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7 Steps To Prevent Yourself From Feeling Overwhelmed
Do you often feel as if there are a hundred things you need to get done on any given day? Yet, when the day is over, you usually don’t get nearly as much done as you would have liked?
Feeling overwhelmed is something that we all struggle with from time to time. In a demanding world, you feel as if there are so many things to do and not nearly enough time to do them. Fortunately, there is something that can be done about this. I’ve developed a system, with help from the book Million Dollar Habits, that has helped me eliminate 99% of my feelings of being overwhelmed.
By doing so, not only has this allowed me to eliminate unneeded stress, it’s also allowed me to get many more things done. Instead of doing only half of the things I need to get done, I’m getting 80, 90, or even 100% of the things that I set out to do.
Read this seven step routine and try following it the next time you have a full day of things to do. It will make all of the difference in the world. And your feelings of being overwhelmed will cease to exist…
Step 1: Step Back And Put Things In Perspective
The first thing you need to do when you have strong feelings of being overwhelmed is to stop what you are doing.
You need to clear your mind. Because if you continue to work with this overwhelmed feeling, you are never going to get anything done anyways. So allow yourself some time to sit back and reflect on the situation at hand.
Think about how important the tasks ahead really are. What are the consequences of not getting these things done? Allow yourself to think about these tasks and put them in proper perspective.
Is it really the end of the world if you don’t finish everything? My guess is, probably not. There are probably far worse things that could be happening to you. Whenever I feel really overwhelmed, I think about the book Night, a man’s story about his experience with the Holocaust. When I think about his story and putting things into this kind of perspective, I realize that my current problems come nowhere close in comparison to what he and so many others faced.
Get things into the right perspective. Then move onto Step 2.
Step 2: Eliminate The Things That Don’t Matter
After completing Step 1, you’ve probably realized that things aren’t as bad as they seem. You also probably have a greater understanding of what your higher priorities are for the day. Ask yourself this, “What things on my to-do list do I absolutely have to get done today?” Then ask, “What things really aren’t that important?”
Separate these things into two piles. The really important things are, of course, the things you should do first. And the things that really aren’t that important? Consider them a bonus if you get them done today. In order to eliminate overwhelmed feelings, you need to only focus on the tasks that really matter.
Don’t worry about the unimportant stuff right now. Those things can wait. Instead, prioritize your most important tasks.
What is the most important thing you need to get done? Whatever it is, it belongs at the top of you list. It should be the first thing you start working on. Don’t drift over to the unimportant stuff because you think it will be easier to do! This will only add to your overwhelmed feelings because you will realize that the important stuff still lies ahead.
This is extremely important!
Work on the tough, important stuff first. Don’t settle for anything less. It will work out best in the long run as you will see.
Step 3: Don’t Do Everything, Just Do Something
A funny thing usually happens when we feel really overwhelmed. We have so many things to do. Yet, what usually happens is we do nothing.
Somehow, all of our reasons to take action leads to no action whatsoever.
One of my favorite sayings is, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” And it’s so true.
You can’t get yourself thinking too far into the future. What you need to do is just get started. What does your most important task first require you to do? My guess is it’s probably something simple. Perhaps you need to go grab some paper and a pencil. Or, maybe your first task requires you to grab your computer and open up your word document. Whatever it is, go do it right that instant.
Nothing else matters until you take that first action step. It’s probably a small and simple step. So go ahead and do it immediately.
Step 4: Give 100% Focus To What You Are Doing
You may have a hundred things you need to get done, but understand that none of that matters right now. All that matters is your first task. It’s where 100% of your focus should be.
After all, why would anything else matter until you have your highest priority finished? The truth is, it doesn’t! You have to get your first task done. It’s imperative that you get it done. The more that you focus on your current task, the faster you will get it done. And the faster you get it done, the quicker you will be able to work on the next project.
This cycle will repeat over and over again. But don’t think about that right now. The more you look into what needs to be done later, the more you are going to feel overwhelmed. So give your current project everything you’ve got.
Understand that by doing so, everything else will take care of itself. And you will be done with all of your tasks before you know it.
