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5 Tips to Overcome Procrastination and Overwhelm

Do you ever feel like there is so much going on in your head that you can’t focus? When you do try, do other things jump into your mind, distracting you? On those occasions do you notice that you don’t get anything much done? Do you experience mounting anxiety and frustration as time slips away and deadlines are creeping ever closer? Can this lead to overwhelm? When this happens do you ever feel like putting it off (procrastination) and writing off the day only to feel guilty for not sticking at it?

I hear these scenarios often from my clients. We explore strategies to overcome these feelings of overwhelm. We discuss how lists can help to prioritise what needs to be done. Clients discover better ways of working either to prevent these situations from occurring at all or to stop them developing and getting out of control.

I actually experienced just this scenario myself recently. As the weekend progressed, more and more things were cropping into my mind that I needed to deal with on Monday morning. By the time I reached the working week I was in a real panic. I had all these deadlines to make. As soon as I settled down to doing one thing, other important things jumped into my mind and took me away from concentration and focus. It spiraled into an ever- descending pit. Only when I calmed, centred and disciplined myself to focus on one task at a time did the flow and productivity return. Then the to- do list whittled down nice and fast as Monday progressed.

Based on discussions with clients and my own personal experience here are some tips to break the cycle of stress, anxiety and distressed thinking that can come from feeling overwhelmed and having too many thoughts in your head.

  1. Awareness: begin to notice the signs. You will have very particular clues that will tell you that you are reaching overwhelm. These might be: feelings of panic or frustration; having so many thoughts in your head vying for attention that you can’t focus or concentrate; chopping from one task to another as you realise yet another job you need to finish; mounting anxiety; realising that you are losing your calm and not recognising why; tension in your neck, shoulders, chest, back and stomach or combination of these; you are short tempered and snapping at colleagues, family and friends; you are agitated and over active or conversely lacking in energy. There could be many signs. What are yours?
  2. Choice: now that you are aware, you have choice. Will you choose to continue on this trajectory or will you change course and take control? For some people this cycle of mounting anxiety becomes addictive. There is something thrilling about the drama even though you know it is neither productive nor good for your health. Awareness is always the first step. Will you decide to stop the spiral of anxiety, doubt and frustration and take action towards calm, confidence and focus?
  3. Action: do something to break the cycle. Here are some ideas: make yourself a hot drink; go for a walk; workout; have an unrelated conversation with a friend or colleague; make a list and prioritise; do something else that is completely unrelated; discuss the situation with a friend or colleague who is willing to listen; position your body in a way that brings it to centre so that your posture improves, your breathing slows and your mind calms. Find the ones that work best for you. Your mind is feeling a bit dazed. Like a cat stalking a large flock of pigeons, it doesn’t know which one to focus on. It might try and pounce on one. It will never succeed. Only by focusing will the cat have any chance of success. Your mind is the same.
  4. Prioritise: start the focus process by prioritising. If you haven’t already done so, write a list of all the things that need doing and then prioritise each one, the most important and urgent first and the least important and urgent last (or even cross it off the list!!!!). There is a lot to be said for lists. The very act of writing them down literally gets them out of your head and onto the page. Then, your mind no longer has to “hold” the ideas and is free to let it go and focus on one task at a time.
  5. Focus: pick one thing and complete it as fully as you can. If your mind throws up another thing on your to do list, add it to the list and let it go. Discipline yourself to stay with it. Feel your mind calm and your attention focus on the job at hand. Tick or cross off the jobs as you do them and congratulate yourself every time you manage to complete a task.

Like a cat stalking pigeons, it doesn’t know which one to focus on.

One reason why you might find yourself in this situation time and again may be because you have the habit of procrastination or you bury your head in the sand. I am a sucker for that one myself. I know it leads to trouble for me later down the line, but when there are jobs I fear I cannot do, I believe they are hard or even just boring, I’ll put them off. Then they pile up and that overwhelming feeling starts to appear.

I’m learning through experience that this is not the strategy to have. It is important to do the important things and give yourself time and space to do them well. Some things crop up and are urgent, but generally if you can deal with the important stuff early you do not have to rush to get it done last minute. If you take the time to become aware of the strategies that truly work for you, you will feel inspired to act in a way that supports this awareness.

In short, your creativity and productivity work best when you are calm and relaxed. When there is the pressure to get things done and produce material, this pressure acts as an inspiration for productivity when you are calm and relaxed. It is a delicate balance of inspiration that does not fall into overwhelm. When you are tense and anxious your creativity cannot flow.

