I was weeks late with my draft, seeking counsel from authors who’d been through the same thing. Our conversations inevitably turned to how overwhelmed, beat, tired and burned-out many of us were feeling due to the “too much to do / can’t stop now” syndrome.
Are you one of those writers who can’t seem to stop “doing?”. Marketing, social media, blogging and, eventually … writing?
I’m yet to meet anyone who hasn’t felt overwhelmed from time to time. Since it tends to feel uncomfortable, if not downright unpleasant, we tend to view it as negative and as a weakness. We don’t dare admit we are overwhelmed, let alone talk about it. This can leave us feeling isolated and alone, further exacerbating the feeling. We often deny we are overwhelmed because we do not know how to stop the frenetic behaviour that leads to this feeling. So, we do nothing. Our employers, colleagues or friends often do not help support us to stop overworking.
It was exactly what I was doing to myself approximately this time last year.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Primarily, this syndrome occurs in our work life, but it can carry over to our personal and family life, and it frequently does. Focusing on projects often begins with good intentions but we can quickly and easily be overwhelmed if we do not have a plan to minimize and balance our work. Getting that draft finished, writing the perfect blog post, networking with reviewers and blogs or completing our latest marketing plan are extremely important – but having a balanced, health life is equally important.
This stressful pattern is telling you to change your life! Once you get this message, it is easier to identify the steps you need to take to shift out of the behaviour quickly.
Following are some helpful ideas gleaned from not only my personal experiences, but from chats with my amazing doctor other authors who are burned out, growing cranky, frustrated and even depressed. These strategies immediately diminish feelings of being overwhelmed so you can refocus and make some work/life balance decisions.
- Stop what you are doing for a few minutes and take a break. Go for a short walk, sit outside under a tree, meditate, breathe deeply, go to a movie, call a friend to have coffee and share what is going on. Sometimes just talking takes the world off your shoulders.
- Get a piece of paper and make two columns. In one column, list urgent things you need to do this week. In the other column, list those projects that you can delegate, hire or barter to be done. For me, this is a huge thing when looking at my ADHD – prioritising either nothing, or the wrong things, and trying to do everything yesterday.
- Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. This is my absolute favourite. Unsubscribe to unnecessary e-mail, organize your desk and office to decrease clutter, stop attending meetings, get off committees and decrease volunteering at fundraisers unless you have a total passion for the organization and the cause.
- Do not spend time with people whom you do not like. Assess your friends and business colleagues. Do they support and honour who you are? If they are negative and don’t share your vision for your dreams, don’t spend another minute with them.
- Decide what is most important in your life. If you want a balanced life, you will have to make changes in your life to allow this to happen. That takes some time and planning, but it will be well worth the improvement in your life!
- Take an action step today to make change in your life! Call a friend who will support you, take a class to get organized, or work with a coach who will support and motivate you to have a more balanced life.