No matter how “together” people may seem, we all feel overwhelmed at times. As a “solopreneur,” Senia handles big-picture, strategic initiatives as well as detail work. In the past six months, her detail work became overwhelming, with up to 50 items on her daily to-do list.
Senia reached out to three executive coaches who are productivity experts. She spoke with her friends. She enlisted virtual assistants and focused on streamlining her work. Yet her daily to-do list was still unwieldy. She felt stuck.
How can we get the advice we need?
Here are a few other strategies to try:
1. Talk to someone who is one chapter ahead of you.
Chances are you have at least one friend or colleague who has also been overwhelmed and yet figured out a solution. Daniel Gilbert, Ph.D., of Harvard University, advises in his book Stumbling on Happiness that if we don’t know how to make a decision, we should talk to someone who has just made that decision. If you’re thinking about becoming a parent, talk to parents who had kids a year ago and are still living through those sleepless nights.
2. Take baby steps.
Look for the smallest step that could have the biggest positive impact or difference. We recommend this action in our book Profit From the Positive. The power is that it focuses us on what we can change—now.
3. Step away.
Take a break. Just when you think you can’t get up from your desk, that’s exactly what you need to do. Remove yourself from the work; it’ll still be there when you return. Go for a walk; being out in nature has been found to have a calming effect. Go to the gym. Meditate for five minutes. The point is to do something you enjoy. You will return to your desk feeling refreshed and ready to tackle that to-do list.
When you’re stuck, go to your periphery of comfort. Find those people whom you otherwise might not have reached out to. Look for those actions you might not have otherwise tried.
MARGARET H. GREENBERG and SENIA MAYMIN, Ph.D., are sought-after executive coaches, speakers and positive psychology practitioners, and the authors of the book Profit From the Positive. Find more information about their coaching and certificate programs at ProfitFromthePositive.com.