How to Overcome the Overwhelm

How to overcome overwhelm

As a Productivity & Success Coach I work with women who are striving to reach goals and create their version of a successful, meaningful life.  They have big dreams and ideas for what they want to accomplish in life but they don’t know how to make it happen.  When they come to me they are usually at a stand still and don’t know how to move forward.  They are overcome by overwhelm.

So what causes overwhelm in the first place?  

The main causes over overwhelm I see are: having too high of expectations, taking on too much at once, having a negative mindset, trying to do everything perfectly and trying to be in control of everything.

How to Ditch the Overwhelm

No successful person has achieved their success in a state of overwhelm.  We must learn how to overcome the overwhelm so we can achieve our goals.  Here are 5 steps I have my clients go through.  Try them out for yourself and ditch the overwhelm for good!

  1. Get out a pen and a notebook and make a braindump of everything that’s on your mind.  This often includes things that are stressing you out in life, things you want to accomplish, projects you want to do, things that need to be done.  Anything that is cluttering your mind needs to be captured on paper.

  2. Next, pick out all of the items that can be put off til later.  Make a separate list of these items and rest assured that you will get to them eventually.  

  3. Now pick out all of the items that you can have someone else do.  Maybe this person is a friend or family member or maybe it’s someone you will hire to help you.  We must come to terms with the fact that we can’t do everything ourselves. 

Being a control freak myself, this was a huge one for me to overcome.  People really do like being helpful and if you give them a chance to bring you value they really appreciate the opportunity.  This gives them a chance to use their talents and gifts in a way that helps someone else and gives them some satisfaction.  Think of it as if you’re being selfish NOT to let them help you.  

  1. Next, you can pick out the items that really don’t need to be done at all and simply delete them from your mind.  

  2. The items left on your list are things that you will need to do.  Go ahead and write this list in order of priority.  What needs to be done first, second, third, and so on.  When you become clear as to what is most urgent and important you can feel more comfortable focusing on one thing at a time.


How to Prevent Overwhelm

Every day should have a chunk of time set aside for working on these tasks.  Even 15-20  minutes can make a big difference in the course of a week.  In order to keep yourself motivated I recommend only scheduling 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) per day.  I want you to end the day feeling very productive and successful. Keeping our minds positive will allow us to move forward every single day.  We never want to start the next day feeling like we’re already behind.  

It’s also important to have weekly reflection meetings with yourself to see how much you did that week and celebrate all of your small wins.  Achieving our big goals is a process that stretches over several weeks, months and even years.  This is a marathon, not a sprint so remember the phrase, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Anytime you feel overwhelm creeping back into your mind, go ahead and do the 5-step process I outlined above.  At first you may be going through that process every day and that’s okay!  Over time you will be a pro at keeping the overwhelm at bay and you will be on your way to all the success you’ve dreamed of!

How to Use Routines to Increase Your Success

How to Use Routines to Increase Your Success

Creating routines can be a huge benefit to us when it comes to designing our ideal life because we know what we’re going to do and when we’re going to do it.  We no longer need to go through our days aimlessly wondering around.  With a properly designed routine you can get right to work and be more productive in everything you do.

 

Why Create Routines?

Routines give us a sense of comfort and predictability.  When we went to school we lived by routines every day, all day.  We had math from 9:00 to 9:50, then writing from 9:50-10:40, then recess from 10:40-11:00 and then lunch from 11:00-11:30, and so on.  The whole day was laid out before us in an extremely well-designed routine and everyone knew the expectations and could anticipate what was happening next.  

When we become adults we tend to revert to the “fly by the seat of my pants” philosophy and live a life of flexibility and freedom but I really think this is doing us a disservice.  Routines get a bad rap of being boring, confining and restrictive.  I don’t think of routines in a negative way at all.

Anyone who wants to create a more effective and productive life should consider implementing daily routines into their life or tweaking their current routines so they are more efficient.

I like to think of routines as a set of habits that are grouped together.  For example, my morning routine is just several activities grouped together and are performed in pretty much the same order every day.  

