Everybody does it, we all suffer from ‘overwhelm’ and put things off, sometimes A LOT!
When you have become overwhelmed and the procrastination seems like its happening daily, STOP! Take a breath, let’s make it all a bit easier for you.
Step One – Forgive Yourself.
Listen very carefully, and practice noticing, the subtle voice of the critic in your head. For some of us, we have heard it for so long that we don’t even notice it or, worse still, we simply believe it without question. Richard Carlson says in his book ‘Stop Thinking, Start Living’ that our thoughts determine our feelings. This can have a profound effect on both our minds and then consequently, our bodies too.
Practising listening to our inner-critic, telling it that it is wrong (out loud if necessary) and then forgiving yourself (because you are human and theses negative thoughts are perfectly normal – even for the most stoic amongst us).
Step Two – Banish FOP!
Fear or Perfection can often put us into a spin. But the job will be there nonetheless. Practice making deliberate mistakes (small ones) and leaving them there. Tell people you are doing it. It can completely remove your FOP and also release the tension of someone spotting an unintended mistake. They will simply think you meant to do it. Win-win! Believe me, this is hard at first but gets easier over time. And, if you ask your readers to spot the deliberate mistake, can lead to more readers and more comments – this boosts your Google juice too. Another win-win! (I like those).
Step Three – Tiny Tasks for regular boring jobs
Tim Ferris – of the 4-hour workweek, says that you can manage your overwhelm if you break things down and start with the smallest task possible it can more easily become part of a routine. This will make it as automatic as all the other things you easily do in a day.
Think about making the task much less than you are capable of doing. Make it insanely easy!
This is key because when we think a task is
-too much of a ‘pain in the ass’
We will feel overwhelmed and try to avoid it wherever possible (procrastinating)
Tim says to take the task of flossing regularly as an example.
You might say “ok I’m only going to floss my front two teeth! Just three gaps, the middle one and one either side. That’s all!
Then choose a tool that would make the task really easy. For example, perhaps you would use a ‘flossette’ pick, a ‘flossing gadget’ or something similar if you don’t like wrapping floss around your fingers. Make the whole thing as easy as possible. You can then apply this to much more than flossing!
Let’s say you are trying to write a blog or start email marketing to your clients but you feel ‘blocked’.
You need tiny ‘homework’ assignments so perhaps your goal could be just to try one sentence right now, or even just one word by tomorrow morning?
Often, all we need is just to make a start.
By using the tiny tasks method you can prevent yourself from feeling like a complete failure. This is crucial if you are going to get on with the less ‘glamorous’ things in your business.
Step Four – Start With Crap
Neil Strauss (NY Times best-selling author) says he doesn’t believe in writer’s block it’s nothing more than overwhelm, his best advice is to lower your standards otherwise you will create far too much anxiety for yourself.
You could even say if you had a bigger project like writing a book or an e-course that your goal is just ‘2 crappy pages per day’. Do not attempt to edit it, grammar check or even spell check it. Even if you don’t end up using them, it just gets you started.
Step Five – Don’t Think Big
Make your personal ‘success threshold’ really really low. What’s going to happen if you do that?
Well, chances are you will feel successful as you will at least be able to check off that goal for the day.
The weird thing is then, often, you will find yourself exceeding that goal as you get into your flow.
So you might be feeling particularly great that day and say to yourself ‘well I’m already in the bathroom flossing my two front teeth. Maybe I’ll just do an extra two…or four. Maybe I’ll have done my ‘two crappy pages’ but I’m in the flow now so for extra credit ill do 2 more, maybe even 5!
And remember, It’s ok to sometimes procrastinate. I started writing this very blog nearly a year ago. And, finally, I have completed it. The irony is not lost on me there :D
What do you think, have you ever tried doing any of these steps? I challenge you to try them and see what happens. Do you have your own methods to beat overwhelm?
Plus can you spot the deliberate mistake?
Let me know in the comments below.