Step 5: Work At A Comfortable Pace
We humans greatly underestimate how much we can get done. That’s right, I said underestimate.
When you focus 100% of your attention on what you are doing, time has an amazing way of slowing down for you. When it slows down, the amount you can get done in an hour, even a half hour, is far more than you might expect.
So many times I have started on something that I thought would take me at least a couple of hours to do. Then, when I got really focused and really into the project, I had the entire thing finished in 45 minutes to an hour. This type of thing happens to people all of the time. It will happen to you often as well. You just have to learn to work at a comfortable pace.
When you try to rush through everything, your feelings of being overwhelmed go right back up. Then you have to go back and start at Step 1. Instead, work at a pace your are comfortable with…
By doing so, this will allow you to work much longer without fatigue. You will learn to work your mental muscles to the point where you can work at a comfortable pace all day long. If you get to the point where you can go slow and steady all day, you will get more done in a day then most people get done in a week!
Remember, it’s the tortoise, not the hare, that wins the race!
Step 6: Finish The Task To Completion
Another silly things that we humans often do is never completely finish tasks. Instead, we stop moments away from the finish line.
For example, let’s say that we have a paper we need to write. We typically will write the paper. But instead of going on and proofreading it, we put that off until later. Or, if we do go ahead and proofread it, we will put off printing it. You need to learn to get it entirely done. Printed, stapled, and put into a folder.
We all have this natural tendency to do 95% of the work. But for some reason we always put of that last 5% until later. It hasn’t quite been figured out yet why we do this. I think it has something to do with fear. Fear that we didn’t do a good job. Fear that we could have done better. Fear that what we did wasn’t good enough. The quicker you get over your fears, the quicker you will get at completely finishing tasks. And…
In order to eliminate your feelings of being overwhelmed, and to get all of your tasks done, you need to learn to become a finisher.
A finisher works on a project until it is completely finished. Until the paper is in the folder and ready to be handed in. Here’s why becoming a finisher is so important…
When you get a task completely finished, your body naturally releases energy and good feelings associated with accomplishment. The bigger the task, the better you feel. However, the same thing doesn’t happen when you are almost done. Instead, when you are 95% done nothing at all happens. It’s only when you are 100% done when you start to feel the great feelings of accomplishment.
You can use this energy to carry you on to the next project. You will have confidence knowing that you have what it takes to get everything done. You will start to have what I like to call the “finisher’s mentality.”
This energy that comes with have a “finisher’s mentality ” will get you through the day and will give you what you need to get all of your tasks done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Step 7: Reward Yourself, Then Start The Next Project
After you have finished a task, you need to reward yourself. It’s very important that you get in the habit of rewarding yourself.
The reward can be something simple, such as taking a five minute walk to ease your mind. Or, if it’s a bigger project, you can give yourself a bigger reward. Perhaps taking your family out to dinner, or going on a weekend getaway if the project was really big. Here’s why it’s important to reward yourself…
When you don’t get any reward after completing a task, your body and mind start to wonder if all of this hard work was really worth it. It questions whether or not it wants to exert itself for the next task.
By rewarding yourself, you get to fully experience the good feelings of completing a task. So allow some time to soak it in and feel proud of yourself.
You had a project that you needed to get done. You stepped up, became a finisher, and got the job done. Now, you really should take the time to feel proud of yourself. You should reward yourself for your troubles. Your body and mind will have no trouble exerting itself next time when it knows there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Once you reward yourself, get started on your next task immediately!
You need to ride these good feelings into the next project. If you wait, these good feelings will quickly go away and you will be starting from scratch all over again.
So, “strike the iron while it’s hot,” as they say. When you quickly get started on the next task, you will realize that you get it done much faster than you thought you would. A momentum starts to build for you that you never thought would ever happen. You then start to get quicker and quicker at checking off those things on your to-do list.
Your feeling of being overwhelmed will quickly disappear. And you will be well on your way to the best reward…
The good feeling that you get when everything you set out to do for the day is finished. And you can take the rest of the night off to relax!
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