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Go From Panicked to Productive in 4 Simple Steps

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Go From Panicked to Productive in 4 Simple Steps

There I was, sitting in the car in my driveway. The adrenaline that had kept me going all day, running from meeting to meeting, was wearing off.

My mind was The Matrix, a never ending list of letters and numbers coming together to form tasks. Every few seconds something new would slip in followed closely by a moment of panic.

With each new task, the pile was growing into a seemingly insurmountable amount of work. Work I had yet to complete. All I was left with was a pounding headache and the weight of being completely and totally overwhelmed.

For many Small Business owners this is a common no-win experience. Stress and panic, breeds stress and panic. And the only way to move forward is to halt the cycle.

For me, overcoming overwhelm is all about working my way through the next 30: the next 30 seconds, the next 30 minutes, the next 30 hours and the next 30 days.

If you can just break it down and focus on the next 30, you can handle anything.

1. The Next 30 Seconds – Happiness Hack

The human brain has trouble focusing on both positive and negative thoughts at the same time. So for the next 30 seconds stop what you’re working on.

If you’re inside get outside. Go out into the sun or the moonlight or the rain. Go for a walk. Look up at the sky, then close your eyes and listen to yourself breathe. With your eyes still closed, think of three things you’re grateful for. This is your happiness hack!

Focusing on gratitude creates positive stimuli and raises all the ‘feel good’ hormone levels. ‘Feel good‘ hormones mean happiness, motivation and productivity. Keep breathing. When you feel your sanity returning, move onto the next 30.

2. The Next 30 Minutes – Complete One Thing

When you feel a calmness returning. Go back to your desk.

Regardless of the project you’re working on. Regardless of the time frame or what’s due when, pick something on your to-do list that’s easy or close to completion. Return an email. Finalise a quote. Identify that thing you keep putting off and complete it. Stay focused on taking pride in the accomplishment and enjoy more ‘feel good‘ hormones.

If time allows repeat!

3. The Next 30 Hours – Regain Control

Sleep!

Once you’re rested, tackle your to-do list.

Unless you’re hyper organised, I’m going to guess that most to-do lists end up looking like mine did. A long list of tasks, some written down, some floating around in your head. New things added to by the hour with some older things being pushed out completely.

Pull out the calendar and prioritise your list. Set goals for the next month with timeframes and dates. And don’t play favourites! Tackling and completing your least favourite tasks goes a long way to keeping that overwhelming feeling at bay.

4. The Next 30 Days – You’ve Got This!

By now you should be rested. Stress and panic is under control and you’ve prioritised your to-do list. So the next 30 days is all about working the plan you’ve just laid out.

Start at the top and systematically work down through your list. As new tasks come up, apply a priority or a goal immediately and slot them into the calendar.

If you feel overwhelm returning, stop.

You know what to do for the next 30 seconds….

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Showing 4 comments
  • Sharon Chisholm
    Reply

    As someone who lives with bipolar disorder and anxiety, this article really struck a chord with me.

    The line “My mind was The Matrix, a never ending list of letters and numbers coming together to form tasks. Every few seconds something new would slip in followed closely by a moment of panic.” – this is the manic me – full of ideas, thoughts, tasks, never stopping, never ending, a whirlwind of everything all at once.

    It is imperative that I take control of this when it occurs and the best way I can do this is to rest – to take my attention away from work, from computers, from the TV – from everything that busies my mind.

    • Lee McCaffrey
      Reply

      Hi Sharon,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment! I love hearing that my thoughts and feelings have connected.

      Take Care,
      Lee

  • Andrew Griffiths
    Reply

    Love your article and ideas Lee! Cheers – Andrew

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