I’m sure there are more, but I place stress and overwhelm into three main categories:
ONE: Things left undone (too many things to do in a short amount of time);
TWO: You are constantly chasing the future and never stop to enjoy the moment (high achievers can easily fall into this category because they are never satisfied with what they have);
THREE: There is something negative going on in your life that you are yet to accept (i.e. you are rejecting your current reality for what it is).
Today, I will share a tool with you for #1 in this list – ‘things left undone’ (too many things to do in a short amount of time).
For many of you, Christmas is your busiest time of year.
Just the expectation of going into a busy period can create a lot of stress.
One year, coming into Christmas, a client I was coaching came into my office – he was feeling very stressed and overwhelmed.
He was at a breaking point.
He felt utterly overloaded, and this was significantly impacting his relationship and close to causing a divorce.
We used our coaching session to work through this simple but effective tool:
- Step 1: I asked him to write down everything that he had going on in his life
- Step 2: I asked him to estimate the time needed to complete the tasks he had written down and write this next to each one
- Step 3: I asked him to place a letter next to each item to show the priority
- A: Needed to be done this week
- B: Needed to be done in the next 2 weeks
- C: Could be done next month
- D: Could be done next quarter
- E: Could be done next year
- Step 4: We also went through every task together, and I asked him, “could you delegate this task to someone else to do?”
- Step 5: We then pulled out his calendar and scheduled all of the tasks.
By the end of the exercise, my client realised he had actually only had 20 hours of work to do in the current week, and only another 10 hours to do the week after. In other words, there was WAY less going on than he initially thought.
He had a HUGE sigh of relief and even laughed at how much he was overreacting to how much he had to do.
Here is what he learned:
The problem wasn’t the number of things he had to do (in reality). The problem was he was carrying it all in his head without any structure, and the EXPECTATION of what he needed to do was causing him angst.
The best thing to do when you are busy is to slow down.
It sounds so contradictory, right?
You think you need to do more and more, but it’s all about slowing down, writing it all out, and working out a plan to execute it. And if too many tasks fall on you, then you are just not leveraged enough (i.e. it’s most likely time to hire someone).
SLOW DOWN TO SPEED UP.
Whilst this might not eliminate your stress and overwhelm, it will reduce it dramatically.
And you might even find that you can really enjoy the busiest time of your year.