4 Tips To Dealing With Being Overwhelmed | How To Deal With Overwhelm And Life Stress

overwhelmed-top-400Being overwhelmed isn’t reserved for certain, high-pressure jobs.

Everyone has things they’re juggling:






The list goes on and on.

How do you stay up on it all?

How do you maintain quality relationships with your wife, son, brother, mother?

How do you deal with all the STRESS?


Well – here is the system I’ve created.

This is my strategy for dealing with overwhelm and it’s broken into four parts:

  • Prioritize
  • Focus
  • Systemize
  • Love

I provide a video overview on how to deal with being overwhelmed here:

1. Prioritize

Covey-Matrix-500Productivity starts with prioritization. When there are too many things to do, some things aren’t going to get done — at least not right away — and you want to be sure that you’re not dropping any of the important ones.

There are many tools for setting priorities, starting with the basic “to-do” list. Another popular model, the Eisenhower box or Eisenhower matrix, categorizes tasks based on both urgency and importance:

• Important and Urgent: These are immediate action tasks. Do them right away! They should be top priority.

• Important and Not Urgent: Set up a plan for doing these before they slip into the “urgent” category. You want to be looking ahead at how to get them done, but they can wait until the Important/Urgent tasks are out the door.

• Not Important and Urgent: Irritating little things that have to get done. Delegate these if you can, or hire outside help to take care of them. If you have to do them yourself, schedule it after the Important/Urgents.

• Not Urgent and Not Important: These are mostly time wasters. Drop them entirely, delegate them, or take care of them in a low-effort way during your spare time.

The Eisenhower matrix is just one way of categorizing priorities; anything that helps you divide up the things that have to happen now from the things that can happen later is useful. But without some sort of system, even the best of us will mis-prioritize things that could have waited from time to time, or let something important slip through the cracks.


2. Focus

Once you know your key tasks, it’s time to bear down and focus on them exclusively.

This is not the FOCUS I'm talking about.

This isn’t the FOCUS I’m talking about.

Multitasking doesn’t really exist.

At the best, it’s a way to do several things poorly.

Tackle one task at a time, setting everything else aside while you’re doing it.

One easy productivity strategy is to start your day on your most urgent task. Don’t even open your email until it’s done. By giving yourself a couple hours where you’re not thinking about new, less urgent matters, you can really dig into the key task for the day.

It’s also important to close disctractions down when working. Don’t have your e-mail up where you can see the notifications of new e-mails when you’re working on something important. The e-mail can wait. Ditto social media or messaging services — if people really, desperately need to get ahold of you, they can call your phone. Otherwise it can probably wait.

A kitchen timer (or most smartphones have a timer feature, these days) can also help with focus. Set a timer for between 30-50 minutes and don’t let yourself move away from the task at hand until the timer goes off.

Be realistic — more than an hour or so isn’t going to happen; the human brain just can’t go that long without some kind of break — but be strict within the small window of time you set aside. Turn off your internet connection if you have to. A lot of computer programs these days have a built-in “productivity mode” that blanks out everything but the program window; use them if they’re helpful.

Do whatever it takes, but focus!


gears-systems-5003. Systemize

Most of us take our tasks as unique challenges.

Every project we work on, we start from scratch.

Try to be attentive to what tasks you’re doing on a regular basis.

Once you’ve had to do something two or three times, you should start thinking about ways to systemize it, so that it goes faster the next time.

In my case, meetings with other people are necessary so often that it was worth systemizing them.

I set one weekday aside as my “meetings day,” and used a scheduling app to let all the people I meet with pick a time slot. That way I know when the meetings are going to happen, and I don’t have to spend time every week just setting them up.

Remember, time spent blocking out time is, well, time! It comes out of your schedule. The more you can systemize your regularly-occurring tasks, the more time you free up for the tasks themselves.


4. Love

antonio and keven

I love helping young men like Kevin Succeed!

It’s not uncommon for very successful people to burn out of their fields abruptly. From sports to business, you see big names take sudden leaves of absences, or switch careers altogether.

In most cases, they leave because they don’t love what they’re doing. Success in and of itself is meaningless, if you don’t enjoy the thing you’re succeeding at.

Remember that work is a tool, not a goal. It should be helping you reach a goal: fulfillment, happiness; satisfaction. (And yes, basic sustenance is on that list too. We all have to eat. But we should strive for more than that.)

I keep a sign above my desk that asks me if what I’m working on right now is worth the time I could be spending with my family.

It reminds me not to waste time on things that aren’t important, and to focus on doing the job that I love in a way that’s good for me and for my family.

