Feeling Overwhelmed?

Considering our current situation with Covid, political divide, and a host of other issues with out world it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Do you ever feel there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. A quick search in Google will give you tons of experts and companies selling you solution after solution. You will find it all, scheduling hacks, project management tools, and apps galore as the solution to get it all done. Ready for the hard truth, even if you implement every good idea you come across you will still feel overwhelmed.

Is there no solution out there? There is as long as you are willing to face the truth most of us go to great lengths to avoid. You’re NEVER going to have time to get it all done you want to do.

Your problem is “too many fires.”

One of the most articulate explanations of this brutal truth comes from the excellent newsletter of author Oliver Burkeman. The latest edition kicks off by discussing a common problem in our content-mad age: You’ve accumulated so many books and articles and podcasts you want to consume that it is impossible to get through them all.

A never-ending to read list is stressful. It also tends to lead to a lot of guilt-filled flailing between options. “You can’t keep up. There is no way. And trying to keep up will probably just make you dumber,” cautions educator and author Kathy Sierra in a classic post on dealing with information overload.

Commentators such as Clay Shirky claim the root cause of this stress is “filter failure.” You just need to find better ways of mining the nuggets of gold from the internet’s infinite pile of possibilities. Burkeman disagrees.

The problem “isn’t filter failure. It’s filter success. In a world of effectively infinite information, the better you get at sifting the wheat from the chaff, the more you end up crushed beneath a never-ending avalanche of wheat,” he writes. As media critic Nicholas Carr has put it, you’re not struggling to find a needle in a haystack. You’re staring at a haystack’s worth of needles.

The Solution

“The only way to deal with a too-many-needles problem is to confront the fact that it’s insoluble — that you definitely won’t be fitting everything in,” Burkeman concludes. “You have to take a stab at deciding what matters most, among your various creative passions/life goals/responsibilities — and then do that, while acknowledging that you’ll inevitably be neglecting many other things that matter too.”

Now you might be asking how to I figure out what matters most. I would highly recommend reading the book, The Values Factor by Dr. John Demartini and taking his assessment to determine what you value most.

Giving up on getting it all done is liberating. “There’s no point beating yourself up for failing to clear a backlog (of unread books, undone tasks, unrealized dreams) that it was always inherently unfeasible to clear in the first place,” Burkeman notes. It is also terrifying. Like Steve Jobs looking himself in the mirror every morning and reminding himself of his own impending death, facing up to the hard limits on our time and energy is as terrifying as it is energizing.

Face this difficult truth, however, and you’ll free yourself from the guilt of not getting everything done and force yourself to make the hard, values-led choices that lead to a life well lived. And that beats every calendar hack and productivity app in the world.

Hope this helps get you more control in your life. Take the assessment from Dr. Demartini to determine what is your top value will help determine where to start.

Good luck!

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