How to Overcome Overwhelm in Seven Easy Steps

How to Overcome Overwhelm
in Seven Easy Steps
© 2009 Copyright Barnsley Brown and Spirited Solutions™
All rights reserved. No duplication without permission.
By Barnsley Brown, PhD
I’m guessing you’re reading this report because you’re feeling overwhelmed, overworked, over-tired, over-stressed, over-committed and any other “over’s” we could
possibly brainstorm. Your life is jam-packed with loads of activities and things to
do but you never seem to get anything done.
What’s more, even though you’re constantly in motion and probably quite an
ambitious person (or you wouldn’t be reading this report, daggone it!), you feel
guilty that you are not getting done all the things on your list.
Let me guess, you’re even wondering if you have time to read this report. (Don’t
you even THINK about putting it down. If you do, you’re going to miss out on
some simple-to-implement strategies that will give you your life back—and give
you an extra 2 ½ hours every day! Isn’t the 15 minutes you spend reading this
worth an extra 17 1/2 hours a week??)
You’re probably thinking in the back of your mind about the piles of
paper you need to sort through on your desk or the backlog of emails
inundating your inbox.
You may even be trying to READ this report while you listen to a teleseminar or
check emails or drive your car (yes, people do all sorts of things trying to multitask—I just saw a guy reading the newspaper on a busy freeway).
STOP, I beg you! You deserve a better way! Life is supposed to be lively, light,
and FUN, not a mind-numbing stumble from task to task or multi-tasks to multitasks.
You are OUT OF CONTROL and it’s time to make a change!
I understand where you are. (Okay, true confessions time here…) When I was
working on my PhD, I took a full course load, worked three jobs to put myself
through graduate school, volunteered at my church and local charities, started two
businesses, worked out five times a week for physical fitness, and ended up getting
counseling because I was reaching my limit. I didn’t want to miss anything
(anybody out there identify with this trap?) but I was missing EVERYTHING in
my life.
In fact, I was missing in my life. I was taking care of everything and everybody
else (oh, did I also mention the boys—I mean boyfriends—I took care of?) and I
was last on my list. My list of things to do and people to take care of made Santa’s
list look like a post-it note.
In short I was not a happy camper.
There is nothing worse than feeling overwhelmed, except, I think, being six feet
under ground. While we’re above ground, I don’t think we can EVER be stressfree. Stress is a part of life and if someone says you meditate until you can live in
a beautiful, serene state of constant bliss, feel free to throttle them. (If you don’t, I
What we CAN do is arrange our lives in such a way that we minimize stress and
our reactions to stress and sustain our energy so that we can avoid burnout. People
nowadays are always harping about energy sustainability but what about YOUR
stores of personal and professional energy? Isn’t this your most precious resource?
What I’d like to offer you in this report are some proven, real-world, no-need tothrottle-me strategies that will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. . . if you implement them.
Knowledge without implementation is meaningless. Reading reports without
acting on what you learn is a waste of your time. And we know you don’t have
time to waste, so let’s get started.
I commit in our brief time together to share some easy steps you can use to take
back control of your time, your energy, and your invaluable resources. Will you
commit to applying just ONE of these steps, the one that screams out at you, “Pay
attention to me silly, I can change your life!” This will be the step you hear with
an accent reminiscent of your nagging auntie Gertrude who was always telling you
to stop picking your nose at the dinner table. (I personally think this is why so
many of us spend inordinate amounts of time rummaging in our noses at traffic
Friend, I can just hear what you’re thinking right now (okay, just stop thinking
about that nose image, I know it’s gross.) You’re thinking, “But my life is
different. I’ve got so much to do! I just don’t have enough time to do it all.”
Would you just STOP? Stop making excuses. Your life is the way it is because
you CHOOSE for it to be that way. I would like to show you that you can
CHOOSE differently. Sooooo, ready, set, go (and get that finger out of your nose,
would ya?)
How To Overcome Overwhelm in Seven Easy Steps:
1) Ditch the energy VAMPIRES!
Some people were born to whine. They have an innate gift for being a victim in
ANY circumstance. You could give them a brand new Ferrari and it still wouldn’t
be the right color, nor would they ever be able to find a satisfactory parking space
for it. (Okay, now I’m having a horrid flashback to one of the most negative
people I ever encountered in my seminars—Nothing pleased her, not the seminar,
not my enthusiasm, not the people there, not even the drink she bought in the
vending machine (“It’s lukewarm”) or the parking spot she found--“which was all
the way across the parking lot and she had to walk all that way”.)
Energy vampires are deadly. They will suck you dry as a cactus in the Kalahari.
