When You Feel Overwhelmed Do Less Better
Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome from 161 AD to 180 AD, but he’s better known as one of the most important Stoic philosophers. He wrote, “If you feel overwhelmed, do less.” Meditations 4.24
Doing less isn’t about leisure. Too much of anything is dissatisfying, including relaxation. More time off isn’t the answer when you return to the same catastrophe you left behind.
3 questions to ask when you feel overwhelmed:
#1. What is essential?
- Is signing papers essential?
- Are nagging notifications distracting you from something essential?
- What would it mean to simplify your day?
- What are you good at? Your talent helps you define essential.
‘Doing less better’ is limiting the number of things you do so you can do other things better.
#2. How can you focus on this play?
Nick Saban, renowned American football coach emphasizes ‘the process’. Part of the process is focusing on the immediate task. Don’t look at the scoreboard. (Here’s a two-minute video of Saban)
One reason you feel overwhelmed is you’re focused on the scoreboard instead of this play. Focus on what is in front of you, the immediate action.
You feel overwhelmed when you focus on many things at once. Do less better.
Care about what you can do instead of what others think, say, or do.
#3. How can you enjoy what you have?
It’s exhausting to constantly pursue more. Bigger houses, nicer clothes, and longer vacations. The more we get, the more we want.
Greed drains joy.
- Come back to the present. Perhaps a few deep breaths will help.
- Practice gratitude.
- Focus on learning.
- Appreciate the strengths of the people on your team.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?
How can leaders manage their lives so they ‘do less better’?