When you feel OVERWHELMED, this is what you need the MOST

Work (and life) can be overwhelming. Too many things to do, constant distractions, and even if you work like crazy, stuff just keeps getting added to your to do list. And it feels like there’s no way out.

At times like this, you need to understand that your emotions are part of the problem. You can’t see solutions to your situation because your emotions – anxiety and stress – are preventing your mind from working properly (I’ve explained this in more detail in my free e-book).

One way to clear your mind and get unstuck is to have someone to talk to. Someone who really listens to you, asks you good questions and makes you think. Good questions and a listening ear is a valuable resource in life that many of us seem to be lacking.

This example of a coaching discussion will illustrate this better:

John was upset.

“I can’t get anything done here! All my time goes to pointless meetings, bureaucracy, filling out all the details in the IT systems. I’m so pissed off! Nobody gets any meaningful work done here. We’re just struggling with internal, empty routines day after day. Our REAL work is left undone.”

Coach: “I hear you’re really frustrated. It’s a common experience when things don’t work out the way we’d like them to work out. Can you say out loud – what is it you actually want in this situation?”

J: “To get my REAL work done, of course! And NOT use my time for all this unnecessary crap.”

C: “Good! So you’d like to get your real work done, but you feel your time is spent on something else.”

J: “That’s right.”

C: “What have you tried so far that would help you focus more on your real work?”

J: “What do you mean? Work just keeps adding up. What can I do about it?”

C: “So did I understand correct – you haven’t tried to do anything about it yet?”

J: “Well, I’ve talked about this in our team meetings. I’ve brought it up. But it leads nowhere.”

C: “Great! So you’ve talked about this in team meetings. What else have you tried?”

J: “I’ve talked to my boss, but it seems he can’t do anything about it. And of course, I’ve tried to prioritize my work, focus on the most important things and leave the less important things for later or dismiss them completely.”

C: “Excellent! So you’ve tried to talk with your boss and prioritize your work. Anything else?”

J: “Can’t think of anything else.”

C: “Has any of these things you have tried had ANY impact on the situation?”

J: “Not that I’ve noticed.”

C: “Ok. Now that you really think about this, what would need to happen to make it more possible for you to focus on your real work? What would REALLY help you in this situation?”

J: “Hmmm… I’d need more clarity on what is my REAL work and what is just bureaucracy and/or administrative tasks. Actually, that would help a lot! And now that I think of it, this kind of clarification would be helpful for our whole team. To really clarify – why are we doing our work – what is the purpose of our work and how should it impact our priorities.”

C: “Great insight! How could you take this forward?”

J: “I’ll propose to my boss that we take this up and reserve some time for this at our next team meeting. I believe he’ll agree to this kind of proposal.”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, having too much on your plate and feeling stuck, ask your colleague or friend to help you. Suggest that you take turns and coach each other! Share your situations and then ask each other: “What would REALLY help you in this situation?”. This can be fun for both of you. And sometimes this is all you need.

/ Jarkko


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