Ever felt so stressed that you could not make any decisions? Ever felt so frightened in a situation that you lost the ability to think rationally? That’s your amygdala taking resources away from other critical parts of your brain
My most recent social media theme was 'sleep'. 3rd January was the Festival of Sleep which started me thinking. Over Christmas I felt I had more sleep than I’ve had in a long time. Whilst I had more sleep hours, they were spread over too many late nights, a few lie-ins and lots of naps on the sofa in front of films; it was wonderful! Do I feel better for it? Actually, I was ready for another break as soon as the holiday was over.
bury or drown beneath a huge mass of something
the act of being overwhelmed by something
Does this definition feel familiar to you? Not surprisingly what will be overwhelming to one person won’t be to another. Equally, what overwhelms you at one point in your life could cause little difficulty at a different time. If this is a problem for you right now, here are 15 tips to help.
1. You cannot do it all. At least, not all at once.
2. Your health and mental well-being are the top priorities. Start from there.
3. Plan time to step back from everything and get a true picture of the scale of the problem.
4. Get down everything in your head. Pull together any information in diaries, piles of filing, scraps of paper etc.
5. Look for anything with a deadline - record it. Anything that needs an action - record it. If you can plan these under category or project headings straight away, it will help.
6. Decide on actions headings that suit you, for example – File Now / Quick tasks to sort / More in-depth – time required.
7. Sort individual tasks into your action headings. One simple way is a large sheet of paper with post-it notes under each heading.
8. Get systems straight – depending on what it is that needs organising, you will need structure. So, if it is paperwork, you’ll need a place to store it. Does it need to be accessible or can it be archived somewhere where it won’t take up day-to-day space?
9. Make use of an urgent/important matrix (sometimes called The Eisenhower Principle)-plot it all on there.
10. Don’t task flit – plan in small focused tasks.
11. Block distractions – identify where they come from, then sort them. For example; emails – plan a time to view, working from home – set expectations.
12. Know where you are heading; if there are specific goals you are aiming for, then prioritise the actions which will move you towards those. Break big projects into smallest steps. Have a laser-like focus on the most important goal.
13. Don’t over plan what you will achieve in one day…pick 3 key tasks. Aim to include tasks which will support your future efficiency and not simply be reacting to the next ‘essential’ deadline.
14. Tools to help – try a bullet journal if you like paper and pen methods. It is more flexible than a printed diary, just don’t get overwhelmed with all the creative options out there!
15. Prefer digital organisation? – I’m loving Trello at the moment. Google calendar is also helpful. Make use of invites to events and notification reminders.
Questions to help you think –
Which areas are causing you the most pain?
What steps can you take to address those?
Which steps will have the biggest impact?
How do you use time currently?
Where are you most efficient / least efficient?
What can be delegated / dropped / postponed?
If you are really struggling with finding a way through overwhelm, then enlist the support of someone you trust. Sometimes when we are wrapped up in many projects, everything feels essential and urgent. A fresh pair of eyes can help you evaluate the situation objectively.
Our brains are amazing things. Neuroscience has had a huge impact on goal achievement and coaching.
Take just one part of your brain – the pre-frontal cortex. It is responsible for problem solving, decision-making, perception, motivation and will-power. This is the part of your brain that is used for conscious thinking so it pays to help it along a little.
Some things to remember:
It uses a lot of energy and can tire easily.
It works better at interacting with information rather than storing information.
So, get ideas out of your head – make lists, mind-maps, visuals, talk about your ideas and draw sketches.
Find ways to block interruptions and create optimum conditions for focussed attention on the task at hand.
Plan opportunities to give your brain replenishment and down-time. It will pay off.
When I’m coaching clients, I help them to use different ways to visualize and explore their goals and always build in strategies to help their brain work more effectively. Call to book a complimentary 30 minute session to discover how coaching can help you (and your brain).
Many small business owners describe speaking about their businesses as uncomfortable and occasionally nerve-wracking, yet getting your message across is vital. After a successful exhibition at the FSB Expo in Rugby last month, a few thoughts came to mind about presenting at events.
Reframe negative chatter
Watch out for those messages you give yourself before talking to a group of people. Is it true that everyone will watch you with blank faces? And if they are watching you with blank faces, does that necessarily mean they are being critical?
Make a friend
The more events you go to, the more likely you are to get to know people. When there are familiar faces in the crowd it is far easier to focus in on them. If you don’t know anyone, start chatting with people around you. For me, this has led to some great business contacts and friendships.
