I'm sorry to report that my post holiday relaxed vibe has worn off. I'm feeling well and truly overwhelmed this week, and from a couple of conversations with clients and friends, I'm definitely not the only one.
One of the exercises I get my new clients to do is to score the different areas of their lives out of 10 - friends, family, relationships, money, health, personal development, creativity, that sort of thing. I always know I'm feeling overwhelmed when more than 2 or 3 of these things in my life feels like it's hitting a low score. At the moment, I feel as though I'm neglecting my friends and family as I'm working ridiculous hours to keep the business growing and support as many women as possible. And my creativity is definitely at a low ebb too as I am struggling for head space outside of all the day to day management.
July and August are difficult months from the point of view of how we feel about work. They're months of closing things down. Working in specific chunks of time before holidays, yours or other people's, or before the schools break up. This sort of mood tends to bleed into our own thinking whether we're constricted by holiday dates or not. There's a general feeling of waiting until everything gets going again in September. The sense of urgency that working in specific chunks of time can, at times, be hugely helpful, but there's something about this time of year specifically that just doesn't have that vibe.
It's almost as though, in August we're expected to slow down along with everyone else, and relax into the general mood of things. For me, it's just making me feel busy! So, I thought it might be helpful I would share a couple of pointers on what to do when you feel busy and you know it's draining your ability to dig yourself out...
Three things to help you feel less busy and overwhelmed...
I don't know about you but when I feel busy and overwhelmed I become far less productive. It's a cruel paradox as it's exactly the time when we need to be most productive! But having a couple of tricks up your sleeve to get you unstuck and working away again can really help. So here's my top three tips.
Work out what's making you feel most busy
I quite often find that when I feel most busy it's actually not the volume of things on my list that's creating that feeling. It's usually because there's one thing on the list that's making me FEEL busy. Once I tackle this, all the other things seem far more manageable than they did before. Sometimes I'm better at identifying that thing than others. And sometimes, I don't realise what that thing was until I make a start on it and then start to feel the overwhelm lift as I realise it wasn't as onerous as I'd imagined. So, my advice to you... look down your to do list and see if you can identify anything on there that provokes that familiar feeling of anxiety in your stomach. That's the thing that's making you feel most busy. It might be because you don't know how to do it, it might be because you know it's going to take up a lot of your time... either way, it's the thing you need to get started on as soon as possible. Get help if you need to, break it down if it seems too hard.
Work out what emotions/thoughts are draining your energy
I talk to a lot of my clients about something called the emotional bank account. If you imagine you have an emotional bank balance in your brain. There will be things that credit it, and things that debit it. The emotions associated with overwhelm can drain that balance hugely, and leave you with low energy at the exact time you need it most. For me, the emotions that drain mine most are impatience, indecision and uncertainty. I have to manage my impatience by just getting on and doing things, as I know I can waste a lot of energy that I need to put into doing things feeling impatient that they're not done yet! Silly when you look at it like that isn't it!! I have to force myself to do the things that 'credit' me too like walking, reading and spending time with my son.
Manage your diary
Similar to the point above, but diary management and the associated time management can be a huge drain if you let it. I have a tendency to try to fit too much in and be overoptimistic about my capacity to be 'on' for the whole day. Make sure you review your diary with enough time to move things around if needs be. Plan your travel time. Prepare for meetings ahead of time. Turning up late, unprepared and flustered can be an enormous drain on your energy, not to mention your credibility.
Overall, the worst thing you can do when you're feeling overwhelmed is do nothing. So make sure you put the above three things into action and get cracking on. Creating momentum is the best thing you can do to get you moving towards your goals again.
Get in touch... Let me know what's stressing you out this summer - firstname.lastname@example.org
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