There are certain times of the year where overwhelm can hit us hard. Just before we go for a holiday or a break, or just after we get back.

Often there is the shared sense of overwhelm we all seem to get at the beginning of the school year. September seems to have hit some people hard. You may be one of those people who didn’t get a chance to catch up over the ‘quiet’ August or perhaps you didn’t get a quiet August. That is a good thing to have in a lot of cases, but it doesn’t help you with that ever increasing long list of things to get done.

The first thing that can happen is that it starts to effect the way you handle your clients, customers, or employees. Responses take longer, things get pushed back. You feel like you are in a situation of fire-fighting or digging sand. However much you do, there is something else to deal with. How do you get on top of it all?

Firstly, take time to just take a breath. Sit for 1 minute, concentrate on your breathing and just calm yourself down. Taking one minute out will not impact anyone or anything, greatly. If you can take 10 minutes to walk around the block or to the office kitchen, toilet, stairwell, and back, then do that. Get out of this rut immediately.

What you need to do is allocate some time to get this stuff out of your head and into some form of actionable plan. This will take some time. I know, you don’t have that right now. If you don’t allocate some time to this, it is not going to change. I think the best way to allocate some time to getting yourself on the straight and narrow is to book it into your calendar and then tell everyone that you will be out of action for 3 hours. Let all your employees, customers, and clients know when you will deliver what you need to. With most things, if you set expectation proactively, most people will understand. Those that don’t would need a good excuse to not give you the space to get straight.

When the time comes, get all those things out of your head and onto a piece of paper (or whiteboard). Everything and anything that is worrying you or you feel needs to get done.

This is the first step to feeling lighter. Once it is out of your head, your brain stops rolling it around and around. Now look at that list and prioritise it. In my view the priority is, you, family, employees, customers, friends, everyone else.

Against your list, add deadlines and whether there is flexibility. Now you can prioritise based on your own version of the list. Some of those things may be ambiguous and you feel that they are important, but cannot decide if one trumps another. This is where you need to add the layer of your own business strategy to help you sort through.

I hope this will give you some thoughts about getting out of your own head and into a sense of productivity. One thing it may give you is the ability to throw some activities out as not relevant or useful or maybe some things that can be delegated. Not having the sense of overwhelm will also free some brain power for something more important!

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