Overwhelm as a lifestyle

I was thinking about how to optimize my work habits today. One of my constant personal patterns has been: get creative and come up with a bunch of stuff to do, get freaked out about all the stuff there is to do, do nothing..

I am constantly working to improve my work habits. Before I started on this journey, I managed to poison my love of animal training, conservation education and raptor rehabilitation. I went through mild depression / anxiety. I didn’t get much done, and I wasn’t a happy camper. This is because every task that I completed was overshadowed by the overwhelm I felt. Overwhelm comes from fear, which is an old, important message about short-term survival. It should not be adopted as a long-term lifestyle!

The big issue here is how you feel. I got to the stage where just looking at a to do list (or thinking of one) caused a feeling of distress. And having lots of them lurking around contributed to spending a lot of time in avoidance mode, ie procrastinating.

So what to do? I really like David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” system. It does take a while to implement, and a lot of work to bring in to practice, but I found it was a good structure for me to start with.

ACD_obedienceWhat it boils down to is: get everything out of your head and into writing, break it down into the smallest steps possible, and do just one thing at a time. Sounds exactly like a professional animal trainer to me! 🙂 (As an aside: have a look at how many steps there are to teach a dog to do a formal obedience retrieve. Like many projects we see as “one thing”, there are a lot of moving parts to tackle separately!)

Sadly, our society does not teach us how to work happily. If you meet your day with a little dread, you certainly aren’t alone. If you lead or are part of a team, this can be frustrating. How do you change that sense of worry to a sense of energy and interest in other people? That question is one that I seek to answer, not only for myself, but for others in their work places too.