I find this to be a pretty useful definition of stress…..”Situations where you overestimate a problem while underestimating your ability to deal with it”.
How often do you feel overwhelmed about everything you need to get done? So much to do in so little time. Once we start to feel that way we are actually giving more energy credits to feeling stressed about the problem than giving energy credits to just buckling down and getting the work done.
You know the feeling where you try to focus on one thing and yet you have that niggling feeling wondering how you are going to get through everything. So maybe you either don’t know where to start and you procrastinate, or you try to start on something and then feel like you should move onto something else and then you end up just feeling paralysed and next thing you know an hour goes by and you haven’t really accomplished anything……
Effectively you are multi-tasking, which we now know is a much less efficient mode of operation. You are trying to focus on one task but your brain keeps going to another task of trying to work out how are you actually going to get everything done. We see this all the time and it’s really common in high performers – let’s face it, high performers want to do as much as humanly possible so teetering on that line can be a dangerous place which can threaten productivity instead of enhance it.
This can be the situation for many of our clients when they first start working with us – let’s face it – people don’t come to us because they are sitting around with too much time on their hands
One of the first things we help is to understand the neuroscience of what’s happening in their brain when they feel overwhelmed and then we start with a few different ways to help them get out of overwhelm. Depending on the person, some of these techniques might include:
Breathing deeply with your diaphragm to get back control of your pre-frontal cortex – the rational part of your brain which is going to help you to hash a plan to get everything done.
2. What can be ditched?
Not everything is worthy of your energy credits, both inside and outside of work – we need to look at life as a whole and work out which bits you really need to be doing and what can be outsourced. Oh and then we help them deal with the mindset of actually letting things go.
3. Optimise cognitive energy
This is big and too much to explain here. Check out “The Neuroscience of Getting More Done” – our online course on our online training platform. In 8 modules over 6 weeks you’ll learn some great science-based tools to help you understand your own cognitive energy and how to apply our tools to your specific situation.
4. Do a mental shutdown each day
Following on from number 3. above, knowing how long something is going to take you and then scheduling it at the right time will go a long way to helping you know that you have the right amount of hours to get things done.
In Cal Newport’s book Deep Work, he explains the concept of a mental shutdown at the end of each day. This is the time to do a quick revision of your situation so that you can reschedule, reprioritise and know that you have an up-to-date plan to get everything done before you switch off for the day. This will go a long way to helping you to switch off and sleep better.
If you would like to know more about any of these concepts, please get in touch.