In my manic touring of airports in North America I have had the opportunity to observe a lot of people and it struck me how single-tasking has gone the way of the dodo bird. We feel compulsed to be plugged in to many different things at the same time and we rarely allow ourselves to have a single focus. This constant busyness really interferes with our ability to be present in this world. And we are super busy to what end? As author and coach, Robert Holden, wrote in his wonderful book Success Intelligence, "Psychologists have never found any positive correlation between permanent busyness and peak performance. Nor is there any evidence that permanent busyness supports inspired work or contributes to sustained success."
In fact, being over-busy leads to that stressful feeling of being overextended, which ultimately, in its crisis form, evidences itself as a kind of paralysis. What can we do if we are experiencing Overextended Paralysis and how can we avoid that state together?
Three ways to prevent Overextended Paralysis:
1/ Eliminate the language of absolutes
When all around you the world screams " You must do...", "You should do...", "You are supposed to......", "Why haven't you done..." , you can make the choice to eliminate that kind of language from your vocabulary. Switch from language that is constrictive or implies absolutes. Switch to empowering language that gives you a choice. "I choose to..." , "I might...", "I want to...", "I will...". Change your "To Do" list to a "Get To Do" list.
We live in a culture of "more". Buck the trend. Avoid unnecessary effort and excess busyness. Schedule some "non-scheduled" time. If you are too busy, you leave no room for anything else and that "anything else" may well be something that you will like even better than what you are doing now. Declutter. Less is more. Create some space for you.
3/ Connect with your Purpose
Let your personal life purpose (your North Star) create your priorities and guide your day. Robert Holden said "to have time for what is valuable, you have to stop giving time to what isn't." Let your North Star be your filter - if an opportunity doesn't connect with your life purpose, say no. Take inspired action rather than just "action". Make decisions aligned with your higher good.
Three Steps to getting through Overextended Paralysis:
Face it, when you get to the state of paralysis, you need to take drastic action. I recommend that you stop, sit still for 10 minutes, close your eyes and breathe. As you breathe count to yourself: In breath - 1, Out breath 1, In breath - 2, Out Breath - 2, until you get up to ten. If you lose your place, start over. Allow yourself to find the place of stillness and quiet that lies underneath the 50,000 thoughts on average that you have daily.
2/Adopt a Single Focus
Think about what is most important to you right now. What one thing would make the most difference if you focused all your energy on it right now? When you are in a state of overextended paralysis, the thousands of things you feel you have to do create an overwhelm that prevents you from knowing even where to begin. Keep the main thing the main thing. Focus all of your energy on that "main thing" to release you from the paralysis.
3/Stage a hit of massive action
Leadership expert, Kevin Eikenberry (www.kevineikenberry.com) believes we must sometimes stage sessions of "massive action" in order to create momentum and make big progress. To get you out of your paralyzed state, plan for a radical hit of "massive action" on your "main thing". That may mean clearing your calendar for one entire day to solely work at your "main thing". Turn off your phone and electronic peripherals for a designated period of time to allow for uninterrupted focus on your "main thing". Once you make some headway on your "main thing", you will begin to feel the release of that paralytic burden.