Productivity is not just a matter of doing. There is a significant amount of mental effort involved as well – and this often is overlooked.
Overwhelm, the feeling of drowning in commitments, can be tackled both by doing things as well as changing your mindset. Today we look at 5 things you can think to combat overwhelm.
The Mental Component
If your head isn’t in the game, it doesn’t really matter how well prepared your body is.
Productivity is not just about doing things – it’s also about the mental component that allows you to sift through, decide and work on things.
Conversely, if you are overwhelmed, you have to deal with the mental part of it. Getting your head back in the game is just as important as whittling down that pile of tasks waiting for you.
5 Things You Can Change In Your Thinking
Here are five things you can change in your thinking to help with overwhelm:
1. Understand that you can’t have and do it all.
Often our minds think we can do more than we can. Knowing that you are limited gives you an edge in combatting overwhelm. You can’t do and have it all, so don’t try.
Instead, decide what is truly important to you, and let the rest go.
2. Stop thinking you need to know more.
The quest for knowledge before embarking on a task can add to overwhelm quickly. We feel paralyzed because we don’t think we have enough know-how to do the task, and we don’t know how much more we need to know.
This attitude is just a sanctioned form of procrastination. As Mary DeRosa Hughes said, “by telling myself I’m not qualified yet, I am absolving myself of having to take action.”
Go with what you know.
3. Have faith.
You will never find on this blog instructions to pray or read holy texts or get close to your god. I walk a non-traditional spiritual path and I am intensely private about it.
That being said, no matter what your beliefs or none, you can still have faith that what you need to know and do will come to you at the right time.
I believe that youI don’t have to search for more information; what you need to do you can do right now with the tools and knowledge you have. If you don’t truly have the tools and knowledge, then it is either not your task, or it is not the right time.
4. Know you don’t have to do it perfectly
As a person who has more than a little perfectionist tendency, I can get caught up in wanting to do things perfectly, and therefore never starting. This leaves tasks on the list until they snowball into an avalanche.
Instead, knowing that nothing is irreversible except those decisions that involve death, I can move forward knowing I can adjust, re-do, edit or whatever.
As my current iPad wallpaper reminds me: “A crappy first draft is worth more than a non-existent one.”
5. Eliminate mental distractions.
There are hundreds of tips on the interwebs about how to eliminate distractions and get to work. Yet very few of them include techniques on how to remove mental distractions. Removing mental distractions is harder than physical ones – you can’t just move into a different space or pop on headphones to get rid of those thoughts careening in your head.
There will be an article in this weekend’s newsletter (want the newsletter? Subscribe here) on eliminating mental distractions; but for now know that writing things down quickly can get you back on track most of the time.
6. Go for the small wins
I know I promised 5 ways, but consider this a bonus and a testament to my fight against productivity. 🙂
One of the quickest ways to get moving on a lot of tasks is to go for the low-hanging fruit. We talked about this last time, but it’s not just about clearing space on your list. Getting rid of a bunch of small tasks gives you the “win” mentality that will buoy you through more tasks.
I’ve heard that Dave Ramsey doesn’t advocate clearing away debt by tackling the highest interest rate one first – but rather the one with the lowest balanace, just for this reason.
Never underestimate the power of small victories.
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Productivity is a mental game too. By knowing you can’t do it all, going with the knowledge you have, letting go of perfection, eliminating mental distractions and going for the small wins, you can get your head back in the game and away from the overwhelm.