To celebrate 100 episodes of our podcast, we’re opening up the box for all of February. Join for free, try it out, no credit card required, no pressure, just coworking :) Come see what happens on the other side of finished. Use code ‘100’ at checkout.

Listen to This When You Feel Overwhelmed

February 1, 2023

The world can be overwhelming.

We’re constantly being pulled in a million directions, and it’s only going to get worse.

In a world that sells us on doing more, better, faster, and at scale; how do we keep from spiraling out of control?

So much of what we’re sold online is about planning, strategizing, and thinking. How can we avoid the dark abyss of inaction that often follows?

Half the battle is NOT doing that thing, but instead doing the same thing you’ve been doing, over and over.

The most valuable future skill will be focus. Most other skills won’t work well without it. 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone and it’s not slowing down.

Listen to this when you’re feeling overwhelmed.



Bill 0:01
Hey, miles. Hey, Bill, you ever feel overwhelmed?

Miles 0:07
Quite often?

Bill 0:09
Do you feel overwhelmed right now? Kind of, you know, I was just talking to somebody and we went out, especially whenever I come off a break, whether it’s holidays or you know, a vacation, which doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I noticed when I get back to work it just seems like a onslaught, it just seems like a landslide like a pile that I can never possibly get through. And I start to get a little spinny. What happens to you when you feel overwhelmed?

Miles 0:51
To keep it short? I shut down. Yeah. So procrastination is one thing. I’ll find myself doing other things, like cleaning the house or something random, instead of chipping away at that, you know, pile of work or whatever it is. And then yeah, I’ll get in my head. It’s not it’s not pretty, it’s not fun.

Bill 1:19
Yeah, it doesn’t feel good. What do you do about it? Well, are you like what works for you?

Miles 1:31
Journaling is step one. Because I can feel when that vicious cycle is starting in my mind, of overwhelm. And I know because I’ve done it enough times. Now I finally think I’ve learned my lesson, that it’s always worse in your head. And there’s this like cycle that happens where it just spirals out of control. And you can go the other way, and get it back down to a normal neutral level. And then act from there. So journaling, meditation, you know, like really go heavy on the meditation in the mornings, slowing down your energy, and your mind. And then ultimately, doing taking action, getting some movement. That’s what so

Bill 2:24
when you take that first step of journaling, is there anything specific? Is this a brain dump? Is it just whatever’s there?

Miles 2:34
It’s typically a brain dump. Usually, I’ll start with the negatives, like whatever is plaguing my brain, in my mind at that moment, just brain dump that, but I will also end on like, either some positives, like gratitude, stuff I’m excited about. And then, if I have a plan, that’ll that’s what I’ll end on to because usually, when I actually line out each thing that I have to do, it’s not that big of a deal,

Bill 3:05
right? Well, you just tripped onto something really good there. I know, this works for me, and I’ve done it with, literally, I’m not kidding, hundreds of clients at this point. When the overwhelm monster takes you over, the first thing I have anybody do is just, I know it sounds remedial, make a list. Write it all down. When I’m overwhelmed, it’s because I’m trying to keep it all in my head. Yeah, all the things there are to do and a new one pops up and a new one pops up. As a matter of fact, you and I have been. We’ve been online together here for a little while, recording episodes and talking with each other. I’ve already written down to other to do things while I’m here. Because if I do that as they pop up, then I don’t get overwhelmed. I’m not trying to keep it in my head. Right. And inevitably, every time I do that, I have the same experience you just talked about where I look at the list. And I’m like, Oh, that’s not so bad. And there’s things on the list that maybe I look at, and I go I really want to do that one. Great. I’m not going to do that one. Do the ones I can just knock out and you get a little movement. Right. And we’ve talked about movement before you get a little movement, and then it all feels better.

Miles 4:30
I think this also works in the area of if you have a big project.

Bill 4:38
Yeah, that can be overwhelming, right? Whether that’s doing your taxes, or whether that’s a project for work, or a personal project you want to do it could even be you know House Project sometimes if you can take what Whoever that the bigness of that project is and chunk it out into small bits. Small, digestible eatable. Moves boosh, you know, bites, then it’s no big deal, you just you just do one, you just do whatever the next one is.

Miles 5:21
If you simplify that even more if you’re feeling really overwhelmed, break it down and then just what is or you don’t even have to break it down. What’s the first thing you could do? Right? Anything that will stop you could take Yeah, right, because that’ll that’ll often just get you’ll see the path at that point. And it won’t be as hard to take the next step.

