Overwhelmed and over it?

Every assistant I’ve either interviewed or encountered sounds repetitive when discussing their nonstop, ever-increasing workload: “I’m overwhelmed and feel as if I’m never going to catch up!”

Guess what? You are never going to catch up! And this statement is from a communication expert who encourages you to refrain from using the words never or always. Un­­for­­­­tu­­nately, truth prevails in this circumstance. In our global, competitive world, your company’s expectations of you will only grow, so it’s up to you to get over the overwhelm.

Overwhelm stems from the feeling that you don’t have the time, energy, skills or resources to accomplish your tasks. The longer you hang in this emotional quagmire, the more time and energy you expend. Time and energy you can no longer afford to foolishly give away.

Assuming you already plan your day and work your plan, focus on priorities rather than activities and nix getting caught up in unnecessary conversations or meetings. How do you overcome overwhelm?

Practice being present. Put your attention on whatever task is at hand, whether creating a report or washing your hands following a bathroom break. After all, the most important thing happening in your life is happening at that exact moment. By remaining mindful you allow yourself to fully experience the moment while it unfolds.

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For example, when you focus on the water rushing over your hands, rather than mentally reviewing your endless lists and tasks, you prevent the possibility of anxiety resurfacing. When you focus fully during a telephone conversation, not only will you increase your level of connection and understanding with the caller, but you will decrease the likelihood of noticing 17 new emails in your account. Quick tip: I often close my eyes during calls to support staying present, which eliminates my eyes wandering to a note or a pile of overdue paperwork.

After task completion, ask yourself, “What is the next right move?” This strategy came from Oprah Win­­­frey’s advice to Stanford’s Grad­­­­uate School of Business on the process of finding your calling. Con­­­­sid­­eri­­ng how overwhelming life choices can be, this process allows you to select best next options.

Again, by limiting your thoughts to uncover the next right move, it stops you from processing additional steps that only up your stress. By focusing on the most immediate next action to take, you can jump into the project or task with enthusiasm and confidence. And, when you practice presence on said task, you combat overwhelm once and for all.