In anxiety, your whole nervous system (Sympathetic Nervous System) works to shut your body down. In relaxation and flow, your nervous system leads you to open up, productivity and creativity (Parasympathetic Nervous System). It is like a light switch. Either one is switched on or the other. Either you are in fight or flight (stress response) or you are in rest and digest (relaxation response). One is conducive to saving your life, the other to creativity and productivity. Overwhelm and agitation are symptoms of the stress response. If you use these tips and fine tune them in a way that works best for you, you will move into rest and digest and your calm, relaxation, creativity and productivity will soar.

Over to You

Do you experience overwhelm?  What sort of situations do you find overwhelming?  When you experience overwhelm, do you procrastinate and feel anxious?  How does procrastination work for you as a strategy?  What strategies do you use to overcome overwhelm?  Or do you feel powerless to change the feeling of overwhelm?

Pass it on

If you found this article useful and know people who might find it valuable, please send the link on to them.  Also, please share the content on social media.  If you’d like to discuss with me how we might work together to help you stop reaching overwhelm and therefore be more productive and creative why not e-mail me at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk?

The Power of Yes

When you say “yes” to things that empower, you are saying “I am worthy” and “I believe that I am good enough”.

Yin  and Yang of ” Yes” and “No”

This month’s blog is about “yes” and the power it can have in our lives. Everything works in balance. Last month’s blog we discussed “no”. Each time we say “no” to something we are also saying “yes” to something else. This balance is brought to light by Yin and Yang, the ancient Taoist concept of balance. It also illustrates how the birth of something is rooted in its opposite. “Yes” and “no” are an ideal example.

The Power of “Yes”

The things we say “yes” to have the potential to enhance us, diminish us and hold our lives in stagnation.

Stagnation

Very often we will say “yes” to things that keep our lives on the same path. We choose to do the same things, go to the same places, learn ideas that agree with our world view and mix with the same people. There is nothing wrong with this. It may be very powerful and rewarding to do things like this that keep us moving forward. It is when we stagnate that these things no longer serve us. This may be because we may be afraid to change. We choose to say “yes” to them to stay comfortable and unchallenged.

Actions that diminish us

We may say “yes” to things that diminish us because we think we are unworthy or undeserving. We may have that cigarette or that ice cream that we know are bad for our health. We’ll have them anyway even though it engrains habits not supportive of our health, dreams and success. This sabotaging behaviour can be tackled head on with coaching, supported by a strong and clear vision of goals. Saying “yes” to friends and family that do not support our growth can also be a challenge to our success.

Behaviour that empowers us

It is when we say “yes” to success that life moves into fulfilment and purpose. When we say “yes” to health and wellness we say “no” to cigarettes and cream cakes. When we commit to family we take time to be with them, nurture them and grow with them and “no” to always prioritising other things. This consistent and persistent behaviour moves our lives towards success the way we choose to define it. With that clear focus we can sometimes deviate from the path chosen. When we do we do so mindfully and we are not deviated from our overall goals.

Authenticity

There are times, however, when you say “yes” because you feel you should or perhaps because you can’t say “no”. Therefore you do not experience the power of an authentic “yes”. Neither does the person you are saying it to.

You may also feel disempowered by saying an unauthentic “yes” trapping you into a series of activities that feel progressively less comfortable and pleasing to do. You squirm as you do each thing wishing you hadn’t said “yes” in the first place.

I have been guilty of saying “yes” simply because I do not want to let people down by saying “no”. I have hoped people will like me for saying “yes” to every request. I used to get roped into things that I didn’t want to do, resenting myself and others as a result. It was really stressful.

The Power of “Yes”

When I began to say an empowered and confident “no”, I had found self respect and could tell people respected my answer. They do not like me less or think less of me. People appreciated the honesty. I was saying “yes” to my own boundaries, self respect and well- being. I could relax into myself and felt more confident.

Saying “yes”‘ is also about you. When you say “yes” to things that empower you it sends a strong message to your psyche. It says “I am worthy” and “I believe that I am good enough”.

Over to You

The next time you have choice, think about what you are saying “yes” to. Is this serving you? Could there be a better way? Are you thinking about the bigger picture if your life context and what you like to achieve? If so does it make it easier to say “yes” with confidence, power and authenticity?

Pass it on

Will you say “yes” to passing this blog on to someone you know? It may get them thinking about what choices they are making and what direction they’re taking. Who knows where that might lead?

Read more

Stressing Relaxation- the benefits of daily relaxation strategies throughout the day

Silhouette of father and son walking on pier holding hands with sun in background

Perhaps the answer is to build relaxation into every day and throughout each day as a habit?

