Aug. 5, 2021

6 Ways to Boost Your Focus Without Getting Overwhelmed

6 Ways to Boost Your Focus Without Getting Overwhelmed

Okay, I have an inkling as to why you might be here. You’re here because you’re feeling overwhelmed, right? Or maybe you’re here because you get overwhelmed often and want to take the steps necessary to help prevent it? Maybe you also want to start being more productive without all the chaos? Well, my friend, you're in the right place. 

In this episode, I’ll be sharing six of my best tips for overcoming overwhelm and how you can start using those strategies RIGHT NOW. I know for a fact that when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I want quick, fast relief and I have a sense that you might be feeling the same way.

I hope that you find this episode helpful and easily applicable to anything you’re feeling overwhelmed with in your life. 


[2:54] - Overwhelm is NOT our natural state of being

[5:38] - The 6 action steps you can start taking right now to overcome overwhelm 

[11:22] - “If you want to get things done, you can’t always be available.”


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Dr. Christine Li -




Christine Li:

Welcome back to The make time for success podcast. This is Episode 34. We've all been there, we've all had too many tasks on our plate at a certain point, or we've had too little time to get the things we need to get done done. Or the things we're supposed to get done, are super important to us, and they have us feeling stressed and overwhelmed. In this episode, I'm going to review my thoughts about why we get overwhelmed. And I'm also going to offer six really great strategies for making sure we don't feel overwhelmed much, if at all going forward. Let's go listen to this episode now. Hi, I'm Dr. Christine Li, and I'm a psychologist and a procrastination coach. I've helped 1000s of people move past procrastination and overwhelmed so they could begin working to their potential. In this podcast if you're going to learn powerful strategies for getting your mind, body and energy to work together, so that you can focus on what's really important, and accomplish the goals you want to achieve. When you start living within your full power, you're going to see how being productive can be easy, and how you can create success on demand. Welcome to the make time for success podcast. In a recent coaching call with a group of my clients, the topic that emerged was how to turn feelings of overwhelm into better focus. And I thought I would share some of my comments to that group of clients with you in this episode, because I think the topic and my responses are relevant for most everyone. First, let's start by looking at what overwhelm actually is I took a moment and I looked it up using Google using Merriam Webster, and found that the definition of overwhelm is to subject to incapacitating emotional or mental stress. And just saying those words makes me stressed out, whoa. So basically, overwhelm is some form of incapacitating stress. Basically, the term can make us think of when we're in a boat, and it's all of a sudden overturned, that's actually another one of the definitions of overwhelm, to cover with a flood. So it's likely that all of us have felt overwhelmed at a certain point, maybe even recently. But when my coaching clients or my patients tell me that they feel overwhelmed, my first response is to try to get them back to themselves. I fully believe that our natural state is not one of overwhelm. So I think when people come to me, saying that they feel overwhelmed. My sense is that they're not feeling themselves that they have lost control of the boat in a way, and that my job is to support them as they just climb back into the boat and get the boat cruising as it should be. I believe we are naturally clear, calm and extremely powerful. And I think overwhelm is just a temporary Blip. So the next time you're feeling overwhelmed, just remind yourself that this is not your natural state. And that all you need to do is a few steps to write the boat. So the way that I help my clients return to themselves is by explaining that when we are overwhelmed, it's like when we experienced a trauma to our ego, our ego, which is meant to keep us doing well, coping well and surviving, feels like it's outnumbered, it's completely taken over, it cannot manage anymore. But when we're looking at our work or other non life threatening things that are overwhelming us, we have to remind ourselves that we have the opportunity to get back in the boat, and to resume the position of being in charge. We're basically going to support our ego back into calm back into focus back into not being overwhelmed. And I want to share a little bit about my own journey through overwhelm. Since I've recovered for the most part from severe procrastination and overwhelm I make it a point to deliberately steer clear of overwhelm. Almost every minute of the day. I keep reminding myself that I can figure things out. I'm in charge of how I think and how I feel. I'm in charge of my actions and I refuse to let circumstances make me feel totally incapacitated anymore. I just refuse. Why do I refuse these things? Basically, I think being overwhelmed is kind of like a huge waste of time. And I don't like wasting my time anymore now that I know that procrastination is avoidable. So even though I might have those feelings of being overwhelmed, sometimes I never allow my boat to capsize anymore. No way, no how I know that I'm the captain of the boat, and this boat is getting to its destination. And now I want to share a great list of six actions that you can implement. When you are feeling overwhelmed. I feel like each of these actions all work like a charm. So I encourage you to try one or all of them. The next time you're feeling like you can't move on anymore, you're feeling hopeless, you're feeling like you can't get through to the next point. So the first action step is to simplify. It's one of my favorite techniques for coping and doing well. In general, whenever you're feeling like you can't look at the pile anymore. Stop looking at the pile, pick one thing from the pile, you can choose randomly, that is better than being stuck and overwhelmed. It doesn't matter what you start with. But it just matters that you start so simplify. By just defining that one thing that you're going to handle. The second step that I recommend you do is to sharpen your focus. Once you have that one thing defined, start to apply your better focus do that by eliminating the distractions that are around you. Or that threatened to come onto the scene and clear your mind of those negative, pesky self critical