 

Morning Routines

I get up, put my workout clothes on, brush my teeth and drink a glass of water as I head downstairs to do my workout.  After my workout, I write in my journal, meditate for 10 minutes using the Calm app, and then take a shower.  Next, I prepare breakfast, get my kids ready for school and then we leave the house.  

My morning routine becomes a tool that ensures I am taking care of all the important tasks I like to do as I begin my day and it saves me so much time and energy because I don’t even have to stop and think about what I’ll be doing next.  

 

Daily Routines

Besides a morning routine, I also have an evening routine.  

Again, it’s a series of tasks grouped together in the same order and has become automatic over time.  I also have lots of other routines in my life, such as how I create my shopping lists, how I perform my house cleaning chores, how I pay bills, the order I go down the aisles at the grocery store, etc.

The more automation we can add into our daily lives, the more energy we will reserve for our creative work.  Decision fatigue can be a killer for creating a successful life.  When we overwhelm our brain by trying to decide when to do this, or when to do that we end up feeling frazzled and tired.

Imagine a day where you had to think about when to brush your teeth, which direction you will drive to work, which path you will take when you walk your kids to school.  Your brain will be so worn out it won’t have energy to write that report that’s due tomorrow or draft emails to your clients.  

The most successful people in the world live their lives in a series of routines and I think we can all benefit by following their lead.  Check out this article here
 

Weekly Routines

In addition to creating several daily routines we can also create weekly routines.  Maybe every Monday you are unavailable for phone calls so you can knock out a ton of content uninterrupted.  Perhaps you can have a routine of using Wednesdays for all of your meetings.  

The options of adding routines into your life are limitless and there is a no one-size-fits-all approach.  Try designing a few routines for your life and try them out for a few days.  If they aren’t working just make some adjustments until you find the routines that work for you.  

How to Create a Personal Mission Statement

I believe everyone should take time to write their personal mission statement.  It is your guiding light as to how you will spend your life.  Just as companies have mission statements that help them make big decisions within the corporation, you can do the same with your life. Here's how to write yours.

How to use your Values & Priorities to set your Best Goals

Do you ever think about a goal that you’d love to achieve but you’re not sure HOW to make it happen, or even IF you should make it happen right now?  

Our lives are multidimensional and have so many different aspects to them that it’s hard to know how much time we should be devoting to what and when.  We always hear the phrase “work life balance” but really, it’s impossible not to integrate both areas of our lives. Into our ONE life.   

There is no separating them.  

  EmprovedLife.com | Productivity Coaching with Emily Swanda

 

EmprovedLife.com | Productivity Coaching with Emily Swanda

Rethinking the "work-life Balance"

Some areas of life will get more attention at certain times in your life than others and as times change, your focus on priorities will also change.  Understanding what your current values and priorities are will keep you heading in the right direction…the direction that leads you to the success you want.  

When you know how to understand your values and priorities, they can help you reach your goals faster and easier.


I like to sit down in a quiet space at least a couple times a year. Preferably quarterly, to check in with myself to see if the goals I’m working towards are matching up with my current priorities and values.  

As we evolve and change throughout our lives we go through different seasons and our goals will therefore shift as well. For example, a first-time mom will have a very different set of values and priorities than a mom who just sent her youngest child off to college.  Your goals will therefor reflect these different stages of life.

 

Start Saying "No"

It can be so easy to say yes to a variety of opportunities because we want to help others but that can lead us to spending our time and energy on something that doesn’t line up with our own priorities and values.  

Don’t veer off course!  

Stay focused on what is best for you.  When you are at your best, that’s when you can give others around you the most value.  It’s so important to live your life on purpose and with intention.  

 

Schedule Your Priorities

Set a time in your calendar every 3 months to reflect on your values and priorities.  I pick December, March, June and September.  

These times match up nicely with my kids’ school calendars so I can make the necessary adjustments to my goals according to the changes in the kids’ schedule or spring and Christmas breaks.  

My business becomes less of a priority during the summer months than during the school year when my kids are in school all day.  I value the early morning sunshine and the long summer evenings and choose to prioritize that in my summer time as well. I prioritize family time more during the holiday season than during the rest of the year.  I’m sure if you look at your life you will see an ebb and flow throughout the year.  

