It was only a year ago when it was a badge of honor to answer the question “How are you?” with the socially acceptable, “Busy!!” How to avoid overwhelm. We were busy because we were saying yes to what looked like opportunity. We said yes to whatever came along because it meant that we were popular. Someone wants us, they really want us! And then, as we get busier and busier, the waves of overwhelm hit often and hard. How can we be strategic with your yes? I know that is not proper grammar, but hear me out!
Today, as we begin to come out of the pandemic (hopefully), I hear many entrepreneurs say they are anxious about what this “new” world may look and feel like. Everyone seems to agree that they have found a new way of working and living they don’t want to completely give up. And yet as business picks up, I’ve heard the topic of stress creep back into conversation. Thinking more about it, while I’ve always been a big proponent of saying yes to new projects, I wonder if I might have been saying yes too fast to some things that didn’t serve my overall purpose and goals.
Then, as we another duck under another wave of overwhelm, we fall back on that old saw — work smarter, not harder.
Say Not to TBUs
In his book The Coaching Habit, Michael Bungay Stanier calls the concept of “working smarter, not harder” to be TBU — True But Useless. And impossible to act on. Instead, Stanier suggests we ask a strategic question — If I say yes to *this* project, person, or action, then what project, person or personal goal am I saying no to? It’s easy to commit, even halfheartedly, in the name of being friendly and helpful. But how helpful is it if we can’t follow through, or that saying yes leads only to busyness rather than our true business and purpose?
A better way to approach opportunities is to say “yes” slower, if at all. Ask more questions, be more curious about what we are committing to, be clearer on what we will have to stop doing and understand if saying yes will benefit our core priorities or not. Stop the rush to action that leads to overwhelm. Slow down our first instincts to say yes before you know what doing so will entail.
When we streamline what we do to the essentials, what we do has more meaning and impact.
Another blog you might like on how to avoid overwhelm: https://liesegardner.com/three-words-that-could-change-your-life/