Six Steps to Overcome Overwhelm

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In my coaching practice, one of the most common issues that comes up for my clients is the feeling of overwhelm. If you are a person who struggles with overwhelm, you’re certainly not alone. Remember that overwhelm is just a feeling, and you don’t have to let it decide your state of being. In fact, I believe overwhelm shows up when you’re on the verge of greatness.

Think of how many times you’ve come up with an amazing idea, but you don’t have the time you need to implement it? Or when your mind is constantly running through your to-do list, rather than staying engaged in the moment? Overwhelm may have shown up when you wanted to take your business—and/or your life—to the next level, but there was just too much to do to accomplish that. Or perhaps you didn’t have any idea where to begin.

So, what do you do when overwhelm threatens to take over?

You get completely clear on your priorities and biggest-impact activities. When you do this, you will feel a sense of purpose and calm, you will become as efficient and productive as possible, and you will put an end to the overwhelm.

When you feel overwhelmed, it’s difficult to be your most creative and most productive self.

I have six favorite action steps for reducing stress and overwhelm that can help you get more of the important tasks done in less time. When you put these steps to work in your life, you’ll free up time to do more of the things that fuel you, and less of the ones that drain you.

Here are the steps to help you get calm and clear, so you can take action:

Action Step 1 – Grab a pen and paper and write down everything you need to get done. Yes, everything! From the obvious big tasks to the smallest low-priority items; even the things that have been on your mind for a long, long time.

Action Step 2 – Sort your list into three categories:


  1. Things I Can Remove from My List—These are items that don’t actually have to get done. Those CDs to learn how to speak Spanish that you bought a year ago and you still haven’t gotten to can be taken off your list for now, so they aren’t hanging over your head.
  2. Items I Can Delegate—Can you ask your spouse or older children to help with some of your household tasks or errands? Could an employee or co-worker handle some of your work-related tasks?
  3. Essential Tasks that I, Personally, Need to Do—Don’t forget you may need to add scheduling meetings to your list to handle the delegating.


Action Step 3 – Prioritize! Look over your personal to-do list, the third category, and create a new list. Prioritize the tasks, putting the most important, at the top.

Action Step 4 – Schedule your prioritized tasks. Grab your calendar, and input tasks on specific dates and times. Include any actions you must take to begin crossing those items off your new, prioritized list. This will become your map, leading you straight to accomplishment.

Action Step 5 – Keep your mental chatter in check. Be firm with your inner voice. If your mind begins to run back over how much you must do, creating that feeling of overwhelm again, remind yourself that your tasks are organized and scheduled, and you’re going to accomplish everything with ease and grace.

Action Step 6 – Take action without distraction. When you’re scheduled to complete a certain task, do so, without distractions. I use an hourglass to help minimize distractions by not taking calls, checking email, or texting messages during that time. You can decide on any amount of time, but the key is being able to stay focused on the task.

I believe in having ease and abundance in all aspects of our lives. Taking the time to implement these steps will allow you to stay in your zone of genius. The following are a few additional pieces of advice to help you achieve your action steps without overwhelm:

Expect a course-correct. “The only constant in life is change,” right? So, expect to course-correct. Occasionally, something unexpected will come up, forcing you to shift priorities. Don’t let it throw you off course. Simply reschedule the original action into a different time slot, adjust your schedule accordingly, and get it done during the new scheduled time.

Honor your daily rhythm. Be aware of what time of day you are the most productive, creative, and focused and use that time wisely. Don’t use it for reading your emails or things you could do when you aren’t as fresh or energized.

Plan your daily schedule. Plan ahead. Start your productive time with the most important task. This way you’re putting the greatest energy into the tasks that will require the most from you and you know you will get them done.

Give yourself a daily pep talk. First thing each morning, tell yourself you have the time you need to accomplish everything that’s important for that day. Then, your unconscious can go to work on coming up with ideas of how to be even more efficient, to help you do so.

No matter how much you have going on, and even if you want to become a super-achiever, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed. With the right tools, techniques, and action steps, you can begin taking powerful action toward achieving your desired results … from a place of creativity, productivity, and calm clarity.

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  • Cyn Hannah

    Cyn Hannah, transformational life and business coach, teaches the formula for success that brought her from tragedy to triumph and can take you from a good life to a great life. Through her speaking and coaching she has helped thousands of people create quantum leaps in their results, both personally and professionally. Cyn has shared the stage with the likes of internationally acclaimed transformational teacher, Mary Morrissey and actress and wellness advocate, Mariel Hemingway. Cyn’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to numerous successful ventures prior to becoming a coach, including working in Hollywood as a television producer and being a member of the Directors Guild of America, owning a high-tech recruiting firm focusing on the Silicon Valley and selling real estate in the world-renowned ski resort of Sun Valley, Idaho. Her passion is empowering people to achieve tangible results so they can say, “I love my life!” Visit Cyn at:

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