When you think about the areas of your life where you spend the most time OR money, that gives you a pretty good idea of where you hold your current priorities.  If you are not satisfied with the priorities you’ve been living with, it’s okay to make the changes now.  Better late than never!  

 

Creating Harmony in your Life

If you want to spend more time with your kids because you say that they are your key priority, then it’s time to think about how you will readjust your schedule to make that happen.  If you value your health, but you’ve been neglecting it, then now may be the perfect time to make exercise and healthy eating a big part of your life.  

I like to use the life balance wheel to guide me through this, rating each priority on a scale of 0-10 (10 being most important).  

Keep in mind that you are not required to score high in ALL areas ALL the time.  Life is not about balance, but instead about harmony.  Some things will take more of a backseat for awhile and then it will change again.  

I look at my overall life to see how well I’m keeping it in harmony,  If at the end of my life I can recognize that I made it a point to focus on each area of the wheel for period of time, then I will feel confident that I led a full and “balanced” life.  

I encourage you to sit down and write out your top values and priorities in your current stage of life and make sure the goals you are working towards match those.  There’s nothing more frustrating than working towards a goal and still not feeling satisfied once you achieve it. These tips will help you change that, starting today. 

 

It's Time to Chunk Your Time

Are you sick and tired of wasting energy throughout your day, because you're not being productive enough with your time? Well I have the simple solution that I've been using in my life and it seriously made such a huge difference. So I wanted to share it with you today because not only will it boost your productivity, but it will also make you feel so accomplished at the end of the day.

 One Task, One Time Chunk

The idea of working in time chunks is to work on one certain task without losing focus so it can be done fast, and be done well. Many people talk about how they can multi-task, but what they don't realize is when your brain focuses on multiple things at once, it can't give quality attention to anything. If you think about it, try having 5 conversations at one time. You won't have good quality conversations will you? This is exactly how your brain feels when you are multi-tasking, because you are trying to get it to focus on multiple areas at one time.

 

 Working in time blocks is essentially taking a certain amount of time and focusing it in on one task. Then you take a break, and after your break is over you work in another time chunk focusing on a different task. I like to work in 25 minute time chunks with a 5 minute break, because then you can give your full attention to the task. I find that working for more than an hour at a time, you are more easily distracted.

 How to get started

If you are someone who wants to work in more time chunks, I would recommend starting out with making a list of tasks you need to get done in day, but rank them from most important to least important. Then you want to start out with the most important tasks first, and move forward with the tasks that aren't AS important. This will help you feel more productive as you move through the day as you've gotten the more important things knocked out of the way!

 

 You can look at the technique that I use, which is called the Pomodoro technique.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique

 Try it out!

This organized system is going to help you be more productive throughout your day and get more accomplished. Once I started implementing the Pomodoro technique into my life, everything changes as far as what I got accomplished.

How Checklists Can Help Your Success

Oftentimes in life, we have certain things that seem to be on repeat. What I mean by this is that we often have tasks that have to be done every single day. If you've got kids, then there are certain things you have to do daily like pack lunches for school and make sure they did their homework. Then there are other mundane tasks we have to do like the laundry and checking our P.O box. Through the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to get carried away by all of the other tasks that can add up and overwhelm us and we easily forget about the bigger tasks that need to be done on a regular basis.

    

If you have tasks that need done on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, then these are things that you will want to keep written down so that you can constantly check in on them and ensure you are staying on track within your progress. For instance, if you have certain things that need done every single week, then I recommend keeping a weekly checklist. Not only should you keep this weekly checklist, but you should also set time aside each week to do the things on it and make sure that they get done. For instance, you can set aside 30 minutes every single Saturday to go over the checklist. This will help you to start off each week fresh with a new checklist and you will have a sense of accomplishment at the end of each week.

 

 Using multiple checklists is a great way to ensure that you get those small mundane tasks done that are easily overlooked. I suggest having a weekly, a monthly, and a quarterly so you can get everything accomplished and stay on track. The small tasks like changing the filters in the vents of your house are really important, and if you have them written down then you will be sure not to forget them .

   

 Like I said, using checklists is a great way to ensure that you don't miss the important tasks and everything gets done that needs to. It's a small shift that can create a large impact within your life and business.

