If you have ever experienced overwhelm (and let’s be serious, who has NEVER experienced overwhelm?) you know the advice, just take the first step. Well, duh! If I was able to take the first step I would not be stuck in overwhelm!
A lot of research has been done in getting students to complete tasks and one way that was developed is called implementation intentions. Very simply, the researchers asked the students to complete a task – write an essay over vacation. Some students were asked when and where they would complete the task and these students did much better at completing the task.
Back to overwhelm. Yes, you have to figure out the first step, but perhaps you have to set an implementation intention to get started on that first step. Let’s look at an example of how this might look.
You are in your office and you are overwhelmed. You cannot get anything done because you have so much on your mind. You are kind of frozen and you know you have to get started. So set an implementation intention. After lunch I am going to go into the conference room and start task “A”. Task “A” might be a report that you have to write or it might be making a list of the tasks that you can delegate to others, but you are going to start moving. While many time management techniques tell you not to tackle the little things because they are not important, they just might get you moving and then more important things will follow. Or perhaps you really have to map out all your responsibilities and see which ones you can take off your plate. Either way you choose, this should get you started and the forward momentum will help you overcome your overwhelm!