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Escape the Overwhelm

In our coalition, partnership and relationship work, there are ALWAYS more things to do and people to connect with than we have time to do them. And when we add this to a busy home and personal life, we can easily stay in a place of overwhelm. Is there ever a time when you don’t feel busy?  Do you feel like you are running from one meeting (zoom) to the next and never really have time to DO any of the work you would like to do? Are you weary and wondering if it is possible for you to reclaim some of your time and energy? If you are answering yes to any – and all – of these questions, then take time to read today’s post and check out my Masterclass from last year, Escape the Overwhelm.

As someone who has struggled with this most of my life, I get it. You want to take care of the people you are serving, make a real difference in the world and be someone who gets things done.  While these are all important, we only have a limited amount of time – and more importantly – energy. And we also want to spend time and energy in other areas of life that are also extremely important that often get left with the “extra” – our family, friends and ourselves. Check out the seven actions below that you can implement – and re-implement to once again escape the overwhelm.


Although it’s easy to think we need to immediately answer “yes” or “no,” one of the best ways to escape the overwhelm is to pause before making a decision. When we pause, it gives us a chance to review our other commitments and remember our priorities. Also, when you pause, you can think about whether you are doing this because it is your right next step or because you are trying to please others. As a recovering people-pleaser, the pause is extremely helpful for me! 🙂 Also, one of my favorite new podcasts is Emily P. Freeman’s, The Next Right Thing. She actually just put together an episode on The Next Right Thing for People Pleasers!

Prioritize “desire zone” activities

Find ways to spend most of your time doing things you enjoy doing and are really good at doing. Michael Hyatt and Megan Hyatt Miller call this the “desire zone.” If you are not sure what those are, then pause (#1) and take time to reflect and write down the things that fit in this category. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean that you should be the one to do it. Many times, we miss out on our “desire zone” because we keep spending time doing things that we “can do” rather than the things that we both enjoy and are good at doing. Over the next few weeks spend time reflecting on each day (maybe 5-10 minutes) on the things that you enjoy and bring you energy. These are likely part of your “desire zone” and everyone benefits when you spend more time on them! 

Create an ideal week

Creating an ideal week is one of the most proactive things you can do with your time. Rather than remaining reactive to everyone else’s schedule, determine the days and times you will have “meetings” and others that you block to work on those things that require focus and creativity.  One of the most important practices for the ideal week is to protect your time. If you have scheduled time for yourself to work on a project, writing or reflection, honor that as a meeting and don’t double-book yourself. 🙂

Delegate well

When you get really clear on your “desire zone” activities, you are able to see the types of things that would be best for others to do. One of the best places to start are those things you do really well but to not enjoy doing. Since you are good at doing them, you could likely train and coach someone else to do them. Then, you will create time for you to do more of those things that you both enjoy doing and are good at doing. 

Practice “no”

When you say “yes”, you are automatically saying “no” to someone or something else. Consider who you really want to say “yes” to, why you want to say “yes” to them and let that help you with practicing your “no” to others. If you need help doing this in some areas, create structures that help you. For instance, I found myself easily getting distracted by Facebook and looking at my phone in the evenings. In order to help me say “yes” to family time and “no” to Facebook, I removed it from my phone, turned off notifications for almost everything, and am practicing saying “no” to my phone. 

Create rituals

Rituals are habits and practices that help you transition from one area of life to another. Rituals also help you create boundaries with your time and prevent you from getting “stuck” in email all day! One of the first times I really thought about rituals was when I first started using the Full Focus Planner (which I highly recommend!!). One of the rituals I particularly focused on recently was my “workday shutdown” ritual. Basically, this is how I spend the last 30 minutes of my day. If I spend time actually reflecting on the day and preparing for the next day, rather than trying to check a few more items off my to-do list, I am ready to enter the next phase of my evening and am ready to go for the next day.

Show self compassion

Practice being kind to yourself. When you get overwhelmed again, recognize it, give yourself grace and try again. Self compassion is a concept emphasized in Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection and Dr. Kristin Neff reminds us that with self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend. What do you need to do to practice being a good friend to yourself?

As you look at this list, is there one that stands out to you? Which one would you like to reflect upon and try implementing first?

For additional guidance, check out the recording of my Masterclass, Escape the Overwhelm.

Photo by NoWah Bartscher on Unsplash

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