daily “to-do” list and revisit it at the beginning and end of each day
  • Categorize activities based on their true urgency and fiscal impact
  • Break large assignments or action items into smaller discrete tasks
  • Ask yourself if any of your deadlines or responsibilities are self-imposed and if so, can they be reevaluated
  • Assess whether any of your tasks can be delegated
  • Ask for help
  • Be smart about the value of your time and if you can afford it, pay others to handle basic life tasks, e.g., laundry, yard work, house cleaning, cooking meals, etc.
  • Be upfront and honest with those you are working with about any needed changes to deadlines and let them know sooner rather than later – renegotiate timelines if possible
  • Be upfront and honest with the people at home about what’s going on and set their expectations appropriately
  • Focus on your more difficult action items during your most productive part of the day, e.g., morning people should use this to their advantage, etc.
  • If necessary, have any difficult conversations first thing in the morning so you don’t brood over them all day long and procrastinate
  • Schedule and take small 5–10-minute mental breaks throughout the course of the day
  • Consciously pay attention to your breathing and when especially stressed stop and take ten long and deep breaths
  • Always eat breakfast, take at least 30 minutes for lunch, and don’t eat dinner after 8 p.m.
  • Eat healthier than you normally do – diet matters
  • Avoid overdoing the caffeine, especially after 4 p.m.
  • Avoid overdoing the alcohol, especially after 8 p.m.
  • Try and stick to a regular bed and wake-up times – when stressed the body craves routine
  • Find time to exercise for at least 15-20 minutes per day and take small stretch breaks if sitting for more than 2 hours straight
  • Get outside for a few minutes or open a window to ensure you get some fresh air
  • If music is therapeutic for you, then use this to your advantage when working alone
  • Look for opportunities to laugh or smile
  • Pay attention to and try to minimize and redirect negative self-talk into something more positive
  • Start each day by counting your blessings – there are many
  • End your day with prayer, mediation, or personal reflection, whatever works for you to quiet your mind.