And then they’ll talk about you behind your back. Their lives are so loveless and
dull that they’ve always got to have someone to talk about—and we ain’t talking
about in a complimentary fashion.
How do you deal with energy vampires? You RUN!
As an alternative, you can purchase a nice floral gift and deliver it to their office—
yes, a nice 12-foot tall very hungry carnivorous plant. You can adjust the size of
the plant as needed in your particular circumstance…
The point is, friend, you CAN’T WIN with these people. So don’t try. Don’t
waste your breath. And most of all, don’t waste your energy.
Now, who is the biggest energy vampire in your life? (Be honest…) Your boss?
Your mother? Your child who’s still living at home . . . at fifty years old? Your
office mate? Resolve to limit your contact with them. And if things start getting
negative, have an exit strategy: “You know, I’ve got to hang up right now, we can
talk later this week” or “Dear, I know you are smart and can handle this” (whatever
“this” is—getting a job, taking care of the baby, feeding Fatso the cat, making
good grades, finishing those taxes, etc.)
If you get sucked in, that is your fault! Do not be a player in a script that will leave
you lifeless.
2) Get a BACKBONE and a MOUTH to go with it!
Alrighty now, this is one of my favorites. Backbones are not just for chiropractors.
And chiropractors shouldn’t be the only ones familiar with how to make them
How are you showing up as spineless in your life? What situation are you
avoiding? What responsibility are you taking on that should not be yours or that
you really don’t want in the first place?
Right now, hon’, you could star in Oklahoma! (“I’m just a girl who can’t say
no…”) Shut that girl (or guy) up! Whack them in the head with that vaudeville
cane! Yank them off the stage of your life!
You have got to take a ruthless look at what is draining your energy. (Hint: These
are probably activities involving one or more of your beloved energy vampires.)
Are you still serving on that dysfunctional board where you end up doing
everything? Are you still working with that business partner who leaves stuff till
the last minute and does a half- (or quarter-) assed job? Are you spending time
consoling energy vampires at family dinners or by the water cooler and no time on
your personal rejuvenation?
STOP! Get a backbone. And next get a MOUTH! Use it to say, “Thank you for
thinking of me (for that committee, to write your proposal for you, to take care of
your teenager who likes to set trashcans on fire, blah blah blah) but I’m going to
have to decline that OPPORTUNITY.” Wow! What a nice way to say “No way,
Jose!” And then you follow up with, “But I know someone who could help you!”
(Be sure to look really bright-eyed and strawberry shortcake sweet at this point.)
And you nominate someone you don’t like.
I’m going to write a reverse blues song, “A backbone ain’t nuttin’ without a mouth
to say no.” Or maybe it could be a country song. At any rate, it’s gotta replace
that da#@$%mn “I’m just a girl who can’t say no.”
If you can’t get a spine and exercise that hole above your chin, I say you deserve to
be overwhelmed.
Yeah, you heard me, get a MOVE ON! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, chances
are you’ve neglected your most vital resource, your body! (maybe I should have
said “vital ass—et?” Oh come on, it’s okay to laugh…)
I’d bet you five bucks and that gallon of Haagen Dazs you consumed when you
were feeling sorry for yourself that you are not taking care of your body.
I don’t care what size your body is. You can be a six or a sixteen and still be super
healthy (I’m proof of that.) Okay, maybe there is one exception to this rule: If you
have to get two seats in the airplane and the other one is not for a friend or family
member, it really is time to go on a diet.
The point is, wherever you are in your health, whatever weight you are, whatever
your cholesterol or blood type is, you can be healthier. There are choices you are
making that are undermining your health.
In my home state of North Carolina, for example, 65 % of adults are either
overweight or obese and we are ranked fifth highest in the country for childhood
obesity. I guess all those buttery biscuits, green beans cooked with fatback for
eons, and made-from-scratch lemon pound cakes have left their impression—right
on our derrieres!
There’s only one way out of this quagmire and that is to exercise while
making healthy food choices. There’s only one way to get more
energy and that is to EXPEND more energy!
Alright, I can just hear you right now saying to yourself, “But I don’t have time…”
or “But I’m so tired—I don’t have energy to exercise.” Friend, get off your “But”!
If you DON’T exercise you definitely won’t have time. Time won’t matter when
you’ve had a heart attack. And you won’t need energy if you’re six feet under.
The fact of the matter is that when you are most stressed, when you are most tired,
that is the time that you most need to do some exercise. Now please note, I’m not
advocating that you do a triathlon. No need to break your neck. (And by the way,
this is why most people give up an exercise program—because they push
themselves too hard at the beginning and end up downing a jumbo size Ibuprofen
bottle after their workout.)
