Thursday, 27 March 2008

Are You Overwhelmed, Overworked, Overloaded and Just Plain STRESSED OUT?

Well are you overwhelmed, overworked, overloaded and just plain STRESSED OUT? If you're not, congratulations! You're probably in the minority of those who have learnt how to manage stress. And, if you're not suffering from the effects of seemingly having too much to do in too little time then I'm sure you know of someone, perhaps someone very close to you, who falls into this category.

Earlier this week I mentioned that Tim Ferris was coming to London to launch his "The 4-Hour Workweek". Whenever, I think of this book I'm reminded of another - "Crazy Busy" by Dr Edward Hallowell - what a great title! The rest of this book's title is "Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD".

The problem is that our feelings of being overwhelmed, overworked and overloaded are actually compromising our effectiveness, productivity and efficiency. We get things done but at a cost to both the quality and quantity of work we produce and at a cost to our physical, mental and emotional health.

So here are some tips for dealing with being overloaded, overworked and overwhelmed.

3 Tips for Coping with Information Overload

1. Set Goals
Without goals we drift aimlessly through life. It is important to have clear goals. Your goals act as a filter. Anything, that is not relevant to your goals you can simply ignore.

This also means though, that the goals you set must be holistic, balanced and in harmony with each other. They must encompass every area of your life, so for example you don't build a business and sacrifice your health. Set your goals so that they become synergistic - working on one goal will help to support another.

2. Eliminate
Cut the clutter. Make it a habit to get rid of things that no longer serve a useful purpose in your life. Aim to keep at least a section of your work space or desk clear at all times. If your work space is cluttered it will inhibit your thinking and productivity.

Don't let newspapers, magazines, letters, etc. accumulate. If you subscribe to magazine decide up to which year or issue you're going to keep and recycle the rest. Information is often repeated in more recent publications. Plus, the more recent publications will contain the most-up-date information.

3. Turn it Off!
Learn how to switch off to become more switched on. Get comfortable with switching off your email, turning off your Blackberry, mobile phone, etc. for hours at a time.

You don't need to be a constant conduit for information. Periodically closing your personal information highway will free more of your time for focused work and play as well as provide the time for the restoration of your mind and body.

3 Tips for Coping with Feeling Overworked

1. Learn How to Say "No"
Entrepreneurs get ahead in business and life by practicing the art of saying yes. In other words, sometimes an opportunity may come your way and you may not have a clue as to how to go about it but you say yes anyway because you relish the challenge. You know that while it will stretch you it will also move you closer to your goals.

However, there are many things that you do on a day-to-day basis that perhaps you don't need to do because you are not the best person for the job. Find that person and delegate that particular task to them. However, don't say yes to other people's requests when you know that it's not in your best interest, simply because you can't pluck up the courage to say no.

2. Plan
Plan your day-to-day activities and also spend time planning the various projects that you are involved with. Plans are not rigidly set in stone. They need to be flexible because when you set about planning you want to predict where any problems might arise.

Then you make contingency plans for each of these problems. In this way, if something does go wrong, you will be prepared and can smoothly make the transition to an alternative plan. And, even if something unforeseen arises, the chances are that you will still be better prepared and better able to cope.

3. Focus
Decide what is really urgent and important and focus on these tasks first and foremost. Clear dedicated blocks of time to focus on just one task at a time. Where possible, aim to complete that task in the allotted time.

If something relates to a bigger project then break that project down into discrete, bite-sized chunks that can be completed within short timescales. In this way, whenever you work on that project you will make considerable forward momentum.

3 Tips for Coping with Feeling Overwhelmed

1. Exercise
Do some exercise, even if you just do some basic stretches at your desk. However, if possible, get out of your office to exercise. You don't have to go to the gym. Why not go exercise in the park or by the beach?

Go for a brisk walk. Aim to have you arms free so that you can move them in forward and back as you stride. This will help to integrate right and left brain activity.

2. Change
Change your task. Do something that is less taxing for a few minutes or simply change the nature of the activity you were doing. For example, if you've been writing maybe take a few moments to read.

You might want to spend a few minutes doing a crossword or Suduko puzzle.

3. Ask for help
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Too many people suffer in silence. Especially, if you are working as a part of a larger team, your team-mates would rather know that you are feeling overwhelmed so that they can devise ways to help you out, than find out at a critical time that you cannot deliver your part of the project on time.

If you are an employee speak to your boss to explore possible ways of restructuring your workload. If you're the boss then look at introducing new systems and ways of automating aspects of your work to take the pressure off your shoulders.

Interview with Dr Edward Hallowell

Courtesy of Joe Polish and my colleagues at Piranha Marketing you can listen to an interview with Dr Edward Hallowell today, Thursday 27 March:

Time: 3pm Pacific / 6pm Eastern

Phone: 1-507-726-3343

Passcode: 32708#

Replay at: 6pm Pacific / 9pm Eastern

The psychiatrist and founder of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, Massachusetts, Dr Hallowell has appeared four times on Oprah, such is his appeal and the value of the information he shares. So take advantage of this special opportunity to learn how you take control of your life and better manage stress.

Watch the video below for a humorous excerpt from Dr Hallowell's "Success with Sanity" seminar.

Click HERE if you cannot see video

How to Stay Cool, Calm and Collected
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1 comment:

  1. All great tips, I think the key is to use the tools during the work day to be more productive, and then turn them off and reconnect with your "offline" network when work stops.

    It is easy for people to be overwhelmed because it has never been easier to always be "on". You can take the office home via blackberry's and laptops, and continue to ride the ever increasing stream of information into the night.

    Thanks for the comment over on my blog.