Stressing Relaxation

Relaxation is really important. How much value do you put on relaxation? What time and effort do you allocate to relaxing? Is your life an endless scramble to get things done and move on to the next thing? Do you ever stop and smell the roses, taste the air or stop and enjoy peace and quiet?

Now or Never?

It seems that we are waiting for the right time to relax: evenings, Saturdays, Sundays, bank holiday weekends, short or long breaks away. Because we tell ourselves we can recuperate at a later date, we drive ourselves to go flat out for as long as it takes.

Yet will that date ever come? The truth is as a culture, we do not even relax during these opportunities. We work evenings and weekends, worry about work and what is going on at home while we’re on holiday, continue getting less than our allocated hours of sleep and remaining connected through mobile devices to a global internet community.

A Curious Case

With all this 24/7/365 distraction it is no wonder our physical, emotional and mental health is deteriorating. We find it harder and harder to relax, unplug and enjoy the simplicity of a well prepared meal, a good conversation, quiet moments with oneself or pottering in the garden. 

As well as affecting health, well- being and relationships, our distracted habits are making us generally less productive, creative and focussed than ever before.

The Answer is Starring you in the Face

What can we do to redress this unbalanced situation? How much better do you feel after a holiday when you have totally unplugged and slowed down? After a spa day, how much more relaxed, rejuvenated and centred do you feel? Hopefully, your answer to those questions is “loads more”. If relaxation is something we only do on holiday (perhaps?), we are building up the habit of fast, busy living for the majority of the year. In the face of getting more done, we work longer hours and more days with inferior results. I heard in a recent webinar that we are 18 times less productive now than we were a century ago!

Perhaps the answer is to build relaxation into every day and throughout each day as a habit? Create routines and rituals that get you thinking about other things than work and social media. Prepare meals and eat them leisurely either alone or with company. Sit and listen to music or read a book. Stretch. Talk with friends face to face. Meditate. Swim in a river. Walk in nature. Take time to breath deeply and relax throughout the day. Spend a couple of minutes thinking about what you are grateful for. These are just suggestions. Find out what works for you.

Benefits of Relaxation

The truth is, when we are relaxed, we are more confident, productive, creative, resilient, self-aware, pleasant to be with, kind, healthy, generous, authentic and so much more like the best version of ourselves. It feels right. Yet our life styles point to ever more things to do and less and less relaxation. 

There is a tipping point for each of us that can lead to diminished physical, mental and emotional health and well- being. We have the ability to create an exceptional life- relaxation is key. 

Perhaps it is time to take control of our own relaxation. Find the balance point between sufficient rest and productivity, quality of life and meaningful work, enjoying our success and celebrating the gift of life that is our birth right. 

Over to you

What do you do to relax? Do you struggle to make time to rest? How is your quality of rest and relaxation? What do you call rest and relaxation?

Pass it on

If you found this article useful, I’d really appreciate it if you passed it on to someone who would benefit. Relaxation is an essential part of growing confidence from the inside out. If you’d like to know more about confidence and relaxation please get in touch. You can also sign up to the free confidence e- course for here. 

A Healthy Way to Success

Build new habits into your life gently

Build new habits into your life gently

You’re serious about your health

Every time you attempt to lose weight you manage it for a while, and then the weight returns as you return to old habits and patterns.

You want to get fit. Each time you set time aside you find something more important or pressing to do and the work outs rarely if ever happen.

You’re aware that you eat too much sugar and fats and not enough fruit and vegetables. Perhaps you know you drink too much alcohol for a healthy, balanced life style.

It can be a challenge to find the mind set that makes the change in behaviour stick and consistently move you towards a healthier and fitter life style.

The All or Nothing Mind Set

Very often we diet and exercise in a compulsive way. We deny our self certain foods like chocolate, biscuits and cake and over load on others like fruit and vegetables and wholemeal this and that. We set our self a punishing exercise regime thinking ‘no pain no gain’. This works for a time and often not for long. The reason I believe is because we are still acting within the confines of the ‘binge culture’.

Just as we binge eat and drink, we can binge exercise and work, binge TV and computer/ on- line gaming, going over- board without a sense of continuity and longevity. We run the risk to burn out, living to excess. With this mind set there is no hope of sustainability. We may get fast results, without a hope of keeping it up.

Slow and gently does it

What has worked for me is a slow and steady mind set. Change your diet step by step, gently reducing the intake, the sugars, the fats and slowly increasing the fibre, the fruit and vegetables and more healthy meats and fish. Alter your exercise habits piece meal- increase the duration, regularity and intensity slowly over time. I am a martial arts instructor and I do this myself- if there is something I cannot do I build up to it until I can. It may take years. Often it doesn’t. I am not gifted, I am not special. This attitude works for all my students. It will work for you.