Bill 5:45
Even just making list is a is actually an action step towards getting stuff done. It’s not that people think it’s not connected sometimes to actually getting stuff done. But it is because it gets you moving, it’s actually doing something as opposed to just letting your brain go crazy and run the show and keep you from doing anything at all.

Miles 6:06
You gave me a visual of like, if I was in the room with you, and I was handing you like a basketball. And then I handed you another basketball. Then I handed you like two baseballs and like five golf balls, like eventually you would drop them off, right? Instead of like, Hey, Bill, here’s a basketball to baseball is a bunch of golf balls in this pile right here. Like nice and organized. I’ll put the basketballs here, I’ll put two baseballs here. Here’s a golf ball. Here’s a BB pellet. Take Take this and start start with that.

Bill 6:44
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I love it. I think that’s, that’s huge.

Miles 6:50
So So what is the like? What is the feeling of overwhelm? What is what is the emotion of overwhelming the body? I’m curious because it is made up like, yeah. Why is it that once we’re doing things, we don’t feel overwhelmed,

Bill 7:07
I think for me, overwhelm shows up a couple of different ways. One, and sometimes it’s all of these at once. There’s certainly some level of anxiety. You know, however anxiety presents in your body maybe tightness in my chest or my when it when it gets into that resignation phase where I just don’t want to do anything at all, there’s a heaviness, a tiredness that comes with that, you know, have no energy. And it triggers all of my old stuff around not good enough. And there’s not enough time there’s not enough money, I’m I’m failing, I miss, I’m that bad. Right. And that all has its own emotional component to it. It’s all very familiar. You know what I mean? Like, the feeling of overwhelm is so familiar to me now that I can go, oh, this is overwhelm, here’s what I have to do. But it can be really intense at times. How does it show up for you?

Miles 8:24
Very similar to what you said, I would say definitely the like, if I’m not using the anxious energy to go clean, or do random chores, which can be nice for that kind of stuff, but I’m clearly avoiding the stuff I really need to do. If I’m not doing that, then I’m the opposite. I’m really lazy. And I’m like, I’m just gonna, you know, lay down for a minute or watch some videos or whatever it is, and I just, like, fuck off for three hours. And the whole time I have this voice in the back of my head. Like, yeah, you your piece of shit, you should write. Why even doing this, like you should quit. You’re not good enough.

Bill 9:10
Although he brought up something interesting though. Sometimes part of my D overwhelm process is I do actually have to give myself some space. Yeah. You know, sometimes I’ll start making that list. Or before I can even make the list. I literally and this is with intention. This isn’t an automatic behavior. I’ll go okay, I’m gonna go watch TV for an hour. I’m gonna go watch one show. I’m going to come back and I’m going to make my list. And I’m not doing it because it’s like this automatic. I’m going to fall asleep now. It’s, I’m gonna go make some space in my brain. You know, shut it off. Stop doing the squirrel. Thing stop doing the hamster on the wheel. Yeah, and then I’ll come back and do what I got to do. And that could be anything for me, sometimes it’s just going in the other room, eat lunch, you know, watch, watch a show something stupid, come back, or it’s taken a walk, or it’s, you know, I know you were walking on the beach, you know, a bunch for a while. So, you know, maybe it’s that maybe it’s walk the dog, maybe it is go take a 30 minute nap. You know, sometimes if if I’ve gotten to the point where the overwhelm is crushing my brain. Okay, I’ll go take a 30 minute nap. But I do it with intention. I’m going to do this, and then I’m gonna get up. And I’m going to go back to my list, and I’m going to make my list. You get what I mean? Like, I think space and giving yourself space to deal with what’s come up, can also really help.

Miles 10:50
Especially if you’re staring at it. I mean, if I’m, you know, overwhelmed with a specific project, and I’m banging my head against it, and maybe I’m doing that squirrel thing where I’m checking my inbox, and I’m going over here, I’m kind of doing stuff that doesn’t really matter. Separation, just taking a break. And then coming back, when you come back, clear. You can close out all the tabs and just focus on the one thing, you have a have a mission. Yeah. Yeah. Sounds simple. And when we break it down like this,

Bill 11:23
yeah, it doesn’t feel simple when you’re in it. But it really is simple. So if you notice that when you notice when I noticed that I’m in overwhelm, or even that it’s starting the first place I go, I get my book, I make my list, everything I can think of. And I just keep that list going. And I just start knocking things out as I can. And then it keeps the overwhelm at bay.

