What to do then? Here’s what I do and the three simple steps I follow to go from a stressed and overwhelmed headspace to one with clarity, calmness and a sense of direction within minutes.
1. I reconnect with the present moment.
When you feel overwhelmed you are stuck in your mind, you are stuck on all the things you have done and all the things you have to do today and perhaps even this week and month.
No wonder you feel overwhelmed and stressed out. So when I feel this way I reconnect with the present moment. I just focus on my breathing for two minutes. Just the in- and outbreath and nothing else.
Or I spend two minutes just taking in what is right here right now. The computer in front of me. The sunlight through the window that warms me. The buses and traffic going by outside and the clear blue sky. I use all my senses to just focus on what is happening around me right now and nothing else.
By doing so I align myself fully with what is happening right now instead of being somewhere in the past or future or both of them inside my mind.
Yes, I still have the same things to do. But the overwhelm that was is in my mind because I was looking at things from a perspective that hurt me loses it's power.
2. I ask myself: what is the most important thing I can do right now?
Usually the answer is that I need to work on things that aren't urgent but very important such as a new digital product or looking at and starting to explore new opportunities.
3. I stop thinking and take action in a single-tasking manner.
Then, when I have come up with the answer – usually by consulting my to-do list on teuxdeux.com – I get to work. I do not think about it for a few minutes since that only makes it harder to get started and I often wind up procrastinating away much more than those few minutes.
Instead I focus on just this one task I need to do. I take breaks every hour but keep working on it by single-tasking until it is done. Then I start working on the next task that is now the most important one.
By doing so I use my work hours in the best way I can and I feel good about myself and the work I have done at the end of the day.
This little ritual of three habits can take some time to getting used to and you’ll probably stumble. But after a while I noticed that it became more and more automatic and I felt less inner resistance and could change gears from overwhelmed to focused faster.
So keep practicing even if you stumble. It usually takes at least a month to establish a chain of habits/ritual like this and probably more than a month if all three habits are brand new for you. Be patient with yourself.
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