Heart of a Leader

Leadership Matters

Do you feel overwhelmed?

I awoke early this morning feeling the pressing of many commitments that seemed unattended to. My mind was busy worrying about “how was I going to get all this done?” I realized, as I lay there not able to quiet myself and return to sleep, that I went to sleep with this same concern.

dreamstimeweb_267361 4For some time, I have wondered about the cause of the feeling of overwhelm. When I looked up the word overwhelm, I found the following definition, “bury or drown beneath a huge mass”. Well that sounded about right. Many of the people I work with often tell me they feel they have more to do than they have time for. Their overwhelm leads to a feeling of exhaustion much of the time, and they don’t see a way out.

To understand overwhelm better, I began looking at times when I have felt overwhelm (like right now) and times when I did not. What immediately jumped out at me were two things. First was my nature to please other people. Now this was a bit of a surprise. I had thought I wasn’t driven any longer by this need. Guess not. I find that I don’t want to say no to people that ask for my help. What happens when I say yes too often is that I slowly reduce my capacity to be of service.

computer accessing worldThe other thing that I notice is that I can get distracted easily. While I was writing this BLOG my mind had a million questions it wanted answers for and I of course wanted to jump right in and accommodate its needs. This inclination to be distracted seems to be intensified by my personal computer and its link to the Internet. There are so many things I can find out about, and do, with the flick of my fingers that I can find myself in places I don’t exactly know how I got there. I have control over this and can stop that distraction NOW.

Well that feels better. I can see what is creating this havoc. Now what can I do to both reduce the overwhelm and not fall back into feeling this way again? Two things I know work. The first is that I will each day complete something that is important to me no matter what (like this BLOG posting). This sense of accomplishment shifts my mood (see last BLOG entry). When my mood shifts, I no longer am feeling overwhelmed.

Now to what is more challenging to me – not accepting everything that I am asked to do. There are two parts to this. The first is to stop creating situations where I am asked to do things I don’t have the capacity to do. I find that on occasion I will “drum up business” for myself. I will offer to help people before they even ask. Then when they want me to do something I wonder, “How did I get into this situation”. I can learn to wait for right time for things rather than trying to push them along.

joy of lifeThe other thing I can do is to make sure I don’t say yes too fast. I notice that I can get caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment and say yes to what seems like a good idea. Then I find out sooner or later that I shouldn’t be doing what I have agreed to. I know that when this happens it is only a simple matter of changing my promise. Even though I know this, I still try to do everything anyway. I have made my list of what I can change with others this morning and will lighten my load before I know it.

Well the overwhelm has subsided. How about you. Do you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed. What do you do?

Until later,

Thomas

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One thought on “Do you feel overwhelmed?

  1. Josh on said:

    Tom,

    This is one of the hardest things for me to conquer. You hit the nail on the head with this one, for me. Not saying yes too quickly, or making these “ad-hoc” commitments, is an easy way to filter out the tasks which I literally don’t have time to do or cannot do them in the time the person needs it done. Being a people pleaser, this is also the hardest thing for me to do, to turn someone in need away when I feel that, if I simply had more time, I could help them. I wonder if others feel the same way as I do in these situations when I begin to tell myself “It’s easier for me take on more than it is to watch someone else struggle”

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