Feeling Overwhelmed? How to stay calm and be productive.

Is there an Elephant in the room with you?

I was at a meeting recently with a client and as the meeting unfolded I noticed that certain words I mentioned were triggering him. He was physically shrinking, with what I perceived to be a feeling of being overwhelmed, with the daunting amount of tasks that needed to be completed. I know this feeling, oh too well!

So, what’s going on? What can we do? And, can we eat the proverbial elephant?

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. When I was getting some mental help support a few years ago I loved one of the CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) methodologies I was shown. It flips the negatives and the positive, or perhaps refocuses our attention. Well, the old method, I was told was to start with the toe 😂. Although, what happens when you can’t reach the toe because you are paralysed (crushed by the pressure). CBT isn’t just about changing our thoughts; it’s about transforming our entire approach to challenges. Instead of viewing the ‘elephant’ as an insurmountable obstacle, we can start seeing it as something manageable. This change in perspective is crucial, especially in a leadership role where decisions and attitudes impact not just ourselves but our entire team. It also allows us to find the necessary momentum to move forward.

What can we do?

Strategise to Change the Perspective on the Elephant

Strategise Your Actions for Maximum Impact: In leadership, whether its just you or you have a team, it’s not just about doing things right but doing the right things. Focus your efforts on actions that align with your core objectives and have the most significant impact on you, your team and your projects.

To start, try this approach:

  1. Identify What Needs to Be Done: Lay out all the tasks on your plate. This step is about awareness, not yet about action. Let’s pull back and see how big is this elephant, with enough of an overview, our perspective changes and we can begin to see the elephant for what it is.
  2. Conducting a Strategic Review: Regularly assess your current tasks and projects. Determine which ones align with your key goals and which ones can be deferred, delegated, or dropped. This is always a challenging one for me. Magpie approach because I love shiny things!
  3. Setting Clear Priorities: Prioritise tasks based on their importance and urgency. Not all tasks are created equal. Learn to differentiate between urgent and important, and prioritise accordingly. Use tools like the Eisenhower Box to categorise tasks and focus on what truly matters.
  4. Leveraging Time Management Techniques: Implement effective time management strategies. Techniques like time blocking can ensure you’re dedicating appropriate attention to high-priority tasks. Focus on what infront of you. Only open your email 2 maybe 3 times a day.
    I personally have Tab Overload distraction, dont to this.
    Tab Overload
  5. Assess Your Resources: What do you have, and what do you need to accomplish these tasks? This includes time, tools, support, and skills.
  6. Create SMART Goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals can transform an overwhelming list into manageable chunks.
  7. Empowering Your Team: Delegating effectively isn’t just about offloading work; it’s about empowering your team members to take ownership and contribute their best. This also helps in building their skills and confidence. When you don’t have a team, ask for help. Or maybe their is a technology that can help you out. Currently, as a one-man shop, I utilise AIs to help me do the heavy lifting.
  8. Communicating Clearly: Keep open channels of communication with your team. Articulate expectations, provide necessary resources and be open to feedback. Maybe your team can be upskilled. Or maybe there is someone on your team who is looking for new challenges. ASK. You are not alone.
  9. Maintaining Flexibility: Be prepared to pivot and adapt as situations change. Flexibility is key in leadership, as it allows you to respond effectively to unexpected challenges. Remember, you got this. You need to be fluid and learn to adapt. We all have the same 168 hours in a week. Accept you can only do what you can do. And more than likely you are doing an amazing job.
  10. Give yourself some credit: Become conscious of the inner dialogue. Are you beating yourself down or up? It’s okay to give yourself motivational pushes although how far is too far? Be proud of your achievements, and when you achieve milestones celebrate them. Sometimes, taking a moment to step back and visualise the successful completion of tasks can provide clarity and motivation.

Incorporating these strategies into your routine can significantly alter how you perceive and tackle overwhelming situations. As a leader, your approach to stress and workload doesn’t just affect your wellbeing but also sets a precedent for your team. By adopting these methods, you not only enhance your productivity but also contribute to a healthier, more supportive work environment.

Remember, feeling overwhelmed is a common human experience, especially in our fast-paced world. But by breaking down the ‘elephant’, we can navigate through it more effectively. Instead of being paralysed by the enormity of tasks, we can take proactive steps to manage them, one ‘bite’ at a time.


Feeling ready to take your leadership skills to the next level? Our range of tech tools and techniques are tailored to help you navigate through your leadership challenges with ease and efficiency. Connect with us now to access these resources and start your journey towards more effective and empowering leadership. Get in touch to learn more!

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