How to Beat Overload

Most of us feel that experience we call ‘overwhelm’ at one time or another, and more so as life seems to keep moving at a faster pace. Here’s a look at how to manage those experiences and have a little more energy for your self. It’s a little play with submodalities, the “molcules of meaning” in our imagination. Nice.

Oh, naturally we go into this is some detail in both our Portable Practitioner Program, and the Fundamentals of NLP. You can find out more about them here.

Tom Dotz

How To Beat Overload
By Tom Hoobyar

Article Word Count 1294, average reading time 5.2 minutes.

This week’s Tip deals with time – and time is going too fast anyway, so I’m going to take up a little of yours by telling you how to get more out of it. You should really profit from the time you spend reading this.

So first, here’s the Tip: how are you enjoying your experience of time these days?

Many people in my life are going around with lists of To-Do’s buzzing in their heads and never enough time to get everything done.

My wife Vikki has a chronic complaint – “I have too much to do.”

She has good reason for feeling this way, taking care of our house (and me), operating a fully booked psychotherapy practice, taking care of a couple of grandchildren for some time each week while making time to see the others, and having a personal life.

I take care of fewer people than she does, and I still feel like there’s too much list and too little time.

Anyway, Vikki and I discussed this when we were in Reno visiting family a week or so ago, and my daughter chimed in, “Me too!”

Well, she’s a working professional, and the mother of two daughters, so it’s easy to see how things could pile up for her.

Then I said something REALLY stupid, and got my head handed to me by both of the “women in my life.”

I said “Well, everyone gets the same 168 hours in a week, and some make it work and some get overloaded.”

“What do you know, you don’t change the diapers and go to the schools to meet the teachers and shop for dinner and ………..!”

Whoops. Right. I don’t do most of the stuff they do.

But hey, I still hit overload myself, as demonstrated by the fact I’m writing this in one sitting after being up for 22 hours, following 4 intense days (I woke up this morning in South Florida, and when this is done and I’ve unpacked I’m going to bed. In California).

So to be useful I worked with my wife and daughter and we “unpacked” the experience of being overloaded.

This is what I thought you might find useful.

When I questioned each of the women I got a description of what goes on in their heads when they think of everything that they have to do. It was a little bit different for Vikki than it was for my daughter, and when I studied my own inner experience, it was a little bit different from the two of them.

But ALL THREE OF US had a lot in common.

So let’s do an experiment — go inside and really examine what you experience when you feel the tasks are overflowing the time available.

How do you know when you’re overloaded???

Don’t just say “That’s dumb! I have too many things on my list, and the buggers keep reproducing in the dark! The list gets longer faster than I can check them off!”

Okay. You’re a little frustrated. So let me share with you what we found out about ourselves, and maybe that would be useful in your situation.

When I asked Vikki, she said that she saw oversized playing cards covering the space in front of her, like on a transparent wall, and they were all flickering and waving back and forth in their places, like they were competing for attention. So no matter what she was trying to do, competing tasks and priorities kept distracting and pressuring her.

My daughter Tracy, on the other hand, saw a room with papers overflowing all the surfaces, tables and chairs and on the floor – she said you couldn’t even walk into the room in her mind, it was so cluttered.

I see movies – but on lots of screens, like in the window of a TV store. Each one is a movie of something bad that might happen if whatever needs doing doesn’t get done. Here’s an example of how the movie might look. If the task is doing taxes, the movie might be of my opening a notice that my bank account was attached because I didn’t do the taxes right, or on time or something. Another movie might be of someone looking disappointed because I didn’t do something I was going to do for that person. Or an overgrown yard. Or an auto breakdown. See, I know how to have a good time!

But the thing is, for all three of us, that we had each invented a way (unconsciously) to represent all of the tasks competing for our time and attention — and THEY WERE ALL JUMPING UP AND DOWN IN OUR FIELD OF VISION ALL THE TIME!

Wow. No wonder we each felt distracted, tired and overloaded.

So here’s what we worked out:

Vikki found that she could imagine that the cards with each task were in a pile, with the most important task in front. Her mind seemed comfortable with that, because it “knew” that the other tasks were right there, in the pile in front of her. So whichever task she needed to do next would be in the front of the pile, which let her relax and focus on doing one thing at a time.

Tracy found that she could imagine that all the clutter in her imaginary room was in neatly labeled boxes on shelves or in files in the file cabinet. Then, she took a spiral notebook and wrote down all the things she needed/wanted to do. Once they were written down she could prioritize them, and give them numbers. Then she did them one at a time with ease.

Funny thing, I just called her to get her permission to share this with you, and she told me she has adopted the spiral notebook idea in real life, and was telling me how much easier it was making things for her.

I took all the TV screens with the movies on them and did pretty much the same thing that Vikki did. I turned them all into plasma flat screens first of course, then put them in a pile, front to back, with the most important tasks (like this Tip sheet to you tonight) in front, then immediately behind this one, for instance, is the movie about me unpacking and putting the stuff for the dry cleaners in a pile by the door so I can drop them off first thing in the morning, then the notes for my 9AM conference call, etc.

Whew. All three of us had different ways of making our lives miserable, but they were all similar. And, all three of us found, in the last week, that we were more motivated and life seemed to be a little easier.

So, how about you? When you’re feeling overloaded, why don’t you take a minute and just go inside and notice how your brain is signaling you that there is too much to do?

What’s going on inside your head? Believe me, it’s worth figuring out — it doesn’t take long and once you know what the “magic signal” is, you can change it like we did, so that your mind is satisfied that nothing is going to drop off your list, but you only need to see and think of one task at a time.

That’s the key, so play with this and see what works for you. It will reward you with an immediate jump in peace of mind, and probably you’ll be more motivated to do what you decide to do without making yourself miserable in the process.

Tom Hoobyar

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