76% of people in the US regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress, and 48% feel their stress has increased over the past five years. It doesn’t have to move in this direction. We all have a whole lot going on, but it’s how we manage what we have that contributes or lessens the feeling of overwhelm. Of course, there will be seasons where overwhelm is higher, but if we’ve developed a good baseline of tools and habits that can help us manage that overwhelm, we are better equipped to tackle those seasons.
Here are a few steps that can help with reducing overwhelm in a tactical way:
Prioritize: If you haven’t already, write out the most important missions that you have for yourself in life and the work that you do - use a personal mission statement generator if you’re having trouble getting started (Franklin Covey has a great one here: https://msb.franklincovey.com). When you know what your priorities are, you can then gain great clarity on how you want to move forward in every area.
Eliminate: If you feel overcommitted in general, write out everything you’re involved in - every responsibility that you have in all areas of life and work. Move through the list and rank them in order of importance to you. Consider stepping away or scaling back things that don’t align with your bigger picture priorities in order to free up more space to spend time on the things that matter the most to you. This also makes space for you to be involved in doing the deeper level work in each area, fostering intention.
Subtasks: Once you’ve gone through the practice of identifying the bigger picture commitments, you can get more specific around the “subtasks” involved in moving each one of them forward.
Schedule time: Go through your schedule and match your time with your priorities, often we don’t realize that they don’t quite match up, we end up doing what’s right in front of us rather than being intentional with planning our time on the things that matter most to us. If you create a baseline schedule for your life and work, you can manage things that come up and easily evaluate whether or not you want to deviate from your baseline according to your priorities. This is the meaning of structure creating space.
Here are a few recurring habits to build into your schedule:
Start your day with quiet time: using music, reading, journaling or exercise as a way to kick off your day with some “white space” time.
Be flexible with your schedule: make small schedule shifts according to the particular day to move the pieces around in order to achieve a balance of whatever that looks like for you.
Plan out a few crucial to dos for the day: things that absolutely must get done, and the rest can wait, cross it off as you get it done. You can use an A, B, C, D system, putting the most important few things under A and the rest under each letter according to priority.
In the StoryWork process, we move through all of these phases in order to create a solid foundation that creates freedom for growth.