The definition of overwhelm

The definition of “overwhelm” is pretty intense, actually. It means:

  • bury or drown beneath a huge mass
  • defeat completely
  • give too much of a thing to someone

When you’re feeling buried under a mass of so much stuff, and you feel as if you’ve been given too much of a thing, it can feel as if you’re responsible for everything in the whole world. But it is liberating when you step back and get clarity about the things that ONLY YOU can do.

Here is the process and framework I use to get clear on what only I can do and make sense of things when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

The definition of overwhelm

A few alternative things you can do when you’re bored (instead of scrolling social media)

Here are a few alternatives to what I call the “Just Checks”.

  • Scroll through your Day One timeline and read a previous journal entry or browse some old photos and memories.
  • Launch Day One and log how you’ve spent your time so far for the day. Doing this for a few weeks can also be super helpful for getting a perspective of where your time and energy are being spent.
  • Write down 3 new ideas. These could be articles you want to write, business ideas, places you want to visit or photograph, topics you want to research, date ideas for you and your spouse, gift ideas for a friend, etc. These ideas never have to to be acted on — the point isn’t to generate a to-do list, but rather to exercise your mind and build your idea muscle. Ideation and creativity are muscles, and the more we exercise them the stronger they get.
  • Send a text message to a friend or family member to tell them how awesome they are.
  • Don’t get out your phone at all — do some stretches or take a 5-minute walk.

Take advantage of those moments of down time in between meetings, calls, or whenever. Allow your mind to rest for a bit or engage it by doing something active and positive.

A few alternative things you can do when you’re bored (instead of scrolling social media)

Make Fewer Small Decisions

You and I only have so much willpower, decision-making ability, and/or creative imagination throughout the day. Try to reserve that energy for things like deep work, deep conversations, and big decisions.

The more you can automate the inconsequential areas of your life, the the more energy and strength you have for doing your most important work and building your most important relationships.

Lean on your daily habits to let things run “automatically” and thus giving yourself more energy for thinking, creating, and decision making.

Make Fewer Small Decisions

Do You Need a Change or Are You On the Verge of a Breakthrough?

When you’re feeling the pain of overwhelm, first, pause and listen to it because there can be two reasons for the stress you feel.

  1. It may be that life is saying you need breathing room.
  2. Or, sometimes that feeling of overwhelm is because you’re in a season of transition — you’re close to a breakthrough.

When it’s the former, you need to dial down and create some margin. Make sure you’ve got some things in place so you can stay sane and healthy.

When it’s the latter and you’re on the verge of a breakthrough — you need help and the perseverance to press through.

Do You Need a Change or Are You On the Verge of a Breakthrough?

When you make something that matters, it will be polarizing. There will be some people who don’t like it. But there will be others who love it. It’s not easy to make something and put it out there. But when you do, look around: are there people you find awesome, and are they happy to be around your work …. then you are on the right track. You’re serving the right people doing something worthwhile.

How to Tell You’ve Created Something Worthwhile

How to Build Your Idea Muscle

If you spent 5 minutes every day doing pushups, would your arms get stronger?

What if you did that every day for a year? You would become a pushup machine! You’d be totally unintimidated to do pushups anytime, anywhere.

On the bus and your friend dares you to do a pushup — you’ve got this. At the office and you lose a bet to a co-worker — show them who’s boss and bust out your pushups.

Let’s suppose that in your life, there was a situation every day where you’d need to do some pushups. Wouldn’t it make your life so much easier if you were regularly practicing pushups so that when the time came, you’d be able to crush those pushups and show everyone your awesomeness?

Well, the same goes for ideas.

The benefits of having a functional idea muscle means you can be an idea machine.

Do you run a business? Are you a mom or a dad? Do you write? Do you design things? Do you make stuff? Do you have a challenge or a problem in your life that you’re trying to fix?

Each of your roles in life can benefit from your ability to come up with ideas. And, when you get good at coming up with ideas, it builds confidence and makes problems far less intimidating.

One simple way to build your idea muscle is to spend 5-10 minutes writing down ideas. Just writing and getting things out of your head. You don’t even have to DO anything with those ideas. The act of writing them is enough to un-clutter your mind *and* build your idea muscle at the same time.

How to Build Your Idea Muscle

Here are 10 tips to help you stop procrastinating that thing

  1. Set a short timer
  2. Ask someone to help you
  3. Get a focus buddy for accountability
  4. Only do one thing at a time
  5. Time block your tasks
  6. Go on a short walk and think about what you’ll do when you get back
  7. Ask someone else to do it (delegate)
  8. Answer “why” 3 times
  9. Don’t be perfect; focus on good enough
  10. Leave your phone in a different room

Which number is most helpful for you?

For me, I lean on 2, 5, and 9 the most: I work more efficiently when I am collaborating with someone else; time blocking my day helps me stay on track; and I’m a chronic over-thinker who has to be reminded to stop overthinking things.

10 Tips to Help You Stop Procrastinating