Start slowly and choose something you LOVE to do! You ain’t gonna do it if you
don’t love it! And you’re certainly not going to get up earlier in the morning to
exercise if you don’t love it.
I made an incredible breakthrough recently. Our toddler doesn’t like the daycare at
the gym we attend so I had had to freeze my membership. I substituted walking
outside three or four times a week but that just wasn’t enough to get my heart rate
up and energize me, plus oftentimes the weather wouldn’t cooperate. (Fred Astaire
can prance around singing in the rain, not this chic!)
So, I went to and bought a recumbent bike (one of those bikes
that reclines slightly so you don’t tear your back up.) And I found a super-secret
way to get my butt on that bike and my feet wheeling away like little hyped-up
Here’s the secret (and this is worth way more than what you paid for
this report—oh yeah, I forgot you got it for free.) This secret is worth
more than a good set of molars to a 97-year-old. Are you ready??
I love to read and I love to listen to teleseminars for personal and professional
development. Soooo, to make a long story short, I only let myself do this when
I’m on the bike and pedaling. Seems like such a simple change but it has
expanded my time and energy incrementally! Now I do 3 or more hours of
exercise per week because I love what I’m doing while exercising. As added
benefits, I stay current with professional development that’s necessary to help me
serve YOU better and my time is freed up later for projects I’m completing.
You gotta move, friend. There’s no excuse for being lazy and it will take years off
your life. Strive to do at least 30 minutes every day (okay you can take ONE or
TWO days off a week) and make sure you’re getting your heart rate into the target
rate for your age so you get all the cardiovascular benefits. You can calculate your
appropriate heart rate at websites such as and Just search for “target heart rate calculator” and you’ll pull it
The moral of the story: Every hour of exercise you put in today gives you hours
added to your life and saves you money. You’ll be healthier and happier since
exercise releases endorphins, those feel-fabulous hormones, throughout your body.
Plus you won’t need to run to the doctor all the time.
Your spouse or partner will also be happier because you’ll have more energy.
(Hint: If you can’t figure this out please skedaddle right now to Borders and grab
your very own copy of The Complete Kama Sutra.)
Get going darling! Your body, disposition, and dear ones will thank you!
4) Go on a diet----An email diet!
You heard me. You’re out of control. If you’re like most people I present for and
coach, you fire up your email first thing in the morning. That’s what in the Good
Book is called throwing your pearls to pigs (okay, I’m paraphrasing but you get the
gist of it).
Pick up your pearls, girl! (You need them for your next black-tie banquet). Don’t
you DARE give the best hours of your focus away to that nasty email habit. STOP
it right now!
Turn off that obnoxious “You’ve got mail” pop-up and don’t even OPEN up the
internet until you’ve spent at least ONE hour on the big project you need to get
done. (Yeah, the one you’re procrastinating about doing.)
Even if you’re a night owl like me, the early hours of the morning after sleep are
your best times to create. But do you think Picasso painted with a soap opera on,
the telephone ringing, and Parisian jazz at full blast?
Artists have studios. We have offices. The point of an office is that it should be
PRIVATE. Even if you have clients who come to your office, you invite them to
leave when the meeting is over, right?
In the same way, you’ve got to guard your mind power. Be careful who and what
you spend it on. Don’t waste it on something as inane as email.
Bet you’re thinking, “But you don’t know my job. I have to answer those emails or
someone will a) lose a million bucks; b) die of asphyxiation; c) throw themselves
off the Brooklyn bridge; d) set their boss’ toupee on fire; e) all of the above.”
Come on! It’s not the end of the world. And if it is, chances are the internet won’t
be working anyway.
If it’s that important, the person who needs to reach you will pick up the phone or
send a carrier pigeon. Get out of this trap of wasting your valuable time on silly
emails, many of which tout the latest Viagra formula or a virus that is going to
infect your computer if you don’t send that email out to twelve people in the next
five minutes. Come on.
Does the word “sucker” mean something to you? Sorry to break it to you. I’m not
talking lollipops, friend.
You want 2 and ½ hours more every day to do with as you please? Stop firing up
that email first thing in the morning and only check it 30 minutes before lunch and
30 minutes before you leave for the day. And unsubscribe from every list you’re
on—except of course my weekly ezine. Take back your time and make space in
your inbox for what really matters.
5) The force is with you—Find it!
Star Wars? I don’t think so.
The power of like-minded people, yes.
All of us have a group, a soul group if you will, of folks who are overcoming
similar issues and aspiring for similar achievements. They may be further ahead of
us or just behind us, but they are on the same track.
