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Experiencing These 10 Little Struggles Like Every Over-Thinker Does? Here’s What To Do

Experiencing These 10 Little Struggles Like Every Over-Thinker Does? Here’s What To Do

We all over-think things at times, though luckily most are able to get over it. Some of us, however, are afflicted in such an unfortunate manner that we’re practically always over-thinking about one thing or another. What does this kind of constant rumination do to us? How does it affect our lives? What can we do to deal with it? Find out below …

1. Imagining worst-case scenarios.

Overthinker#1

    Yeah, this one’s obvious, but it needs to be stated nonetheless. Yesterday I had to drive for six hours, and kept worrying about missing my exits, overheating my engine, running out of gas, etc. Turned out everything went swimmingly, my car ran well, my GPS got me to where I needed to go, and I got some awesome mileage out of my hybrid (impressive seeing as it’s a model from 2003). Over-thinkers are always analyzing everything that could possibly go wrong in any given situation, which can be a real problem since this sort of fear and anxiety can prevent them from doing things that need to get done. It’s not a rational fear, either. Even if an over-thinker does something a thousand times with no issues, it only takes one slip-up for them to no longer feel confident doing whatever it was they were doing just fine a minute ago.

    Here’s what you can do:

    Though I still worry about everything that can go wrong at any given moment, I’ve gotten a bit better simply by forcing myself to go out there and do new things. When you start doing all of the things you’re fearful of, you’ll learn that, at worst, only a couple things will go wrong, and it won’t be nearly as terrifying as you imagined. The truth of the matter is that you’ll find that you’re well equipped to handle most trying situations, even when you assume you can’t.

    2. Ignoring the obvious.

    Overthinker#2

      I once spent several hours picking out the perfect café to go to with my girlfriend. I looked at reviews, checked out the areas they were in, looked at prices, the whole nine yards! Lo and behold, when we got there the place was closed. Moral of the story: over-thinking things can and will lead to you missing details that any normal person would have picked up on fairly quickly.

      Here’s what you can do:

      Try to be more spontaneous. Had I just winged it and picked any old café on the street, I would have saved myself a lot of trouble in terms of prep time and worrying about all of the tiny details, which only prevented me from seeing the big picture (i.e., when they were open).

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      3. Being unable to sleep.

      Overthinker#3

        This is another classic symptom of over-thinking. You’ll be thrashing around in your bed, bruising your pillows, heating up your sheets, and generally causing a ruckus, even when, in actuality, you’re extremely tired and just want to sleep. What causes this? Analyzing every single detail of what went down during the day, as well as mentally prepping for all of the things you’re worried about for tomorrow.

        Here’s what you can do:

        Exercise before bed. It won’t get rid of all of your nagging thoughts, but you’ll expel the majority of the nervous energy that normally prevents you from conking out as soon as your head hits the pillow.

        4. Refusing to let go of minor things.

        Overthinker#4

          Over-thinkers have a tendency to let a single (often minor) event ruin their day. For instance, a rude e-mail from your school or work, or a comment from a complete stranger that rubbed you the wrong way. Over-thinkers often go into rage mode over stuff like this, plotting different ways to get back at people (all imagined of course), conjuring alternate realities (in their minds) in order to explore how they could have avoided said situation, and all in all letting whatever happened to them take control of their lives.

          Here’s what you can do:

          You just need to realize that what’s in the past is in the past. It happened, and you can’t do anything about it now besides move forward into the future. Don’t let minor things upset you; in a week you’ll forget why you were even angry.

          5. Failing tests.

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          Overthinker#5

            OK, so over-thinkers don’t “fail” tests per se, but we have a tendency to chew on questions far more than most people. I’ll use an example from the GRE, which is a test you need to take to apply to most graduate schools. Though I’m pretty good at the verbal portion of the test, there were times I would shoot myself in the foot by assuming that certain questions were trying to trick me, which only led to me thinking things over way too much and getting the wrong answer. This didn’t happen too often (since the GRE is one test where over-thinking is a bit useful), but it was noticeable.

            Here’s what you can do:

            That old saying “go with your first instinct” holds up well here. Most of the time, when I over-think my answer to a question, I end up going with my second instinct, when in reality my gut had it right all along.

            6. Experiencing the “time anxiety paradox.”

            Overthinker#6

              This is a neat little phrase I made up to describe when you’re wasting time during the day and wishing you weren’t, though you are too distracted by poisonous thoughts to do anything about it. So for instance, you’ll be sitting in your chair, wishing you were doing something productive. You’ll think to yourself, “Hmm, well I could read a book, play a game, write something, apply to jobs, apply to colleges, clean my room,” etc. All the while, you’ll be looking at your clock, your anxiety rising as the minutes and hours tick by while you sit there being generally unproductive.

              It’s a bit of a paradox really. You’re anxious and over-thinking things because you feel like you’re wasting a day, but the only reason you’re wasting the day is because you’re too busy worrying about what to do instead of actually doing something.

              Here’s what you can do:

              This is a toughie. The only way out of this trap is to pick something, anything to do, even if you have no motivation to do it. Give yourself five minutes to do said task or activity. I guarantee that after those five minutes you’ll start having fun, and you’ll be released from the time anxiety paradox.