Give yourself time every few weeks to look your work life over and think about how much you’re enjoying it. If you can’t think of much positive to say, it may be time to rethink the tasks you’re working on altogether!


So what do you think?

Any tips you have to share on dealing with being overwhelmed?

  • Karim

    Great article as usual.
    I really liked the tip of not opening the emails in the morning but rather work I immediately on the most urgent task.
    I always do the opposite and get immediately distracted by less urgent matters that pop in my inbox.
    My two tips/cents:
    1) Try planning your next day tasks at the end of the previous day. It is said that your brain will start working on them immediately.
    2) if you feel overwhelmed by emails(like me) and you’re using Outlook, then there great tools to help:
    – Conditional Formatting(coloring in red emails sent to you only in the To like for example)
    – Cleanup Conversation button
    – Ignore button
    – Setting rules for automatic archiving/deletion/actions

  • RMRStyle

    Great tips Karim! Although having moved from Outlook to Gmail I can’t say I miss the the folders – tagging for me is so much simpler :)

  • Bryan B

    Great article Antonio. I really like what you’re venturing out into, though I’ve sensed these success principles in your material since the beginning. I believe you have great influence and (at the very least, in our immediate community here), credentials to speak on success in general (plus your writing style is awesome – simple and straight). Great read man, thank you and keep it up please!

  • Leo

    Nice article Antonio. Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed I just sit back, take a deep breath, and tell myself that It’ll all work out in the end. Sometimes our brains just need a refresh in that sense.

  • Len

    I emphatically agree with your assessment of multitasking. It’s a word and a concept that needs to be purged. If your day revolves around specific tasks, make a check list. I had to. Too many things to be responsible for, and even though I have an excellent memory there are times through distractions I will bypass something I need to do. So, for those things that I need to work on daily…checklist. Do them first thing (unless some other fire presents itself to be extinguished), get them out of the way, and then tackle the more abstract parts of your job. If you are interrupted, leave a quick note with that particular piece of work and put it to the side. Concentrate on the person, phone call, email that demands your immediate attention. Distractions occur. They’re part of life. Learn to roll with them instead of considering them obstacles.

  • Jörg

    I spent two weekend joining classes for time management at work. Somehow you managed to put the whole information into a 10 minutes video. That’s really focussed to the point! I only can add the advice to schedule a fixed time each day (30-60 minutes) without any interruptions like telephone, e-mails, etc.
    Thanks for the great article and I look forward to your next ones.

  • Karim

    Actually I don’t use folders at all in Outlook.
    The search feature is so powerful (Search Tools tab) that it saves me all the tagging and folders handling.
    If I were to use Gmail as my work email, I would still make Outlook my main email reading client and make Outlook handle the Gmail account.

  • menstyle

    Thanks for your additional advice, Jorg. :)

  • RMRStyle

    Agreed Len – it sounds like such a great idea…..then you try it and wonder why you have to do both tasks over :)

  • RMRStyle

    Agreed Leo – going to the gym helps too :)

  • RMRStyle

    Appreciate it Bryan – very happy to have you in support as we grow in this direction!

  • menstyle

    Fair enough! :)

  • Robert W

    Antonio, Thanks for this great article. Indeed, I do often, nowadays, feel overwhelmed with work. This new blog format of yours, that is, beyond style is very nice! robert

  • menstyle

    Wow! Thanks. :) Take it easy with work, though…

  • Joseph P.

    This article is fantastic. I do get overwhelmed at times and I do everything I can to stop myself from being overwhelmed. I try not to do too many things at once, though. I try to do one thing before I do the next thing … and that way, I won’t feel overwhelmed about things.

  • menstyle

    Thanks! Yes, that’s the way to go!

  • Priszilla

    it’s all fine if you see success. but if all you do is following promises, its time to change focus. away from career towards family.

  • justaguest

    thank you Antonio, I’m a little overwhelmed right now, found this article just at the right time

  • Chris

    Thank you Antonio for the great article and i appreciate your branching of diverse topics! I have always understood there is an importance in priority. In your model of handling stress or being overwhelmed I think it’s a great tool because it can be such a defeating character to our soul. I love how you included love and family into your segment and think it plays an important factor in enjoyment! I propose a question to you that I would to have your perspective towards. I am a student looking to become a teacher as well as a part time retail worker and between the two is where most of my stress is from. Now I am young and managing my time and stress are things I’m still developing but how do you propose that I prioritize and systemize my day? I feel my encounters can be so diverse as meeting different standards and addressing issues with a wide diverse population of people? Thank you again for the article and your time.

  • menstyle

    Wow, good for you! :) You’re welcome, Chris!

  • JurgenGjoncari

    Antonio this is so helpful!

  • menstyle

    Glad to know! :)