Have you ever been overwhelmed? Of course, we all have. For this post, I am using overwhelmed as a “feeling in the mind which causes us to think we have too much to do.” There are other ways to interpret the word, such as: overthrow, cover, bury, etc. Even though I’m aware of those other interpretations, I know when I hear or read the word, “overwhelm,” I immediately think, “too much.”
So, what do you do when you have this feeling of being overwhelmed? Do you do nothing? Do you complain? Do you cry out in “mental pain?” I think if you do any of these, you are doing what a lot of people do. As I wrote the last few sentences, another word “popped – out” at me. Procrastination! It seems to me that many procrastinate because they feel overwhelmed.
Procrastination implies that a person’s behavior is counterproductive, delaying and needless. Well, when someone is overwhelmed, we often see the person satisfying that behavior. Consider a student who feels overwhelmed with the studies required by an academic course. I personally, as a former teacher, have observed such students – those who throw away applicable notes (counterproductive), do not attempt required practice work (delaying) and have another person do their practice work (needless).
Ok, this post is not about procrastination, per se, but being overwhelmed does cause us to behave in diverse ways. We need to recognize when we are overwhelmed and then find something other than procrastinating, complaining, and/or crying to help us with this negative feeling.
What can we do if “doing nothing” is not the answer? How can we get rid of the feeling of being overwhelmed and know that we are doing so in a positive and productive manner? I think we should consider being underwhelmed – expecting and doing less than we think we should do AND shorten the time we spend working on the tasks.
Take the task we are overwhelmed with and consider small manageable parts of the overall task. Consider completing the overwhelming task like the time-sharing done by computers in the 1960’s and 70’s. Take, for example, cleaning your home. If you are overwhelmed by the task of cleaning it during a single time period, then take a few minutes to clean the dishes and then later clean the floor of one room. Continue with this approach until the cleaning of your home is complete. Even if you don’t finish the dishes, you could do as many as time allows. The important thing is to not feel guilty because the overwhelming task is not completed. The guilty feeling is most likely related to the underwhelming aspect of your effort toward completing the task. But, that is a problem only if you make it so.
So, if you are overwhelmed and want a reasonable approach for ridding yourself of the feeling, then underwhelm yourself with your approach. Do a part of the task that is overwhelming you and know that you are completing the task. It’s the journey of “completing” and not the destination of “completion” that we need to feel good about.
Underwhelming yourself will not only give you an approach to ending the negative feeling of being overwhelmed, but it will also give you a positive plan to complete your task.
I look forward to your over or underwhelming comment. :-)