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Overwhelm and a simple strategy to help manage it

It seems that many of us are experiencing overwhelm right now; a relentlessly wet winter, too many conflicting calls on our time, both at home and at the office, with the Easter break ahead and two days off work a welcome relief.

Overwhelm can reduce our effectiveness in many spheres of life, not just in the office, and once we are ‘down in the weeds’ of overwhelm it can seem almost impossible to find room to breathe or see more clearly.

But we know that physiologically we are hard-wired to see threat rather than opportunity, so what would it take to change our perspective and find a way out of the pressure of the unfinished workload and the associated stress of not being able to deliver on our commitments? We're all familiar with the concept, yet understanding isn't synonymous with action.

It's essential to challenge yourself: are you genuinely attempting to retain everything in your mind, or have you carved out space by pinpointing what truly matters and dedicating your attention to that as your primary focus or priority? This shift in mindset can be a powerful technique in managing overwhelm.

The key is to reflect on those items to which you can add value – be it a decision, a project, a conversation, or a meeting.

One method of doing this is to create a matrix to help make your priorities those activities that require your input, so DO those important tasks now, DECIDE to schedule a time for those which are important, but not a key priority, and DELEGATE or DELETE anything neither important nor a priority*.

This simple approach should help the process of getting commitments out of your head and release you from some of your own expectations of yourself and those of other people. Increased focus by keeping your priorities up to date will help you reduce overwhelm, become a better delegator, make more impact, and might even give you time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Spring for yourself, seeing nature hard at work instead.

*Eisenhower matrix, used by Stephen Covey in his book ‘Seven habits of highly effective people’


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