 

Task Management Systems to the Rescue!

As human beings, we are constantly given tasks that need to be accomplished in a timely manner. But how in the world are you supposed to keep up with all of these tasks and get everything accomplished. It's not easy, and having papers and sticky notes everywhere isn't the best system for everyone. If you're like me, those sticky notes get lost, the papers get coffee spilled on them, and then you end up missing half of the tasks that you needed to accomplish for the day or week. So I wanted to share with you my favorite task management systems, because these seriously changed the way my productivity was achieved.

 

Even though sometimes a notebook and pen doesn't work for everyone, it might be exactly what you need in order to achieve your daily tasks. If you're a notebook and pen kind of person, then go ahead and grab yours and get the things written down that you need. Chances are, if you're a notebook and pen person, you would also love using post it notes, to post reminders in places where you can constantly see them so that you don't forget.

 

There are two other amazing ways that are great for tasks management, and if you're a paper and pen person then you are going to love these. The first one is utilizing a planner or a calendar. There are some amazing planners and calendars out there and I would highly recommend trying these out if you like being to physically write things down. The second option is a bullet journal and these are all of the craze right now. It's no wonder they're all of the craze, because they are fun to use and help immensely with task management. You can do a quick pinterest search for bullet journals and see the great ways that you can utilize them!

 

Those of you that aren't big on pen and paper, you lose them every time you write a note, and you just need something else; I've got you covered. There is an amazing tool that I love to use called Trello-  https://trello.com/emilyswanda/recommend.  

 

You can use the link I just shared with you to sign up, absolutely free and utilize Trello to get all of your tasks on one place. My favorite thing about Trello is the fact that you can move a task once it's complete to the done section (that you create) so you can control which stage your tasks are in and what still needs to be completed.

 

Much like Trello, Asana is another task management system that is great for keeping up with things that need to be done. Asana has a handy calendar feature that is color coded and if you are working with a team on a project, you can put faces next to the tasks that need to be done. This makes it super easy to know who does what within your team. Asana is free much like Trello as well, and seems to be a great fit for those that are super detail oriented.

 Don't give up

The most important thing to keep in mind as you set up a task management system, is that it might take a few tries to see what is going to work for you and your life. Everyone is different in what works for them and so it's very important that you test out different things to see what will work for you. The entire idea of a task management system is to ensure that you don't forget things that need done. Even if you have to do something simple like call your mom and ask her a question, you can get that written down so that you don't forget. Whatever method you choose, it needs to be something you can access no matter what. So a white board nailed to your wall may not work the best, because if you're on vacation somewhere you can't take it with you, and it will completely throw off your entire system.

 The best way to use a task management system to your full advantage is to always pause when you have a thought or idea, and write it down into whatever system it is you are using. With this being said, if you've chosen a paper task management system, it's really important that you take that with you everywhere you go so that this method works the best. Now that you've started writing out all of your ideas as they come, you are now being proactive instead of reactive.

Schedule it in

 One of my favorite ways to keep up with this task management system is to schedule out a few minutes at the end of each day to go over my list and make sure that I have achieved the things that I need, and tie up any loose ends of things I may have forgotten. I then go back at the end of each week and do the exact same thing for just a little bit longer. This ensures that your to do list isn't piling up and you are scheduling out time to ensure the things get done that need to.

 Using a task management system will surely boost your productivity and take your business to an entire new level. You will love having a place to keep everything, as well as scheduled out time to get things accomplished. I know how overwhelming having many tasks can be, but having a system to get them done will erase that overwhelm and replace it with a feeling of accomplishment.

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

   

Morning Routines Are Priceless!

If you're like me, it's likely that you have one million and fifty two things on your plate that you have to accomplish on a daily basis. You probably constantly ask yourself how you're going to get everything done, and you just can't ever find that missing piece to the puzzle. After months (and years) of testing out new things, I've finally found the thing that works best for me, and that is simply setting up an effective morning routine.

 How do I start a new routine?