When we are looking to break habits, we are looking for sustainable change. We want quick results so we blast it. It shocks the body so we are forced to push through, focussed and committed until something distracts us and we take our eye off the ball.

Slow and steady is more gentle. We may get distracted- that’s to be expected. New habits become engrained and we can more easily reintroduce them when we are side tracked.

Over to you

Try it. I’d love to hear about your results. It will work with anything. You will want a healthy dose of patience and a commitment to change. Be gentle- it is the way nature works and the key to uncovering your potential is all aspects of your life.

Would you like to join and expand the community?

If you found this article useful and interesting please pass it on to other people you think would be interested and spread the word.  I would really appreciate it.  And if you are new to Potentiality Coaching, why not sign up to the e- mailing list at https://www.potentialitycoaching.co.uk/ and get an e- mail straight to your in box when I post my monthly blog and be first to hear about news, information and insights at Potentiality Coaching.  I’d love to have you be part of the community.

Breaking Habits

Habits are entrenched behaviours- we are simply digging holes for ourselves.

Habits are entrenched behaviours- we are simply digging holes for ourselves.

Habits can be tough things to break.  We make New Year’s resolutions and have tossed them away by the middle of January.  We resolve to lose weight or give up smoking.  Then stumble under the insistence of cravings or peer group pressure.  We try the same methods over and over again.  Confident that THIS time we have the resolve, the commitment and the desire.  It was Einstein that said that foolishness is doing the same thing time and again and expecting different results.

So let’s start by dispelling a few myths about habits that might make it easier to understand what is happening and therefore empower you to greater success.

Habits are entrenched behaviours and like any hole it takes time to dig it.  The longer you dig it the deeper and wider it becomes.  Every time you repeat your entrenched behaviour you are working to make the hole a little larger (like our little friend here in the picture).  I have struggled all my life with being over- weight.  It was not until I received a real health scare that I forced myself to look at the reasons behind my over- eating. Boredom was the main culprit.  A habit that had developed from childhood of reaching for food when I was at a loose end.  Mostly during adverts or waiting for something to start like my workout class or a meal!!!!!!

Mind- Framing

Before then I had tried to lose weight, and had framed it around eating less.  My mind- set was one of denying myself, scarcity, negativity and incredibly difficult to sustain.  What worked for me was framing it around better health.  A much more positive mind- set built around empowerment.

I educated myself about the healthy things I could eat, reducing cholesterol, paying attention to levels of saturated fat in food and recognising the craving for food when I had a gap in my day. That was the hardest part, made easier by my commitment to healthy living. I did not want to have the heart attack my elder brother had had and have stents fitted to keep me alive!!!

A Little Self- Compassion

Over time, I have dug myself another hole- new entrenched behaviour based upon positive, healthy living.  Every shovel- full of earth from this new hole goes to fill in the old one, reaffirming every success.  I congratulate myself on feeling lighter, more revitalised and energised, more productive and generally fitter and healthier.  It also allows me to have compassion for myself when I go back to the old habit.  It’s a huge hole that I sometimes fall back into.  This gets me back to my new mind- set quicker and easier, without the baggage and chastisement that used to go with the odd trip up.

Shifting Mind Set

In this world of instant access, we are used to having things now.  Habit breaking does not work that way- it takes time and effort.  A slow gradual process of unlearning the old habit and entrenching a new habit that is better for your health, productivity, career prospects, personal development and progression is the only sure- fire way.  It requires a shift in mind- set and life- style choice.  The feeling of empowerment and success when you achieve your goals is second to none. Good luck and I hope this helps to break the habits that may be barriers on your road to achieving your goals and dreams and fulfilling your true potential.

Over to you

What entrenched behaviour have you overcome?  What habits are you struggling with?  How have you achieved success in breaking habits?  Do you have any tips that would help others overcome habits that limit their potential?  If you do, please post them in the comments section below and help build an on- line resource to empower people to achieve their full potential.

Why not………..

If you found this article useful and interesting please pass it on to other people you think would be interested and spread the word.  I would really appreciate it.  And if you are new to Potentiality Coaching, why not sign up to the e- mailing list at https://www.potentialitycoaching.co.uk/ and get an e- mail straight to your in box when I post my monthly blog and be first to hear about news, information and insights at Potentiality Coaching.  I’d love to have you be part of the community.