Miles 11:51
I think we have to touch on one last perspective here. One last angle, which is preventative. So what can we do to keep ourselves from getting overwhelmed? Is there something we could do better around? Filling our plate? Like, I mean, I guess the obvious answer is just, you know, only say yes to the things that you have space for, and maybe a little more space than you think because there’s always less less space in there.

Bill 12:27
Yeah, I definitely fall into the category of wanting to do too many things. Having a I have a board over here, I’m not going to show you that has a lot of projects on it. Do you know Einstein’s theory of focus? Is you do one thing.

Yeah, you do one thing. And I read another thing where you kind of you do three columns, I think it was three, two or three columns. One for work one for personal. I said three, there was another one, I don’t know what it was. But let’s just say it’s two there’s, you know, one for work where you write down all the things that you all the projects that you want to do or that you have taken on or want to take on, and you start acting out the ones you really don’t need to do. And then whatever the the most important ones are in each one, you just go do that. I don’t know, if I am totally down with that or not. I like the idea of having several things going at once. While that can cause some level of overwhelm, or can also have those projects take a really long time. Kind of keeps it interesting for me. And as far as preventative maintenance, man, I’m going to sound like a broken record. But the the list the to do list is huge. For me. It’s just gigantic. And whether you do that in sort of a bullet journal format or your own way, however you do it. That’s giant for me. That’s what keeps me going. And I can look back and I can say alright, am I dropping stuff out? Do I need to move it over? I’ll go look at things that maybe I haven’t done. And go oh, you know what, I actually don’t need to do that anymore. Great. That’s off the list. But I do I fall out. There’s times where I just stopped doing it. And next thing you know, that overwhelm starts to creep up, hey, you’re missing stuff. You’re missing stuff. You’re missing stuff. If you have people you work with or business partner or anything. speak regularly. I hate to use the N word people get weird about meetings, but if you know how to do a meeting correctly, they’re great. They’re awesome. And then they’re necessary. talk through things, make sure you’re on the same page, make sure you’re not forgetting anything, get accountable, and knock some stuff out.

Miles 15:12
Yeah, just the other day, I had what I have at least once a month, maybe every month and a half, where I kind of have like a mental breakdown of overwhelm, typically, and lack of like direction. And so I asked if you had some time, and we jumped on a call, and it was like, it was just that it was, you’re able to help me get out of my head, and not feel so overwhelmed with all the different because there’s a million ways to do it. And you said this, you were like, you’re comparing yourself. And you’re comparing yourself to things that don’t even exist, like you’re making things up. So I was just in this downward cycle of overwhelm, that wasn’t doing anything for me, it was making it worse. And yeah, you’re able to just give me new perspectives. And then Rachel, I chilled out. And I changed my background to get out of your head as a nice little reminder. Yeah. You also made me think of like, so I have a few buckets. So I have my journal. And then that’s kind of like the mindset stuff, just dumping it making that list. And then I have a place where my ideas can go. So I have two different Trello boards. I have one for ideas that aren’t doing anything. You know, we have an idea every now and then. And we tell each other and then I put it into this Trello board and it sits there and it marinates and maybe it dies off. Or maybe down the road, we’ll do something with it. But it’s a channel for that to go instead of just like sitting in me and taking up space. Yeah. And then I have my other Trello board, which is for the like stuff that I am doing and actively working on. And it those are like a second brain for me. So if you can build a second brain and this one can stay empty when it needs to. Not Yes, overwhelmed.

Bill 17:12
Yeah, I mean, it’s always helpful to get things out of your head, and what I would call into existence. When it’s in your head, it doesn’t exist. It’s just noise. It’s just boop boop boop boo. So whether it’s on your to do list on your Trello board into your calendar, however, you can do it get it out of your head and into existence. And that clears up the space it stops the swirl. Yeah, and and that and all of the nasty feelings that go with overwhelm and keep you from doing anything tend to dissipate.

Miles 17:50
I love it.

Bill 17:53
Well, I guess I’m gonna go work on my to do list.

Miles 17:57
Yeah, I’m gonna go meditate.


We’ll never spam you or sell your email…do people actually do that? Unsub at any time :)

An email is on its way to your inbox from “Bill + Miles.” See you over there :)