Hello overwhelm blog header image

Why do I always feel the ‘need’ to do more than one thing at a time? Hello, overwhelm!

Adages, contains the proverb “duos insequens lepore’s neutrum capit” and yes I also think this looks like gibberish… but translated from Latin these words mean ‘He who hunts two hares, catches neither.  Or put simply, if you chase two things at once and you won’t catch either. 

Maybe I should have started with the simplified version but, here we are!

If you’re not familiar with Adages, it’s a collection of Greek and Latin proverbs, published in 1500 and is known as Adagia or Adages.  So my point is, if this wisdom was known and shared 500+ years ago, why are we all still running around trying to achieve too much all at once? 

This need to try and do more than one big thing at a time is known to result in failure for both pursuits and in my opinion, it causes ‘overwhelm’. 

And clearly, it was an issue centuries ago or the proverb wouldn’t have been written. 

So, how does this ‘need to do too much’ take hold and grab you unaware? 

Hello Overwhelm blog image

How does it show up?

If you’re like me, it starts like this. A new idea will grab me and before I can tap my heels together 3 times, my mind is off and running with the glee of the promise of a freshly canned cocktail on a Saturday night in lockdown.

The initial idea is so simple.  Then the thinking takes hold and I’m making a mental checklist of everything I need to do to bring this idea to life. 

Next I think ‘mmm, that could really be this…’

And then it’s consumed me, my mind takes over and what started as a small, simple idea has snowballed into the most insanely huge undertaking it’s become a project in its own right. 

The yellow brick road has opened up in front of me, it’s unfolding like a ribbon reaching up to the sky. And like Dorothy who started out looking for a way home, has now found herself trying to find a brain for a scarecrow, courage for a lion and a heart for a tin man.  Don’t get me started on who ridiculous it is that chain of events is…overwhelm on the silver screen…and why did the responsibility to fix that sh*t all fall to Dorothy?

Speaking of overwhelm, on this occasion my initial idea was to create a little giveaway to encourage people to sign up for my email list.  Building my list would mean I could communicate with my audience directly and not be at the whim of social media algorithms.

And the thinking often continues like this…

I’ll create a printable daily planner to help folks stay on track with priority tasks each day.  And if I do that then maybe I should record a video on how to use the planner.  Perhaps it could actually be a mini-course and I could share more about goal setting, project planning and how to project manage.  All things I know A LOT about.  But then I’d need to market it and perhaps write some blogs to explain more about how to do it.  Following that I could use the blogs to share on social media.  And after that, I should think about creating a paid course that could go much deeper. It would be really useful for moving the needle on important projects. I could use all of this to help the team at work too.

OMG, here it comes.  I’m taking a task and blowing the do list to the sky. An idea to create a little PDF giveaway has now become:  

  • Create the giveaway
  • Make a how-to video
  • Design a mini-course
  • Write a bunch of blogs
  • Market the mini-course
  • Develop and produce a paid course
  • Learn how to promote the course
  • Set up a business to sell the course through
  • Create more products to sell
  • Master social media
  • Post to Insta daily
  • Master Pinterest
  • Learn Google AdWords
  • Study how to do webinars to sell the courses
  • Figure out how to use google ad words to sell the courses
  • Start a podcast to funnel the audience to my course 
  • Create a marketing plan for the podcast
  • And on and
  • on and
  • on

And on and on and on.  

A long way down the road

As you can see, the idea to create a simple giveaway has just lead me so far down the road that I am now creating a whole new business venture.  And that’s the thing, I already co-run a business.

Because I know that I am prone to doing this, I also know that the first thing I really need to do is 

start… 

Start with the first thing, create the giveaway.  

Instead of getting myself so overwhelmed by the insurmountable workload I just created in my head.  Just do the simple idea and see where it leads.  Because if I don’t stop myself then the idea will die on the spot and no further action will be taken because it’s, well, overwhelming!

And nothing stops progress like overwhelm.

Plan:

Pick one thing and just do that first.

Choose one project at a time. Don’t make the mistake of spreading yourself too thin.  Sure we all know the adage to hedge your bets, but you have to remember to keep the main thing the main thing.

However, in saying that, I do think there are some things that work really well in tandem and don’t cause overwhelm when you tackle them both at once.

Some ideas do go together like chocolate and almonds.

Projects that can work well in tandem are things like, 

  • Starting a healthy eating plan and working full-time.  
  • Producing a documentary and sewing on the weekends. 
  • Training to run a half marathon and writing a book.  
  • Growing your social media profiles and growing your blog.

These things don’t require being done at the same time.  You can go for a run after work or write a blog after dinner.  You can plan healthy meals, cook each night and it doesn’t impact your workday. See what I mean, they can happen in tandem. But if you try and produce two documentaries at the same time, grow two blogs at once or work two full-time jobs, neither will get your full attention.  It will have you stressed out of your mind and unless you have a team you can delegate to, it will take FOREVER…

Overwhelm for me

Overwhelm for me is too many competing priorities and taking on more than one big project at a time.

So until Glenda, the Good Witch shows up to wave her wand and do some of it for me. I have to manage my own time, focus on priories and do the stuff that moves me closer to my goals.

And remember to keep myself in check so I don’t take on too much.

I’ve learned all this the hard way!

Let me know if a short course on how to plan your priorities would be useful for you? I’m seriously thinking about creating one.  Just not with all the other steps happening at the same time. Leave me a comment or sign up for my newsletter if you do.

I have written about time blocking which is a great way to manage your time and get on top of your priorities. How to overcome distractions and take back your time.

My overwhelm is largely self inflicted and I know how to manage it but if you’re feeling more overwhelmed than what I’ve described here then you should absolutely seek help. A great place to start is Beyond Blue

I’m keen to hear your comments, leave one below.