Something I have noticed with a lot of people recently is that everyone works very hard to make sure they live their day-to-day lives with the maximum amount of overwhelm possible. From the moment they wake up, to their “down” time in the evening, they work on staying overwhelmed throughout. I know what you must be thinking… Well, of course they do! I strive for that everyday myself!
Hold on, the bouncy thing on the right of my computer popped up. I just got an email. I need to check this…
Okay I’m back. Where were we. Oh yea, overwhelm is great! I always feel like I get so much done when I am overwhelmed. It’s such a great feeling at the end of the day knowing I was able to get to all those emails, pull all those reports, and hold all those really amazing meetings. I am probably not the best person to talk to throughout the day however I just don’t know what my value would be at my company if I didn’t do all of that, all day long. More emails, more reports, more meetings!!
Am I speaking your language? This sound familiar at all? Ready to become the overwhelm Kung Fu master you dream of becoming? To strike fear into those who see you in all your awesome glory? Get better at overwhelm! It’s simple, here are 5 easy steps.
1) Let’s look at your day. What’s the first thing you do when you get into work everyday? If you’re doing it right, you are going straight to your email in-box. The morning is when we are all the most mentally drained from a long days work right? So it’s a great time to crank out 100 emails that a slightly trained, monkey could do. The last thing you want to do is creative work, like planning for the day, week, month, and resetting what you work on each day to make sure it is the right kind of work.
2) What do you spend the most time on everyday? Is it meetings? Preparing for meetings? Recapping meetings? Perfect!! A good rule of thumb is to spend at least 2 hours either preparing for, or recapping a meeting, for every one hour spent in the meeting. Oh, and when you are in those meetings, make sure you don’t have any naysayers chiming in keeping everyone on track and to keep the meeting to an allotted time. They are such pooper of parties.
Hold on again, sorry about this.. my phone is blowing up..
3) Now your email. Do you use Outlook? Gmail? AOL? (wait, do people still use AOL?) Every email client has a notifications section. Go to settings, and turn on every notification possible. One of my favorite parts about having those on is what I get out of it during the day. Nothing makes me feel like I got more done than seeing my email notification go off every 5 min! I see that, stop what I am doing, check the email, respond to said email, and then get back to what I was doing. I get to do two things at once! I have a moto when it comes to I gauge a successful day or work or not. The amount of emails I get to in a day, is WAY more important that what’s in them.
Dangit.. one of my clients just emailed me. I get so stressed out every time I see their name on an email. I won’t be able to not look at that. This should be quick, brb.
4) Phones next? Yea, I think I was planning on talking about that next. I can’t do anything without my phone. I get a notification for everything so I can keep in touch with everything going on. That way I am always thinking about what everyone else is doing. Twitter, Facebook, email, and of course text and calls. They all flash, ring, and have that little notification icon on the top of the phone. It’s the first thing I check when I look at my phone. Which is about once every 5 minutes. It’s the best way to keep in the know really.
5) What number am I on now? 5? Crap, I can’t remember what the fifth one was. Let’s go with time. If you are like me, you plan for everyday the night before. Once you get home from a long day at work, it should then be all about prepping for the next day. That way, when you can’t go to sleep because you are focusing/stressing about work the next day, you will already be in work mode when you wake up!
Sarcasm aside – I hope you are starting to see how being overwhelmed has everything to do with you, and how you manage your daily intake of information. It’s all about perspective. Remove distractions. They are everywhere, so look closely.
Josef Shapiro, Co-Founder of Refound.com says “Most people don’t realize they’re chronically overwhelmed. If your email makes a sound, you can’t work for an hour without interruption, or experience anxiety without your phone nearby, you’re overwhelmed. You literally may not be able to imagine it being any other way, but it can be.”
He touches on a major component of overwhelm – external stimulus.
Turn off ALL notifications. Turn them off on your computer, your phone, everything. YOU decide when you want to check email. Not the other way around. We all like to think that we are multi-tasking badasses. But in reality doing two, three, or six things at once sucks. All of them will only get a portion of your brain power, therefore, they will all be sub par work. It’s not about HOW much work you get done, it’s about doing the RIGHT kind of work well.
I challenge you to turn off all your notifications for just one day. Turn off the email and chat notifications on your computer. Create set times when you will check email Turn them off on your phone, even the little icons at the top. Clear them all, only ones left should be texts and calls. The rest is doing the work that matters. Take a look at what you got done at the end of the day and ask yourself how stressed and overwhelmed you are. Works right? Rinse – dry – repeat.
Lastly, look at what you are getting out of being overwhelmed. What, you ask?! Yes, you are getting something out of being overwhelmed. It’s not external influences making you feel overwhelmed, you are doing it to yourself. It could be that you are busy all the time and you find value in running ragged with your hair on fire. Maybe you can admit you like that a little bit? Dig deep, it might surprise you. It could be that you always want to be in the “know”. You might be feeling disconnected or left out, and being overwhelmed justifies it. Or maybe it’s all you have ever done, and don’t know of another way. Whatever it is, take a close look at the reasons, as you will likely find out a lot about yourself and how you are creating your feelings of overwhelm. It may be surprising.
Make those changes from the inside out and you will become an unruffled Zen master who is at peace, even when everyone else is running around crazy like someone let out a swarm of bees!
Hahaha, my buddy just sent me a video of a guy crashing on a snowboard. This is hilarious!
I hope this was helpful, I know when I am building a presentation I use as much copy as I can. Wait, this is the post on how to create a good presentation right?