The ProCoach Success System

Create the life you REALLY want. October 2005 Issue  

Do you ever have so much going on in your life that it is a struggle just to keep up? Last week was like that for me: I conducted evening seminars in three different cities followed by a 6:00 a.m. flight back to Vancouver to staff the ProCoach booth at an all-day tradeshow. All the while I was directing company operations from afar, as well as keeping up my coaching schedule. It was more than a little crazy!

Most of us experience times when our lives become so hectic that surviving becomes more of a priority than moving forward. When this occurs, it is easy to become overwhelmed and unproductive. Last week I managed to stay in overdrive without going into overwhelm. Partly it was luck; very few things went wrong. But I also used some simple, yet very effective coping strategies to keep things together. Given the busyness and stress of life these days, it is worth taking a look at these strategies.

Imagine your body and mind as batteries containing the energy that powers your life. When your batteries are low and the demands on your physical, mental and emotional energy are high, overwhelm can easily occur.

If you are paying attention, the symptoms are easy to spot. Your thinking becomes fuzzy and you find it difficult to focus. You spend time doing things that do not align with your priorities and your productivity takes a nosedive. Your attention span becomes shorter and you make poor decisions, forget things or become disorganized. Even tasks you would normally take in stride can become a challenge.

It is not just physical activity and long hours that use up your energy. Stress and emotional turmoil also exact a heavy toll. Keep in mind that "battery capacity" varies from person to person, so don't compare yourself to others. Instead, learn how to nurture and maximize your own energy.

When you are busy, overwhelm can catch you by surprise and you may suddenly notice that you are being completely ineffective. When this occurs, you need to immediately turn your attention to self-care.

Unfortunately, one of the symptoms of overwhelm is the tendency to make poor choices. For instance, you may find yourself reaching for a donut and extra-large coffee in situations where a sandwich and fresh salad would better serve you. Often the first step to turning things around is to override your destructive habits and replace them with healthy choices.

Here are some suggestions that will help you renew your energy and maximize your productivity when you are suffering from temporary overwhelm. These same steps are extremely effective when you are seriously overwhelmed or dealing with depression.

Break your projects down into small, do-able steps and complete one task before moving on to the next. Only work on one thing at a time and focus on the next step rather than the big picture. This reduces the strain on your resources and enables you to stay productive even when your batteries are low.

Clutter and chaos further deplete your energy, so put things away as you go. Strive to keep your physical surroundings clean and organized.

Be diligent about caring for your body. Eat regular meals choosing simple, healthy foods. Difficult as it may be, avoid caffeine, sugar and processed foods. Drink more water than usual. Sleep regular hours if possible and if stress is ongoing, take vitamin supplements.

Physical exercise and getting outdoors for fresh air is crucial. Regular workouts are excellent for eliminating stress. Even a brisk 30 minute walk outdoors will clear your head when you are feeling burned out or bogged down.

Ask for help early, before things get out of hand. Avoid the tendency to withdraw from others when struggling with a stressful situation. Delegate tasks where possible, and seek assistance from a coach or even a therapist if appropriate.

If you know in advance that you have a hectic and stressful time ahead, take steps to prepare. For example, last week I cancelled all non-essential activities, did an extra workout the week prior and booked a well-deserved massage for Friday afternoon.

These suggestions may sound simple, but when you are feeling overwhelmed they can be hard to implement. Don't beat yourself up if you have not managed to do everything suggested above. Just put into practice what you can and be sure to acknowledge your successes. You will know you are succeeding when you can stay refreshed, focused and effective during a period of serious overdrive.


Andrew Barber-Starkey, Master Certified Coach.

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Andrew Barber-Starkey is a Master Certified Coach residing in Vancouver, Canada. His coaching program, the ProCoach Success System, is designed for entrepreneurs, small-business owners, self-employed and commissioned sales people who want to double their income while simultaneously doubling their time off within 3 years.

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