How to know when you are being pushed into overwhelm and what to do about it

I had a huge brainwave this week. I am pretty much always working on how to be more productive with my days and in my business, on finding new time management “tricks” and attitudes that allow me to better serve my clients, be with my family more and live the balanced life I strive to lead every day.

And the line between “busy” and “overwhelm” is very, very thin. In fact, it’s easy to not notice when we pass over it and move from the good and busy perspective to the holy cr@p! perspective, I’ve got too much to do!!

I was working with my own coach this past week and we were working on prioritizing and aligning some different opportunities I have in front of me in my business right now, and a little voice at the back of my head stood up and said “Aha!”

The things and tasks that are more likely to push me into overwhelm are the things I actually don’t want to do.

The things and tasks that are more likely to push me into overwhelm are the things I actually don’t want to do.Click To Tweet

I realized this as I have some giant responsibilities and exciting opportunities before me right now and they don’t scare me. In fact, I am fully embracing – with barely a bat of an eye – those items and opportunities that are fully aligned with me, with my business, and with serving my most preferred community of professional women.

Think about it. If you were to break down what is on your list into categories:

  1. Looking forward to doing
  2. Not looking forward to doing (but have to do)
  3. I really “don’t have time” for this

What would you discover?

What is it you don’t “have time” for?

What is it you don’t “have time” for?Click To Tweet

And is it those things that you don’t feel you have time for, that are pushing you into a state of overwhelm, vs a state of plain old “busy”?

Here are some ways you can recognize when being busy is turning into overwhelm:

  1. I have too much in my head I don’t even know what to do first! (busy)
  2. UGH, I have no energy to do anything on this list. There is just too much to do. (overwhelm)
  3. I am really looking forward to this day, my calendar is packed but it’s going to be awesome! (busy)
  4. Oh my goodness, I don’t even want to get out of bed. There is just too much on my plate right now and I don’t want to do any of it. (overwhelm)

The definition of overwhelm is “to bury or drown beneath a huge mass.” Some synonyms are: “to swamp, submerge, engulf, bury, deluge, flood, inundate…” You get the idea.

The definition of busy is “having a great deal to do,” and “to keep occupied.” Some synonyms of the word “busy” are: hectic, energetic, active, lively, full, bustling, and vibrant.

See how the two definitions are very different?

Personally, I’m actually excited about being busy. I love to be busy! But once that busyness turns into a state of overwhelm, I am no longer energized by my “to-do” list and instead am getting dangerously close to being lost in a state of overwhelm, which leaves me tired, unproductive, and frankly – quite cranky. It is then that I know I am out of balance, not enjoying myself anymore and I need to make some changes to get me back into my happy, balanced, place.

Are you feeling buried by or energized by your responsibilities?

Are you feeling buried by or energized by your responsibilities?Click To Tweet

Once you tap into what you are feeling, you can start tackling what to do about it. But the first step is to recognize which state you are in. Are you just busy? Or are you overwhelmed?

If you’re in a state of overwhelm, it may be time to pick up the phone or send an email to a trusted colleague, advisor or coach. Often having an external mirror on your tasks can really help you see more clearly what needs to come off your list, and what needs to stay there.

And if that phone call leads you to me – I’d be more than honoured.

To your success – at home, and at work,

Susan Elford

P.S. If you’d like to receive regular issues of Balancing Your Total Life in your inbox twice a month, sign up here or below so you don’t miss a single post! You will be joining a community of like-minded, career-loving, life-balancing, go-getters who want to make the most of every single day. And, if this is speaking to you in a way that is sparking you to make some real change in your life or in your career, and you’re looking for more CLARITY about what’s next so you can be SUCCESSFUL in your career or your business, send me an email and we’ll set up time for a complimentary Balance Breakthrough Session. We will get you well on your way to figuring out how you can make those needed changes so you can balance it all and feel fulfilled in your life and in your work.

Personal Balance Equation Workbook ABOUT SUSAN ELFORD

Susan Elford is a PR Strategist & Leadership Coach who especially loves to work with people who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a balanced life. Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.

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New from @susanelford: 'What's the Difference between Busyness and Overwhelm?'Click To Tweet

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