You want a sure-fire way to reduce your stress and get HELP on your journey?
Create a Mastermind group.
It’s not hard to do but it requires that you take inventory of what you need support
with most. Maybe you’re a new solo entrepreneur and want to grow your
business—Look for like-minded new solo entrepreneurs who also want to grow
their businesses.
Maybe you want to lose weight—Find four to six other folks who really want to
make it happen and get started! (I personally lost 185 pounds one time. Yes
indeed . . . my ex-boyfriend.)
Maybe you want to dispose of your mother-in-law. (Sorry, I love my mother-inlaw so I can’t help you here.) Kindly contact Mr. and Mrs. Smith for that one.
The point is identify a clear goal for your group and then invite four to seven
people who will commit to attending regularly.
I have one Mastermind of powerful professional women speakers that meets
monthly and another internet marketing mastermind that meets weekly. Which
group gets more done? Take a guess. (Duh.)
The more committed your group and the more focused and frequent your meetings,
the more progress you will make in the least amount of time.
What do you do at the meetings? First, I recommend buying an egg timer or a
stopwatch so that you divide your time evenly and avoid letting anyone hog the
meeting. A good format is for each person to tell what they’ve been working on,
ask the group for input, ideas, and feedback, and then in the last minute, say what
they will work on for next week. If you do this each time, I guarantee you will see
results fast.
For some really super ideas about how to form and manage your Mastermind,
check out Meet and Grow Rich: How to Easily Create and Operate Your Own
“Mastermind” Group for Health, Wealth, and More by Joe Vitale and Bill
Hibbler. If you’re a Mastermind novice, this book will give you lots of food for
thought. If you’re a Master Masterminder (my high school English teacher would
be snapping her red pen right about now), this book will give you lots of great new
ideas to implement in your group.
What if you’ve got a lax member who hasn’t attended meetings regularly and
whose uncle has died at least five times, thus preventing this member from making
meetings? (I thought only cats had nine lives until I taught college and heard all
my students’ stories of why they’d missed class. Wish they’d had as much
creativity on their assignments!)
As a group, you’ve got to set attendance requirements—or or at least guidelines—
and then call that member on it if they aren’t complying. One rotten apple is just
that, rotten. And the whole group will have to back paddle to get that person up to
speed when they do get around to attending a meeting.
Hey, don’t waste your time. You’re dealing with an energy vampire. (Remember
section #1, hon’? If not, go back right now and memorize it! It will save you tons
of grief.)
Invite someone else and un-invite that person. It’s as easy as saying, “We’ve
noticed you haven’t been able to come to the meetings as we all agreed and we’d
like you to look for another group that can better serve you.”
Forget about being popular; it’s more important to be effective. I guarantee that if
you create a force field of fantastic like-minded friends/colleagues around you, you
will become unstoppable!
6) Now shut up, would you?
Oh my goodness, I’m sounding like that @#sshole you used to go out with.
Forgive me. Let me rephrase that. Time to quiet down.
Yes, one of the most ignored secrets of success is that you need to go inward and
check in with yourself every day.
This is the intuitive part of business and it’s absolutely essential to your success
and balance at home and at work.
Start to make a practice of taking five minutes in the morning in which you ask for
guidance. I personally close my eyes and ask, “Who do I need to call today?” I
can’t tell you how many times I call those folks and they say, “Oh, I was just going
to call you to talk to you about speaking for our event” or “I thought about you
yesterday and I really need a coaching session.”
When we harness our intuitive powers along with our intellectual faculties, we are
able to get in the flow. Hey, why paddle when you can be in the flow?
So, get quiet and be still. Ask for guidance. Ask for it from your self, your soul,
your essence, whatever you want to call that part of yourself. And ask for it from
your Higher Power. You won’t be disappointed.
Remember that what you have to offer the world is absolutely invaluable and you
are the only one who can deliver it in just the way you do. Someone needs you,
your service, your ideas, your support, your GBK (gentle butt kick).
Unplug everything—the answering machine, the computer, your mean Auntie’s
respirator (did I say that??)—and get plugged in to your CREATIVE SPIRIT.
You’ll find lots of spirited solutions come your way in those delicious moments of
silence. And you’ll come out of those five minutes feeling fresh and clean as a
York Peppermint Pattie.
Shhhhhhhh. Try it. You’ll like it.
7) Take it from Geena and the Amazons
Sounds like some girl rock band doesn’t it? But I’m talking about Geena Davis,
one of America’s sweethearts. Did you know that beautiful, smart, sexy, and
glamorous Geena Davis as also world-ranked as a professional archer?? (Don’t ask
me how I know this, I won’t tell you.)
