by Krishen Kota, PMP
When I started having dreams at night about how
overwhelmed I felt regarding all the tasks I needed to get done at work, I knew I had to make some changes.
I had reached a point where there was no light at the end of the tunnel. There was too much to do and
too little time to get it done. It was at that point I started my journey to overcome the overwhelm.
It was an interesting journey, as I will soon explain. But, before I get into the details, here are
the basic steps I found to finally overcome the overwhelm:
1 Find out where you are spending your time.
2 Focus on priorities.
3 Implement a system that keeps you out of overwhelm.
Step 1 - Find Out Where You Are Spending Your Time
Having dreams at night about the things I had to do at work the next day, was my signal that my approach
to success had to change. I had tried many techniques for managing my life, read numerous books on subjects
like time management and goal setting, but I could never seem to get rid of that feeling of overwhelm.
I had exhausted all my options and knew I couldn't figure it out on my own, so I hired a professional
My new coach helped me take the first step on my journey out of overwhelm. Step 1 was to get a clear
picture of where I was spending my time. Of course I thought I already knew where I was spending my
time, but I was somewhat surprised when I saw the results.
For a period of two weeks I carried around a small notebook and wrote down everything I did that took
over five minutes. After two weeks of recording my daily activities, I added up the results. I took
out a piece of paper and created a column for each category of activity. I categorized activities, such
as commute time to work, time spent on lunch, time spent with my wife, and the like. Two things became
very apparent. I was focused on too many priorities and I was spending too much time in traffic, an
unbelievable nine hours per week. These discoveries led me to make some interesting decisions, which
are outlined in Step 2 below.
Step 2 - Focus On Priorities
Step 2 in my journey was to start focusing on my top priority goals. But before I could, I had to clear
space in my schedule so that I would have enough time to focus on my top priority goals.
To free up time in my schedule, I had to get realistic on the number of priorities I could focus on
at one time. Most of the activities I was involved in were things I wanted to do. The problem was there
were many more things I wanted to do, than I had time to do.
I was able to create some space on my schedule by telling myself that I was just putting some activities
on hold for now. I was not giving them up forever, but I was giving myself permission to put some activities
on hold, to allow myself to focus on my most important priorities. I had to make some tough choices
in order to create some space. For me, this was the key factor in overcoming my overwhelm.
I encourage you to start focusing on your priorities. Start by reviewing the list of activities that
you identified in Step 1 above. Hi-light the activities that you could put on hold if you had to. How
much time could you free up if you put some of those activities on hold? Write down how many hours per
week you could make available.
After you have created space on your schedule, take time to create specific top priority goals for yourself.
Take out a sheet of paper and make a list of everything you would like to create in your life. Make
sure everything on the list represent things you really want and not things that you think others would
approve. Take your wish list and select 10 items on your list that you feel are the most important to
you. Ask yourself, what can you accomplish in the next 12 months? Take those top 10 items you identified
and make them into specific, quantifiable goals. It is important to make sure each one is measurable.
For instance, one thing on my list was to create a better relationship with my wife. To make that a
quantifiable goal, I rewrote it as ?bring my wife flowers once a week for the next 12 months?. And in
case you were wondering, she loved it!
To assist you with Step 2, I would highly recommend "Your Best Year Yet", by Jinny S.Ditzler. This book
is a great resource to help you create your top 10 priority goals. It walks you though a step-by-step
process of defining 10 compelling goals that you want to fulfill in the next 12 months.
I attended a seminar based on the book above. When the person leading the seminar suggested that we
were going to define 10 goals for ourselves, I thought "wow, that's a lot of goals". But about half
way though the seminar I realized that I was already focusing on about 30 different loosely defined
goals. Since that seminar I have been focusing on a mere 10 goals, and it has definitely made a positive
impact on overcoming my overwhelm.
Step 3 - Set Up a Support System to Keep You Out of Overwhelm
The third and final step is to set up a support system to keep you out of overwhelm. My system involves
several key elements. My 12-month top 10 priority goals, which I break down into monthly and weekly
goals, give me something on which to focus.
Beyond the written goals, the most important elements of my system for staying out of overwhelm include
my wife and my coach. They help me see things I can?t see. For example, when I started getting a little
overwhelmed about what to write for this article, my wife pointed out that my overwhelm about this article
was a great example to write about. My coach gave me the simple advice of breaking down the article
into sections and to just work on one section at a time.
It is critical for you to have other people involved in your system to provide you with support, and
to help identify your blind spots. Without other people, you don?t really have a system; you just have
a theoretical approach to a real world problem.
If you find yourself overwhelmed, take the time to implement the following steps and see how they work
1 Get a clear picture of where you are spending your time
- Record all of your activities over the next two weeks
2 Focus on priorities
- Put non-priorities on hold
- Create your top-10 priority goals
3 Set up a system to keep you out of overwhelm
- Keep focusing on your goals
- Get other people involved to help keep you out of overwhelm
Also, here is a list of additional resources I have found to be extremely valuable in my own work and
life to help overcome the overwhelm:
Your Best Year Yet: Ten Questions for Making the Next Twelve Months Your Most Successful Ever,
by Jinny S. Ditzler, New York: Warner Books, 2000
(Available at major bookstores and at
"Success From the Inside Out!? by Jeanne Sharbuno, Free Monthly E-Mail Newsletter
To subscribe, send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Work Less, Make More: Stop working so hard and create the life you really want!
, by Jennifer White, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998, 1999
(Available at major bookstores and at
If you have gotten to a point in your life where you know it?s time to make a change and get out of
overwhelm, then let this information act as your roadmap. I think the world would be a much better place
if everyone had less stress in his or her life. Start your journey to overcome the overwhelm today.
A low stress life is waiting for you on the other side!
Copyright © 2006-2018, Krishen Kota, All Rights Reserved
Krishen Kota is a 15+ year veteran of the information technology consulting industry and is President
of AdminiTrack, Inc. (www.adminitrack.com),
which provides a web-based task and issue tracking application designed specifically for professional
project or business teams. Krishen may be contacted via email at