What’s Your Definition of Overwhelm? How you define it relates to how successful you’ll be at getting out of the overwhelm mode. Webster’s Dictionary defines overwhelm as: upset, overthrow, submerge, overpower in thought or feeling. If you were to take 5 minutes and write a sentence or paragraph that starts with “being overwhelmed means this to me …” what would it say?
You’re not Alone. At a conference an outgoing woman began her questions by saying “I’m overwhelmed.” When participants nodded in agreement I wasn’t surprised. My research shows a majority of professionals are in the overwhelm mode 50 to 75 percent of their work week.
Narrow it Down. “Overwhelmed” is such a broad term. You can be overwhelmed by a beautiful piece of music. You can be overwhelmed by having too much to do, or not enough. You can be going 90 miles an hour trying to keep up. Or stuck because you’re so overwhelmed you can’t see the next steps. Imagine the woman at the conference more clearly defining her situation by saying something like, “I am overwhelmed with too many things to do in a short period of time.”
Solution Seeking. Changing your language from “I’m so overwhelmed” to “I have too many things to do in a short period of time” enables you to define the problem and begin seeking solutions. By asking “what do I need to do differently?” you may find a solution like re-negotiating a deadline or handing a task off to someone else to lighten your load.
By defining what being overwhelmed means to you, narrowing it down, and changing from a statement to a solution seeking question, you’re on the path to successfully overcoming overwhelm.
I invite you to give these suggestions a try and welcome your comments.