Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 5/08/2023
I’m becoming underwhelmed by “overwhelmed.” What on earth does that mean? I guess people use it meaning “overcome” with tasks, responsibilities, guilt, fear—I’ve not yet heard anyone tell me they were overwhelmed with happiness or blessings, for example. (And by the way, for the etymologists out there, “whelm” is also a word, meaning to engulf, submerge, or bury. Hence, overwhelm would seem to be an inescapable fate.)
Well, I investigated this with scores of clients globally and here’s what I found: “Overwhelm” is the result of not focusing solely on the immediate issue in front of you, but attempting to deal with it while also considering a dozen other things you believe you have to tackle. So while trying to write a three-page article you’re also thinking about rescheduling a dentist visit, collecting two past-due bills you’re owed, balancing your checkbook, and trying to discourage the in-laws from visiting when you wanted to take a long, weekend vacation.
Focus on what’s in front of you. You don’t have to finish it. Plan to complete one page of the article, or clean one shelf in the garage not the entire space, or research two possible vacation spots but not all five that have been recommended.
Overwhelm becomes a meaningless meme for procrastination, delay, and even abandonment. You’re not overwhelmed, or even whelmed, you’ve simply lost control of your time.
Schedule “chunks” of things in your calendar, put Post-It® notes on your computer, make a list on a pad. When you finish that one “chunk” then cross it off your calendar or list and throw out the computer note. That gives you a sense of accomplishment.
I wrote this, without having thought about it before, in less than ten minutes. My dogs are both in here, but they don’t need to go out or play or eat. I want to watch some tape of the Coronation later, but it can wait. I’ve already played Wordle today, and Angry Birds will come later.
The cars need washing, but the hell with it. It’s 75° right now, and I’m putting the top down on one of them and heading down the road. We’re done here.
I have never had to face anything that could overwhelm the native optimism and stubborn perseverance I was blessed with. —Sonia Sotomayor
Often I feel that projects overwhelm us when we look at how many hours are involved until completion. But just getting started is usually not that difficult. —Emily Giffin
I can’t intimidate, guilt, or overwhelm you. You allow those things to happen to yourself. —Alan Weiss