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How Getting Overwhelmed Helps Improve Productivity

Guest post by Krisca Te


Ridiculous Suggestion

How could becoming overwhelmed — the end of productivity, efficiency, accomplishment — be tweaked to render some benefit to those finding themselves overwhelmed? Well, it may seem ridiculous to suggest, but being overwhelmed can bestow some benefits.

Bad Math

To be overwhelmed is simply to have one too many (or two too many, or three) things to do. As a result, you will be dealing with some unpleasant effects, all of which overlap to a degree:

  • Too many things demanding attention.
  • Inability to figure out where to begin.
  • Flitting from task to task.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Poor productivity.

Taking some time to pause is necessary to glean some worth out of being overwhelmed. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How did you get overwhelmed in the first place?
  • Did you overestimate yourself?
  • Did you underestimate the tasks?

No matter the answers to those individual questions, the broad answer will be that you simply have more work than you can do. Just as in mathematics, when the results of your calculations don’t work out, it’s time to go back over them and figure out where you have made a mistake.

Not Purely Negative

Look at the positive side of being overwhelmed. Like any negative aspect of life, it is an invitation to reflect and consider yourself, perhaps even the way you look at life and earning a living. And you should ask yourself still more questions:

  • Where am I over-extending myself?
  • Which tasks are essentials?
  • Which tasks can be completed later?

As you’ve always heard, mistakes make the man. They are lessons, sometimes-unpleasant ones that are teaching situations. Learning is learning but you will hopefully, be that much stronger and wiser for having endured them.

What Do I Need to Do?

What are your needs? If you were taking a course in managing your personal finances (banking, investing, taking loans, etc.) you would be asked to differentiate between your needs and your wants. You may think this is obvious until you really start concentrating. Needs and wants can both be very strong, almost emotional, and both can strongly compete for your attention. But needs, no matter how distasteful at the moment, come first.

Moore’s Law Often Kicks In

Cast a critical eye upon your undertakings. What can you reasonably do? Not what you could do if you were perfect, but what you can expect to accomplish as a human prone to error and missteps. Also, at some point Moore’s law will probably kick in, inspiring smarter, more adaptive problem solving that optimizes task integration at a greater speed while reducing your energy consumption, just like a semiconductor.

What Can I Do?

Knowing what you need to do isn’t enough. Humans tend to underestimate enterprises and overestimating their productivity. Sift through your tasks to prioritize things. If you do, need two things at the same time, better go with the one you know you can do first, followed with the other. Being overwhelmed is not an entirely a negative thing. It can be turned into a positive thing if you see it as an opportunity for re-evaluation and learning. And perhaps prompt you to critically ponder the philosophy of life that you are presently following.

Krisca Te works with Open Colleges, Australia’s leading provider of TAFE courses equivalent and counselling courses. When not working, you can find her actively participating in local dog show events – in support of her husband.


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