The first step to creating an effective morning routine is to think about the things that need to be involved in your morning routine on a daily basis. If you have children, like me, then you know that there are certain things you have to do with them every single morning. Those things are all vital to your morning routine, and should always be added in,even though they may not be the most fun parts of the day. When it comes to creating an effective morning routine, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that you need to start at the same time everyday. This is going to ensure you have a steady flow of tasks that are being accomplished and consistently done. You wake up at the same time everyday and your body knows exactly what it needs to do, because you've gotten it into a good routine.

 The SAVERS method will save your productivity!

In The Miracle Morning book by Hal Elrod, he recommends incorporating the SAVERS method. This method is silence/affirmations/visualizations/exercise/reading/scribing(journaling). For me personally, after implementing this method into my life, the effectiveness of my morning routine skyrocketed and I was more productive throughout my day because of it. Utilizing this method will also allow you to start off each day with a positive and balanced mindset, as it focuses on core mindset practices.

 

As a human, we often worry about everyone around us but then forget to give ourselves any attention. This is why so many Americans experience burnout and exhaustion, because they skip over the fundamental steps of caring for themselves. By using the SAVERS method, you can start each day of the week by caring for yourself, and therefore will feel more energized to take care of the other tasks throughout your day that need to be done.

 

Our bodies love routine and predictability, which is exactly why I love the following article.

(https://www.bustle.com/articles/148246-7-benefits-of-a-solid-daily-routine)

 Start tomorrow!

It doesn't have to be a big ordeal that you start crafting a morning routine to boost your productivity, and you could easily start first thing tomorrow morning. One of the many excuses people use is that they will start on Monday, but then somehow Monday never comes. If you find this being you, then make it a point to start tomorrow and get a jumpstart on your effective morning routine. If you're ready to take this huge step towards living a better life, then go ahead and grab pen and paper and let's take some notes. Start by simply writing out what you want in your routine. Write out when you want to wake up, how many times you will allow yourself to hit snooze (IF ANY!), what the first thing you will do when you get out of bed is, and what things you need to accomplish after that. If you're someone who is driven by to do lists that are sectioned out in time blocks, then go ahead and write all of that out. The more you can prepare the night before, the more prepared you will be the morning of and you will be setting yourself up for a successful morning routine.

 

Studies show that with the majority of humans, it takes us about 21 days to form a habit that sticks with us. So if you can create a morning routine and push through it for 21 days, then you will likely have no problem moving forward with it. That first 21 days is absolutely going to be the hardest, but when it's all said and done you will be so thankful that you took the plunge. If you find that you are too shaken by the sudden changes, then you can slowly work your way to where you wish to be. For instance, if you go from waking up at 9am to 6am and your body seems to be shocked from it, then you can slowly turn your alarm back 15 minutes each day until you get to your desired wake time. This will help the entire process of the morning routine go much more smoothly and effective.

 Final Tips

I wanted to leave you with a few more last minute tips to help you have the most effective morning routine possible.

 

1. Set out your clothes the night before, so that when you wake up, that is one less thing you have to worry about. The  easier you can make your routine, the better.

2. Put your alarm clock across the room, and don't allow yourself to hit snooze. By hitting snooze, you are setting yourself up for failure. You need to get up, wake up, and stay out of the bed!

3. Use an affirmation somewhere near your alarm. This could be a post it note on the alarm itself, or a large quote next to it that grabs your attention. Starting your day with positivity will make you more willing to get out of bed and get moving.

4. Find a simple breakfast that you love, and that is fast and easy to make. If you start your day with a huge chore like cooking a meal, not only will you be wasting time from your morning routine, but you will also be creating more chores for yourself. Start your day with something simple like overnight oats or a smoothie.

5. Reward yourself for the different milestones you reach in your morning routine. For instance, at the end of a week give yourself a small reward. Reward yourself with something bigger and bigger each week until you hit your goal. For instance, if you want to stay consistent for 3 months, plan out rewards for yourself.

 

Creating an effective morning routine can boost your productivity and the way that your life operates. The way that you start your day will set the tone for the rest of your day. So if you start your day lazy, not accomplishing anything, chances are, that is how the rest of your day is going to flow. Get your pen and paper and craft your perfect morning routine right now while you're thinking about, and start tomorrow.