Overcoming the Overwhelm

The following is a brief article from a long-time executive which might prove helpful to many in organizing our busy lives.  It must be noted that its aim is the natural.  One should never discount, however, the importance and the need to use common sense and even natural prudence, remembering that grace is to permeate a well-formed nature.  As the old Catholic saying goes:  One must pray as if all depends on God, but work as if all depends on oneself.  May these words of advice help us to better prepare for a most generous and grace-filled Lent.


We all experience those days or weeks where there is just so much coming at us that we almost feel paralyzed. You know you need to do something, but you don’t know which something. And we pressure ourselves with a constant reminder that we have more to and need to do it better!

We all get overwhelmed. We all have a longer list of things to do than we have time in the day. We all feel everything is important. We all want to do everything right now so we can get on to the next thing.

I felt the pressure cooker when I became vice president of a large company. About a week into the job, I realised I had to have an organized plan not only in order to get everything done, but equally as important, to fight the feeling of being constantly overwhelmed. I was fine with admitting my feelings (to myself), but I needed to have a game plan for when that overwhelming feeling crept in.

Whether they admit it or not, this happens to us all. The important difference is in what we do about it. I came up with this list to guide me:

·       Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

·       It’s about Priority Management — Not Time Management

·       Make Time — Don’t Find Time

·       Plan Your Day — Don’t Just Show Up Today

·       Make Decisions — Don’t Just Shuffle Paper

·       Extend the Game

·       Make Time to Think

·       Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

It’s always about what is most important, and I work hard to tackle and complete that first. This takes discipline and focus.

It’s about Priority Management — Not Time Management

My priorities are all about what I need to do, not what I want to do. I structure my day with my priorities placed in my schedule first. Then I build in anything else I want to get done.

Plan Your Day — Don’t Just Show Up Today

Build a schedule that you can sustain. Start the day with a plan.

Make Decisions — Don’t Just Shuffle Paper

This is a reminder to me that decisions are part of each day. I need to do my due diligence and then make the decision. Period.

Extend the Game

This is a saying in sports that means you have to get more of the clock. In basketball we may foul an opponent, so they have to shoot free throws and then we get the ball back with no time having come off the clock. I do the same thing now If I have more to pack in a day, I may get up at 4:00 am and not 5:00 am, extending my day.

Make Time to Think

We can’t make quality decisions unless we put quality thought into them. Don’t get caught on the treadmill of the workday, make time to think. Good decisions are a priority for success.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

For me, simplification takes away a lot of the hesitation I get with complexity. Complexity causes doubt; doubt causes hesitation; hesitation hurts productivity.