Ever feel overwhelmed, stressed, or exhausted when there’s too much on your plate?  Business or personal, when the layers add up, people breakdown.  Feeling overwhelmed and being overwhelmed are not necessarily related, nor do they even need to play a role in your life.

So, why do some execute better and do more than others?  Can you?  Yes!  And here’s how:

Think, Compartmentalize, then Prioritize (and it rhymes!).

1.  Get it on the Wall:

When you’re overwhelmed or stressed, you are not thinking clearly; your mental threads are tangling into a knot.  To start the unraveling, go to your memo board or hang some wall sized  Post-It notes (not yellow pad time), and get those stirring thoughts out of the brain and on the wall.    This action will begin emptying your bucket to make room for new ideas and disrupting the mental loop that may be paralyzing.

2.  Compartmentalize:

Then, categorize those notes (some naturally categorized, others maybe not), and see what comes together, thematically.  Draw a box around each category to separate the entanglements, this is an important hack to visually and mentally compartmentalize.  You may now notice some oxygen coming back into the room…

Compartmentalizing declutters your mind and isolates those tangled threads from each other, allowing it to stretch, and bring clarity, creativity, and solutions you weren’t seeing before.

Each compartmentalized box is now a project, be it ongoing (lifestyle, business planning) or one time (product rollout, training initiative, etc), business or personal.  Now, drive action by going into project management mode:  When are these due by?  What are the tasks to accomplish? What resources are available, or needed?  Who’s your village to help?  What needs to happen for the next thing to happen?  Set accountability markers (due by’s) to move each task within the project forward.  Calendar time for each project to move them all forward.  When you visually see it on the wall, you mentally follow it – AND, you can easily add newly formed solutions as they form and as you go.  It makes execution fluid and purposeful.

3.  Prioritize

Lastly, prioritize each project or tasks within.  As obvious as that sounds, it is common that people work backwards because the priorities are stressful.  Instead, isolate and attack what’s most important first, progress crushes stress.  Prioritization facilitates divide and conquer so each project gets attention or is properly tabled and not lost.

Identify what you want, should, and need to do within each project, ideally matching those tasks to your strengths.  Delegate or pull resources into the challenge areas or mental blocks.  Understand, not everything is always solely on you, even though you may feel (or believe) that way.  You don’t eat the elephant in one bite…so breaking your project down into bite sized tasks will allow you to tap into your village and available resources.  Focus on where you go good to great, not bad to ok – scale those pieces off.

Compartmentalize then Prioritize is not difficult if you are mindful of it.  When you recognize that you are overwhelmed or need to get a lot done, that is your trigger to say “compartmentalize, then prioritize” to yourself (or others); this will create a new habit loop to follow the process and avoid the paralysis.   This simple hack will bring balance into your life and guide you to accomplishing more.

Go Forth and Succeed!

Craig Davis