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Emotion Rules :: Overwhelm

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  • “Overwhelm is not the byproduct of having too much to do. It is the byproduct of multitasking.”
  • Overwhelm is not there simply because we have a lot to do. If you want to succeed and you want to progress in your life, you're going to have to figure out how to do more, not less. In this episode, Joey talks about Overwhelm and what actually causes it. 
  • “Multi-tasking is a myth. The mind isn’t actually doing any of those things at the same time; it’s swapping between things quickly. Overwhelm is the byproduct of trying to get your brain to do something it can’t.”
  • If you’re looking for tips on how to manage overwhelm and be present and focused, this episode is for you.
  • Watch the video to get the full training.






Full Transcript:


[The following is the full transcript of this episode of Joey’s Performance Tune Up With Joey Klein. Please note that this episode, like all episodes, features Joey speaking unscripted and unedited. This video is captured in one take.]


Hi, there. It's Joey Klein. So we're going to take a minute here and talk about overwhelm, what causes it, what to do about it. And so, so many people, they think that overwhelm is a byproduct of having too much to do. And so something that occurred to me some time ago when I was looking to train overwhelm, especially when I was building my company and I had a full time practice, a full time job. And so I was driving, I was sleeping four or five hours a night and I was just going day after day after day and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the things that I was doing, but all the things I also knew I needed to do or needed to get done. 


And so you'll notice that when overwhelm is there, there's always a list of things that you need to do or things that are happening, stuff you need to get to, and it just never stops, right? And so something I noticed is I asked myself one day the question, I go, what does the President have on his plate today? Right? Does the President have less to do today than me? Right? And I started naming CEOs of a Fortune 100 company, I think, like Elon Musk, what's he got going on today, what's his list look like today? Or somebody really famous, like an Oprah. It's like what's on her list today, right?


And I realized that these individuals seem to get a lot more done than me and they're not overwhelmed, right? Or at least they don't seem to be overwhelmed. They seem to really have it together and somehow all of this is happening. And so I thought to myself, is overwhelm really the byproduct of what I'm doing or what I have to do? And what I noticed is that it just simply isn't. Overwhelm, is not there because we have a lot to do. We all have a lot to do. And if you want to succeed and you want to progress in your life, you're going to have to figure out how to do more, not less. That's just kind of the nature of things. As we grow up and we become adult humans and we go out and we do stuff in the world, there's always more to do.


Like when you're single, there's a lot more to do when you're in a relationship because now you got to think about another person and then all of a sudden you decide to have kids and now you've got people depending on you, maybe one, maybe two. I've got friends who have five and six kids and it's like that's not less to do. That's a whole lot more to do. And then you still have a job and you still have a career that you got to figure out and there's all these things happening in the world and some more is going to happen, not less. 


And so we need to understand what is really causing overwhelm. Because when we go into overwhelm, we go into panic, we go into anxiety and we shut down. And so overwhelm is not helpful for producing extraordinary results. It's going to deter performance actually. It's going to hinder our ability to perform. And so we're doing a couple of things when overwhelm is present.  One of the things is we're focusing on all the things that we have to do, just like I said. And this is important because we can't do anything but then what we're doing in the moment. So a lot of people have this idea of multitasking. I'm going to do several things and get more done. And from a neurological perspective, that's just false. The brain actually is incapable of multitasking. 


And so what happens is we end up trying to multitask, right? Do two or three things at once. We're writing a document for work and then we're sending a text and then we're answering the phone. The mind isn't doing those three things at the same time. It's writing the email or writing up the document. And then a text message comes in and the attention goes completely away from the document to the text message. And then the phone rings and we forget about the text message that we have not yet pressed send on. And then we pick up the phone. And then we look at the phone. Then we go, oh wait, I didn't send out that text. I thought I did. And then an hour goes by and we're not doing anything effectively.


And so overwhelm often will happen when we're trying to get the brain to do what it literally can't do. And so if we're trying to multitask, overwhelm is going to be the byproduct of that. And so instead of multitasking, you want to get clear on what are the actions I need to fulfill today?  What are my actions, what are the things I need to execute on today? Take the time and do one thing and call that one thing, Create the list, create the items to fulfill on. And that's the one thing that you're doing, is organizing your list of things to do, the stuff you've got to get done that day. Don't worry about tomorrow because tomorrow hasn't come. Focusing on tomorrow is going to produce overwhelm and anxiety because you can't tend tomorrow today. All you can tend today is today.


And then after you create your list, when you're executing the items on the list, execute them one at a time. So if you're writing a document, don't answer the phone, don't send a text, just write the document. Then when you finish the document, go to the next task. When you finish the next task, go to the next task. And when the mind wants to start thinking about all of the other things you need to do, I need to pick up the kids and I need to fill out that thing and I need to mail such and such and I need to make dinner, and the mind wants to think about all of the other things that you're going to do later that you're not doing in that moment, you want to just take a moment, note, "Oh, that's where the mind's going." If you need to write it down to just make sure you capture that it needs to happen, do that. Write it down. Make dinner later or stop at the grocery store for X or whatever it might be, but then bring your attention,your focus back to whatever you're doing, right? 