Don’t do what you’ve always done
I’m fond of using notes on cards and plenty of preparation, but at this event a sudden change in running order meant I had to quickly present without being able to grab my notes. It went a lot smoother, so try mixing up your preferred way of working. It will get you out of your comfort zone.
Trick your brain
Make use of the fact that your brain cannot distinguish between reality and acting. Stand in your power pose – shoulders back, head up, smile and remind yourself that people want to hear what you have to say.
A final tip…Look Up!
Trying to find last week’s venue involved my car SatNav and then the app on my phone. After having no luck with either, I looked up and saw a sign 100 yards away directing me to the very place I was aiming for. The message could be one about moving away from technology but I chose to take it as a valuable reminder to look up and see the big picture. Don’t focus on only the fine detail, instead step back and really notice what’s around you.
Here is a well-used model and one worth revisiting. It is a way of representing our zones of learning and development. Look at the centre circle; this is a place which can feel safe and familiar. It's what we know best and how we perform without effort. Sounds comfy, and although progress is feasible here, it can be a depressing place. Little will change and it can be full of doubt and fear.
When we make huge changes, or when huge changes are forced upon us, we can feel as if we are in the panic zone. Things can feel out of control. We can suffer mental paralysis, and fear can cause us to feel overwhelmed.
The optimal position for growth and development is in the stretch zone. This is different for everyone; one person's panic is another person's stretch. In Susan Jeffer's book "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway" she included this powerful model.
She suggests taking small 'risks' (nothing dangerous or illegal) which help you move from a position of comfort to power. As we do this we expand our zone of comfort.
So, my coaching questions to you are...
Where are you on the comfort zone model?
What is that you want to achieve or be better at?
What risks can you take to help you expand your comfort zone?
How would it be if you were to make these changes?
When you’re trying to make progress with a project or issue, a great goal is a vital starting point. It can be all too easy to reel off things we want to do or to think we have the plan in our head. Until we work on writing down crisp and clearly thought out plans, ideas can drift along endlessly.
SMART goals are a familiar and strong starting point. Make sure your goals are;
Specific: If a goal is precise then it is far easier to plan steps towards achieving it. Too vague and you risk not knowing when you’ve arrived.
Measurable: Decide how you want to measure when a goal is achieved. This will also help with your motivation.
Achievable: If a goal feels unachievable ask yourself why. Is it because it is something that is out of your control? Or does it just need to be broken down into smaller steps?
Relevant: Make sure the goals have meaning to you. Will they get you where you want to be?
Time-bound: Make your timings specific to be most successful; right down to the precise time and date you are aiming for.
SMART goals are a good place to start. However, for the best chance of success, make sure your goals fit with the following principles.
Are they aligned with your values? Ask yourself what is important to you and spend time working out the core values for your business or for how you wish to live your life. Check that your goals will contribute to these and you will be far more motivated.
Review them on a regular basis. Keep your goals at the forefront of your mind and it will be easier to spot when you are drifting from them or when the effort you are putting in is contributing to something less important. Where will you display your goals? How will you make sure you see them at least daily?
Keep them positive. Think what you do want and not about what you don’t want.
Spend time building a picture of what achieving your goals will look like. Consider how it will feel, what the benefits will be to you, your business, your family. Consider how it will feel not to achieve them and how that will impact on you.
In summary for powerful goal-setting make sure they are;
- Aligned with your values
- Regularly reviewed
I wish you all the best with achieving your goals. If you want support pinning down great goals and identifying your values give me a call.
Launching a new venture is daunting; expect moments of doubt, pain and plenty of procrastination. Obviously it takes effort and the old adage, "no pain, no gain" fits well here.
Writing this blog for North&Nimble's new website is the last step of the first journey. The next journey begins now with many exciting developments in the pipeline. The key driver that has pushed me onwards has been a firm focus on the future and clarity around how life can be better - more on vision boarding at a later date. For now, if you are trying to take bold steps, try using these questions...
What is stopping you making the leap?
What do you gain from keeping things the same?
What sacrifices might you have to make in order to get what you want?
What might you gain from moving out of your comfort zone?
How would that feel?
Contrary as it may seem from a coach, sometimes the time just isn't right to make these changes. Making notes on what your gut feeling is telling you, will help. If, however, the pull towards your changes is stronger than the desire to stay the same, then perhaps it's time to see a coach!