4 Big Ideas of What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

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“Some days you will feel like the ocean. Some days you will feel like you are drowning in it.” -       Lora Mathis 

This quote reminds me of the way a felt a month ago when I was trying to deal with too many responsibilities with my family, business, financial affairs and the household chores. I finished up having a cold that lasted two weeks. 

I could give the excuse that it is winter time in Australia and it is normal to get sick, but the reality is that the feeling of too much to do was a warning sign to slow down and take things easy. 

In today's society, many of us feel overwhelmed at some point in our lives, but if we don't take care of it, in the long run, it can lead to chronic stress and health problems, which, of course, we want to avoid. We can learn to manage them more effectively.

For some of us who have been feeling overwhelmed lately, I have taken a few useful notes from The One Thing book by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan to help us get back on track.

So, when you have a lot to get done in the day, how do you decide what to do first?

Making decisions without having a precise formula, only leads us to fall back on regular, convenient ways to decide what to do. As a result, we randomly select paths that sabotage our success. 

Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority. They take their time to decide what matters most. They don't waste hours checking off a to-do list, instead of a to-do list, they focus on a success list - a listing that is deliberately designed around remarkable results. Success lists are short, organised and they guide you in the right direction. 

The 80/20 Principle says the minority of your effort leads to the majority of your results. In other words, the majority of what you want will come from the minority of what you do. No matter how many to-dos you begin with, you can always reduce it to one until you get the most critical thing. The imperative ONE - The ONE thing. 

Whenever you feel confused or puzzled, remind yourself what matters most.


1. Go small. Don't focus on being busy; concentrate on being productive. Allow what matters most to drive your day. 

2. Go extreme. Once you've figured out what actually matters, keep asking what matters most until there is only one thing left. That core activity goes at the top of your success list.

3. Say no. Whether you say "later" or "never," the point is to say "not now" to anything else you could do until your most important work is done.

4. Don't get trapped in the "check off" game. If we believe things don't matter equally, we must act accordingly. We can't fall prey to the notion that everything has to be done, that checking off our list is what success is all about. We can't be trapped in a game of "check off" that never produces a winner. The truth is that things don't matter equally and success is found in doing what matter most.

Hope you find this one section of the book informative.  In the past, we were encouraged by the time-management industry to build to-do lists methodically, only to see ourselves with a long list and getting confused as to where to start.  The four big ideas make it a lot more manageable and productive.  

Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke noted, "The things which are most important don't always scream the loudest."

To finish, please remember to look at the beauty of life in every moment. 

With much appreciation