              7. The menu conundrum.

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              Overthinker#7

                I hate menus, same as other over-thinkers. It’s not like I don’t know what I want, it’s that I keep imagining all of the other possibilities, weighing whether if, in the end, I’d enjoy a salad over a burger, or chicken over beef, or iced tea over water, or curly fries instead of regular. No matter what an over-thinker chooses, there will be a few minutes of doubt after the fact as they imagine what could have been.

                Here’s what you can do:

                At the very least, do your menu research before you get to the restaurant so that you go in with a plan (though that in itself is a form of over-thinking). Or, pick a type food you’ll stick to when you go out, as a sort of “safety.” Mine happens to be the good old-fashioned burger. If a menu is freaking me out and I’m starting to get anxious, I usually have that to turn to and it generally always turns out pretty well!

                8. You have no problem finishing things; starting them is the issue.

                Overthinker#8

                  This is a problem for me mainly when it comes to videogames. I’ll buy a game and want to finish it, but I’ll be prevented from doing so thanks to thoughts that sound a bit like this: “Well, even if I play it for two hours today, at that pace there’s no way I’ll be finished before next month, and by then I’ll be working more and have schoolwork and have that test, oh, and a dentist’s appointment … yeah, might as well not start at all since I won’t even be able to really enjoy it.”

                  Here’s what you can do:

                  As with the time anxiety paradox, the key is to just start. You’ll have fun, and regardless of whether or not it’ll conflict with events that happen in the future, there’s no reason to cut yourself down before you even start. Give it a try and go with the flow!

                  9. You are accused of being too “silent.”

                  Overthinker#9

                    Over-thinkers hate being accused of adding little to nothing to a conversation. Much to their chagrin, however, this happens often, mainly because they’ll chew over what they want to say for a decent period of time, perfecting it, waiting for the right moment to speak.

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                    Here’s what you can do:

                    Show people that, while you don’t have as much to say as the social butterflies in your group, what you do say is more thoughtful, impactful, and significant. Soon enough, people will quit calling out your silence because they’ll realize that there’s a good reason for it.

                    10. The stutter effect.

                    Overthinker#10

                      Oh, how I hate dealing with drive-thru operators and other cashiers. Not because I dislike them personally; I just can’t remember the last time I spoke to one of them without mangling the English language. This happens to me at Starbucks a lot. I’ll be thinking in my head, “OK, don’t forget, triple grande vanilla latte hot, don’t forget!” While reciting that line in my head, I’ll also be worrying about something else, like making sure to speak clearly.

                      The result is usually something like this: “Hi, I’ll have a triple g-g-grande vanilla(?) latte … uh … oh and can you make it h-hot?” Nine time out of ten, the Starbucks drive-thru person will scoff at me and say, “Can you please say that again, sir,” which only makes it worse.

                      Here’s what you can do:

                      Try to clear your head before you speak to a cashier, drive-thru operator, etc. When you aren’t worrying about every word you need to deliver, your subconscious takes over and will make you sound like the confident human being you are. I’m still working on this, but I think I’ve at least gotten over the stuttering. Now it’s just a matter of speaking clearly enough for them to understand what I’m saying!

                      I hope you enjoyed this list. To all my fellow over-thinkers: we’re all going to make it!

                      Featured photo credit: Anxiety/ Mariana Zanatta via flickr.com

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                      Published on January 16, 2019

                      How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                      How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                      We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

                      You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

                      You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

                      That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

                      Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

                      1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

                      Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

                      We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

                      To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

                      At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

                      The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

                      2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

                      Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

                      The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

                      In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

                      It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

                      It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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                      So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

                      • Are you a great strategist?
                      • Are you an effective planner?
                      • Is Project Management your strength?
                      • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
                      • Are you the ideas person?
                      • Is Implementation your strength?

                      Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

                      3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

                      One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

                      Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

                      Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

                      Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

                      4. Take Time for Planning

                      “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

                      One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

                      You can take the time to think about:

                      • What’s the purpose of the project?
                      • How Important is it?
                      • When does it need to be delivered by?
                      • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
                      • What are the KPIs?
                      • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
                      • Who is working on this project?
                      • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
                      • What tolerances can I add in?
                      • What are the review stages?
                      • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

                      Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

                      5. Focus on Priorities

                      Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

                      Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

                      One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

                      1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
                      2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
                      3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
                      4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

                      James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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                        The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

                        If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

                        If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

                        6. Take Time Out

                        To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

                        If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

                        Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

                        In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

                        Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                        7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

                        Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

                        I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

                        Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

                        If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

                        8. Stop Multitasking

                        Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

                        So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

                        When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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                        If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

                        9. Work in Blocks of Time

                        To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

                        I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

                        Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

                        Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

                        Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

                        Then take another 10-minute break.

                        Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

                        By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

                        10. Get Rid of Distractions

                        Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

                        “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

                        Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

                        If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

                        11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

                        You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

                        Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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                        Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

                        12. Take a Time Audit

                        Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

                        Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

                        You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

                        Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

                        Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

                        At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

                        If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

                        13. Protect Your Confidence

                        It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

                        When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

                        Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

                        When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

                        Final Words

                        A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

                        The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

                        If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

                        Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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