Productivity: Effects of Overwhelm on Productivity

overwhelm productivity Feb 28, 2020

I think we can all agree that nowadays there is nothing new in the sphere of personal development.

Everything has already been said, and we’re repeating it like it's new and novel.

Once in a while though, someone says something that catches my attention.

It makes me turn my head and go, wait, what did you say?

That once in a while came recently when I saw a Facebook post about overwhelm.

The post listed "overwhelm" as one of the top 5 traits that hold people back

Initially, I didn’t think much of it

Though over the weeks, the thought percolated in the back of my mind.

Then I experienced it as I was asked to speak at an event, do book marketing for someone, as well as some consulting work.

Like a ton of bricks, I was hit by overwhelm!

What did it feel like?

It’s easy to talk about overwhelm, but not so easy to describe

Muscles tense

Chest caves in

Body becomes heavy

Mind speeds up

Thoughts begin racing

Emotions become intense and unruly.

Images of mistakes and failure start flashing before your eyes

As a result, it becomes difficult to think about anything else as all focus and attention is on the one thing.

Looking back at my life, overwhelm has plagued me as far back as I can remember

Anytime something came up, no matter how simple or easy, I’d fall into this intense state.

Whether it was homework, talking to someone, my mom asking me to pick up something from the store, overwhelm would hit me like a bolt of lightning.

My entire being was consumed by it, throwing me into a state of self-preservation.

That's when procrastination and other avoidance behavior would arise.

Thinking back to those moments, it wasn’t the task or activity that caused the difficulty

It was the overwhelmed state!

Being overwhelm caused the task or activity to become difficult.

If my mind didn’t trigger the muscles to get tense, chest to cave in, and body to become heavy, or cause my thoughts to race, I could sit down and do the work just fine.

But in such a state, it’s difficult to do just about anything!

In fact, most things in life are not hard

Sitting down to read a book is not difficult per se...

Nor is starting a new business or opening a restaurant.

It’s the overwhelmed feelings the activity bring that cause them to be hard.

If those feelings didn’t arise, we could do them just like anything else.

When overwhelm kicks in, everything changes

Immediately, we feel like a novice, beginner, or amateur, like we don’t know what we’re doing or lack a certain skill.

We put in more time and effort than necessary, make more mistakes than usual, or immediately turn down or walk away from opportunities.

It’s not that we don’t know what to do or lack some skill, we just need to manage the overwhelm.

If we can reduce the overwhelm, we don’t have to let opportunities pass us by

So, how do we do that?

That’s the million dollar questions…

Which I hope to answer in the coming weeks

Until then


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