You're going to eliminate overwhelm by being focused 100% on one task at a time and to truly be present with that task fully. And you're going to notice a lot of people, they get a little afraid of this at the beginning because they think if they stop multitasking or they stop thinking about the things that need to be done while they're up to stuff, they're going to become less efficient, less effective, they're going to forget stuff. But then the opposite occurs. They get ten times the amount of work done because we're not wasting time thinking about what we can't do. And so if we think about all of the stuff we need to do, and we do that for 10 seconds and then we go back to whatever we're up to and then we do it again, and then there goes another 10 seconds. All of a sudden, those seconds within an hour turn into minutes. And then those minutes can turn into several hours a day of just thinking about all the things we need to do and all the stuff that we're not going to get to and all the things we have to do and all the stuff that's happening in the future. And then it just becomes too much because we can't do it all in the moment.


And so the mind really has an orientation around what's happening right now and the brain literally can't manage several things at once. So number one, we want to focus completely on the task at hand. That's going to eliminate overwhelm and it's going to train focus, it's going to train a sense of confidence, it's going to train certainty because you're going to be certain that you can fulfill the task in front of you and that's going to lead to you fulfilling all of the things that have yet to be done. And then number two, when the mind wants to go to the things you can't tend right now, stuff you're going to do tomorrow, the things happening next month, what might happen next year, the things you need to do the day after tomorrow, right, when the mind is focusing on the things you can't handle right now, the things you can't tend right now, that's going to lead again to a sense of being overwhelmed because you can't do anything about it. You can't tend tomorrow's tasks right now. You can't tend tomorrow's task today. You can't tend next week's task today.


And so the overwhelm is created when we're essentially focusing on what we can't control, which is stuff we can't do in this moment. And so when the mind wants to focus on all the things that it needs to do in the future, go back to the task you're doing right now and just do one task at a time and you'll find that everything's going to get done. 


The final facet to overwhelm is focusing on something that we're trying to execute that we don't know how to do, that we can't do. We don't have the skill for it, right? So if I'm asked to, I don't know, write a program to run an app on your iPhone, I would feel overwhelmed because I don't know how to do that. And if I try to execute this thing I don't know how to do, overwhelm is going to come up because I'm ill equipped to execute the task. I don't have that skill set. I don't have that talent. I don't have that education to write the programming for people's apps on phones, right? I have a guy who does that that works for me, right. He is specialized in that. 


And so whenever you noticed that you feel overwhelm as it relates to a task and you know you don't have the skill set for it, you've got to recalibrate how you're going to relate to the task as opposed to focusing on, I don't know how to do this. I've never done this before. I'm out of my depth. I don't have the skill or the ability or the education to fulfill on this task. Rather than that, you're going to focus on, hey, I'm going to learn this skill .Focusing on the learning or the development of a skill as opposed to the task you must execute, because you can learn and develop a skill. You can educate yourself. You can trial and error and not feel overwhelmed by that because that's something you can do. If you focus on, I need to execute this task perfectly, and it's not something that you're proficient at yet, you're going to feel overwhelmed.


So focus on what you can execute on relative to a task at hand, or if you have something you need to fulfill on, maybe you can go hire somebody to do it on your behalf or to do the parts you don't know how to do. Again, you might be equipped to hire somebody or to find the talent as a way to fulfill the task. And so when overwhelm is there because you're faced with something that you don't have the skill or the capacity to execute, take a pause and go, okay, well, what is the thing I can do relative to the task? And then step your way through it and you'll build confidence in this space, as opposed to a sense of overwhelm or anxiety or fear. And in actuality, it can be an inspiring journey. It can actually become joyful and fun because now you're learning new things. It can be an adventure as opposed to, oh my gosh, what am I going to do? And then we just freeze, right? Like fight or flight. We just go, my God, we just freeze up and go into a panic, right? Like, if we freeze up and go to a panic, that's not going to produce the results that we're wanting in our life. We've got to learn how to execute in a different way. 


So if we give you a quick cheat list here, if overwhelm is there, there's one of three things that tend to be happening. Number one, we're focusing on what we can't control right now. We're focusing on the future. So instead of focusing on the future and tasks that we can't do anything about, we want to bring our attention back to the thing we're doing right now and put ourselves fully in what we're doing in this moment. 


Number two, we're focusing on tasks that we are ill equipped to manage, right? We don't have the talent yet. We don't have the education. We don't have the expertise to manage those tasks. And so in those instances, we don't want to focus on executing perfectly or doing it really well. We want to focus on what we can do, hey, I can learn how to do this. I can educate myself. I can try and learn through that failure and then and then do it again, right? And so we're going to focus on the learning process. We're going to focus on trial and error. We're going to focus on hiring somebody, searching for help. We're going to focus on the thing we can do and that we are equipped to do, as opposed to getting obsessed about the facets that we can't do, right?


And then finally, overwhelm is caused by multitasking, trying to get the brain to do what it literally is incapable of doing. It's not designed for that. It can't do multiple things at once. It's going to switch from one thing to another to another. So take some time. Make your one thing, building out your actionlist, your tasks that you're going to fulfill on. And then after you name the things you're going to do that day, or maybe for just that hour or two, then go ahead and just focus on the list and execute those items one item at a time. And again, that's going to translate to a sense of confidence, a sense of inspiration, a sense of joy, sense of adventure. And now, all of a sudden, we become literally 10 times to 100 times more effective at what we're able to fulfill and accomplish.


The world's highest performers execute in the way that I'm sharing with you right now. And so think of overwhelm as just a little sign, a little communication, a little whisper, a little reminder to focus on what you're doing and focus on what you can execute as opposed to worrying about perfection, how it may go wrong or the things you're not yet capable of doing.