thoughts. Oftentimes, feelings of overwhelm, are really fueled by our self critical thinking, our lack of belief in ourselves. So get rid of that kind of behavior, and restore your focus. The third action step that I suggest is to drop the perfection, you knew I was gonna say that our wish to get everything just right often makes us get almost nothing done at all. Isn't that funny. So let's stop being perfectionistic. And instead, Let's aim for just good enough. And let's aim for done because you know that done is better than perfect. And you know that when you're finished with your work, you're going to have a lot more free time to enjoy. The fourth action step is to stop searching for more options. And here I'm going to describe a story from my own past as a dissertation student a long, long time ago, my wonderful dissertation adviser Jim told me that I would have to give him a quarter. Every time I went back to the library to find more research to read for my dissertation. At that point, in our negotiation around my dissertation, I had done so much research, and so little writing, that he figured he had to give me this deal that I would have to give him a quarter every time I went back to the library, or else I would never get the dissertation done. And he was right. And because he knew me, I think he knew that I wasn't going to let go of any quarters. I wasn't going to lose any bat to anyone. And sure enough, I started writing my dissertation in earnest and of course, finished it. So from that little story, I learned that you have to call it quits sometimes in a good way. You have to say enough is enough, I have to move on. I have to let this go. I have to commit to finishing this paper, this project. This activity, we have to set limits with ourselves. In order to not feel overwhelmed, I would research that whole library I'm pretty sure of that if he hadn't stopped me from doing so. I also think that when we want to do all the options, it's kind of like going to the diner and trying to order everything on the menu. Imagine that you order the tuna salad, you order the lobster roll, you order all the soups, you order all the drinks, it just doesn't work. It's ridiculous. It's overwhelming. Talk about overwhelm that's overwhelming. So instead of trying to fit everything in and do everything for everyone, choose and pick your actions, your selections your words quickly and with much less Worry and just forge ahead, take the worry out of the equation, just choose some things, wrap it up and move ahead. The fifth action step is to work when you are most productive. I think this is actually a pretty high level technique, but it's something that really, really helps with our productivity. When we get familiar with our rhythms and cycles of our energy, our mood, and our attention, we can then plan our work for those periods of time when we're feeling at our best, it makes no sense to try to do your best work when you're just dragging mid afternoon or late at night. If that's what's happening with your energy cycles when they sag mid afternoon or late at night. Instead of scheduling for those periods, schedule your work for when you're feeling bright and shiny. When you're feeling alert. When you're feeling like they're going to be very few distractions. Perhaps that's the morning for you. Perhaps that is later in the evening for you, whatever works for you best. That's your zone, schedule your work for those zones, use the other periods to rest and to recharge. And the sixth step is to limit your availability. A while ago, my husband slipped me a post it note with this quote by Joe Phillips on it. If you want to get things done, you can't always be available. I'm sure I needed that advice in that moment. And I'm sure my husband was letting me know that I needed to just make some smarter choices about how I was using my energy. And so I'm going to share that wisdom with you here. Right now. Again, the quote is if you want to get things done, you can't always be available. So set some boundaries up, set some limits up so that you can have pure time for focus, stable, uninterrupted, comm time to just do your work without freaking out without getting into overwhelm. That quote is the truth. And we need to be reminded of that sometimes we all want to be everything to everyone in some way. But none of us can be everything to everyone. So those are the six tips that you can try on starting today. Just to recap, the first one is to simplify. Second is to focus focus better. Third one is to drop the perfection. The fourth one is to save your quarters and stop searching for all the options. The fifth step is to work when you are at your best. And the sixth is to limit your availability. Most of all, remember that you have everything you need within yourself to move away from overwhelm. You can write that boat and you can start sailing again. handle things that come your way simply and quickly. And with full belief in yourself, you will collect all the rewards when you get your work done. And when you settle all the tasks of the day. avoid procrastination whenever possible. And then rediscover how much fun you can have being active and productive and engaged in your life. I've actually put together something that I call a free resource library. And what it is is 12 of my favorite free resources to help you get started on your task in a clear, organized and focused way. There are templates in there there are planners in there, there are apps that you can download in there. So if you're interested in having a few more tools to get you out of overwhelm, please feel free to go to make time for success slash library to get the free resource library download again, it's make time for success slash library. Thanks so much for listening to this episode. I hope you enjoyed it. And make sure to join me next week. When I welcome Susan joy. to the show. She's going to share amazing insights with us into how to have stress proof, high level productivity. See you soon. Thank you for listening to this episode of The make time for success podcast. If you enjoyed what you've heard, you can subscribe to make sure you get notified of upcoming episodes. You can also visit our website make time for success for past episodes shown notes and all the resources we mentioned on the show. Feel free to connect with me over on Instagram too. You can find me there under the name procrastination coach, send me a DM. And let me know what your thoughts are about the episodes you've been listening to. And let me know any topics that you might like me to talk about on the show. I'd love to hear all about how you're making time for success. Talk to you soon.