I was on the phone with a coaching client the other day, and she was sharing how she was in overwhelm. She had too much going on – too many to-do’s, at work and at home; too many strategic projects calling for her attention; too many employee issues that required her input. She felt unable to focus on any one thing long enough to bring it to closure.
As we talked it through, I was reminded of my computer, when it freezes because it has too many windows open. Sometimes I’m working on too many things, and my computer seems to balk, as if paralyzed. As if overwhelmed.
If our computers freeze when we’re handling too many tasks at once, then no surprise that we would too. It makes sense that we would. There’s too much data flowing around, too many ideas circulating, too many problems waiting to be solved and sentences waiting to be finished. Too many windows open.
We need to learn to shut down some windows. To acknowledge that we can’t focus on everything at once, and that, in fact, we’d be more effective if we focused on one thing at a time. We need to perhaps have a tickler system so that we remember the projects we closed out, so that we come back to them. No matter the structure, we need the faith and surety that we will come back to them so that we can step away from them right now.
Sometimes it feels like we have no choice, that everything is a crisis in this moment and nothing can be dropped, or even postponed. And sometimes that may be true. But I’ve noticed in my own life, as well as with my clients, that it’s true less often than we think. There is usually something that can be put off, or someone who can step in and take away some of our burden. We can delegate. We can manage expectations (of ourselves and others). We can choose. We can be more realistic about what we can get done, by when, and how well.
We don’t expect our electronic gadgets to run as well when too many windows are open – or without periodic downtime while we’re at it – why should we expect that of ourselves? We need to shut down a few windows, to step away from a few projects, and to perhaps even power down for a few minutes (or an evening) so that we’re fresh and able to effectively handle all that comes our way.
How do you handle your windows?
Let us know.
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