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Frozen in overwhelm

Do you ever feel completely frozen with overwhelm? It sounds contrary, doesn’t it? Surely being overwhelmed should make us run around like headless chickens and sometimes I guess it does. Jumping from one task to the next with barely a moment’s pause to consider if you’re doing things in an efficient manner of if in fact you truly should be doing them at all. If, in fact, you truly want to be doing them at all. If they truly make a difference.

But I’ll try not to get side-tracked, because what I want to talk about today is the other side of that coin. The idea of being completely and utterly frozen with inactivity as a result of all that you have, want to do, or simply think you should do.

By inactivity I don’t actually mean standing stock still like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. I mean standing still on the tasks that matter to you. And filling your life with fluff instead. Kidding yourself that you’re being busy so therefore you are being productive.

I don’t know if this will challenge you a bit but I believe that busyness and productivity are actually poles apart. It’s been my experience that the busier you allow yourself to be, the less productive you become. And the more overwhelmed you start to feel. So what do you do? If you’re a driven woman (and I know you are, this blog is for driven women after all) then no doubt you push yourself to become even busier. You may even take on additional tasks, perhaps telling yourself it will motivate or even force you to finally get the current outstanding tasks on your list complete.

It won’t.

the holiday phenomenon

There’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed in my own life whenever I go on holidays or away to attend a course.

All of a sudden, and usually only in the one or two days leading up, I Get. Stuff. Done. Important stuff. I ruthlessly sweep aside fiddly tasks that aren’t actually crucial and I fly through the big and important stuff that I know simply must be completed if I’m going to be able to switch off for a day or two whilst away. Like a particularly uncaring dictator I postpone, kill or delegate all but the very very very necessary or meaningful.

You might have noticed this phenomenon in your own life, perhaps back in high school or Uni days when you’d do an entire high-mark assignment the night before it was due. Never mind that doing a little bit each day would have got you there weeks or months ago, and without the stress of the race to the finish.

Or perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the phenomenon. Perhaps you take work with you when you go away. Because you have to, because nobody understands how much is on your plate, because you’re just so darn important and busy.

But are you productive?

Of course if living on the edge is your thing and you like getting stuff done in a race against the clock then that’s your call. But be honest now – do you really like constantly having to catch up on weekends? Turning down social invites because you’re too swamped with your busy life? Rarely if ever having the freedom to just do nothing for a day if you so desire, or perhaps even to spontaneously do something fun and adventurous?

Don’t tell me you love living this way. And don’t even try to tell yourself. And let’s be honest now – you can get the adrenaline rush without first spending hours, days, months or weeks being frozen in busyness and overwhelm.

Want an adrenaline rush?

  • Do your important tasks in a race against the clock, but I’m talking an actual timer used to motivate you. Not the clock of your life.
  • Choose your important tasks for the day before each day kicks off. Write it in your diary, make it screensaver, stick it on a post-it in your wallet or just note it mentally and stick to it. Try to make sure your big tasks actually are the things that matter in your life,
  • For heavens sakes do your most important tasks first thing in the morning. First thing means first thing. Because unless you are actually Woman Incredible it’s very very likely that leaving them until later in the day will result in you ending up much to busy to be able to deal with them. And we both know that it’s NOT only today; it’s NEVER only today
  • be ruthless with your choices. There are not 20 most important things for the day. There are not 10 most important things for the day. Not even 5. There might be 3 max. Choose them and cull the others. If you can’t decide. that’s too bad. You’ll continue to be frozen in overwhelm, a busy little bee who everybody admires for their drive but you’ll probably never achieve any of your big picture dreams. So long as you’re okay with that?
  • Assuming you’re not, reward yourself along the way. Not for being busy, but for being truly and satisfyingly productive. Give yourself a 2pm coffee break, go for a leisurely walk, read a novel without simultaneously revamping your to-do list in your head. Plan a bigger rewards or time out perhaps.
  • and finally, make sure you treat every single day like your life depends upon it and like it’s your last chance to reach for your dreams.

After all, it just might be. And nobody ever got to the end of their time and wished they’d been more busy.

I don’t think you’ll be the first, will you?

Life is Now. Press Play.

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