Well, it kinda makes sense, Geena having such a kick-butt Amazon spirit and all.
She was the perfect pick for Thelma and Louise, wasn’t she? (If you didn’t see
that classic chick flick, you have my permission to pause now and order it
The Amazons of classical legends were a tribe of women warriors who supposedly
cut off their right breasts so they could shoot a bow and arrow with precision and
I’m not advocating you do that at home. (And goodness knows, many of us have
had to go under the knife since one out of eight women face breast cancer at some
point in our lives.) But the idea of the Amazon spirit, of having such a singular,
unwavering focus that you are willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve your
goal is powerful.
If you’ve ever tried archery, you know what a steady focus on your target you must
have. Or maybe you tried other forms of target practice. Hey, when I was a kid,
my brother and I had tons o’ fun shooting his bb gun. We chose a pretty big
bullseye, his antique bed. We had a good success rate—the dings on the
headboard attest to that.
Let’s you and I do a little experiment. Draw a big bullseye on your refrigerator
(your toddler will be very happy to assist with this). Now wrap a bandana around
your child’s, spouse’s, or other two-legged creature’s eyes. Give them a very ripe
tomato and spin them around and around. (This is a pretty fun experiment, isn’t
Now stop them, point them in any direction and ask them to hit the bullseye.
Were they successful? Or did your energy vampire Auntie just get splattered with
a red ripe tomato? (Sorry, I have no suggestions for quick clean-up after our
So what’s the point? You can’t hit a target if you don’t keep your eyes on it! Hey,
at least we created a target. Most people have no idea what their bullseye is. So
how can you hit something that doesn’t exist?
You’ve got to have a mission, friend. Otherwise you’re just going to
somnambulate around in your life. (That’s just a fancy, schmansy way to say
sleepwalk. I gotta use my PhD for something…) And then when you’re about to
be six feet under, you’ll do what most people do and whine, “I wish I had bungee
jumped off Niagara Falls” or “I wish I hadn’t married that sloth” or “I wish I had
created those crochet garbage can covers I always dreamt of.” You fill in the wish
for yourself.
This is not a dress rehearsal, dear. Carpe diem is not a fish. It’s time to banish the
crutch of “being confused” and wake up to why you’re here.
You don’t have much time, remember?
Real soon, I’m going to be offering a report, “How to Get Off Your Butt and Get
On Your Purpose.” I’ll let you know about it.
In the meantime, just create a sentence or two about why you deserve to live (and I
mean that in the nicest sense)! Why are you here? What benefits do you provide
to others?
One version of my mission is “I help people get un-stuck and create lives and work
they love!” I have several others. That’s the thing. Your mission will evolve.
The thing is to get moving!
Adios, Au Revoir, Aufedersein,
I hope you’ve enjoyed the time we’ve spent together as much as I have. It’s been a
privilege to give you these seven easy steps to overcome overwhelm. I’m afraid,
however, that our time is wasted.
Wasted, that is, if you don’t take action.
Get off your “but” and do something! What concrete, specific action will take as a
result of reading this report?
If you say “I’m going to exercise more,” my personal butt-kicking carrier pigeon is
going to fly in your window and peck you on the nose. It won’t be pretty sight.
(Remember The Birds?? He was the feathered star.)
I’m sure you’ve heard the SMART acronym for goals? It’s got to be Specific,
Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound. So, create a goal now
that is just that. Here’s a sample that would leave even my crass little carrier
pigeon cooing…
“I will now exercise by doing a yoga class with my yoga DVD every other day
from 7:30 to 8:30 am, starting this Monday. If I miss a day, I will make it up the
next day. Either way, I will put in at least three 60-minute sessions of yoga every
See the difference??
Now write your goal here, just ONE thing you will do as a result of reading this
report, starting within the next 24 hours.
And if you find yourself using your excuses, those beguiling “buts,” would you
kindly imagine me right there with you, frowning, hounding you until you start?
I’m good at that, I assure you. And I have a loaded bb gun in the attic—nothing
like a little pellet to get you hopping—and lots of frequent flyer miles saved up to
whisk me to your side . . .
To your success, onwards!
P.S. I highly recommend that you scramble right over to my website this minute
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Disclaimer and Copyright
Every effort has been made to accurately represent how one can overcome
overwhelm in seven easy steps. Examples provided herein are not to be taken as a
promise or guarantee of anything. Our opinions on the subject matter are
contained in this report. Many factors will determine your actual results and no
guarantees are made that you will achieve any results from the ideas, strategies,
and examples provided in this report.
This publication is copyrighted. Reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this
report or any part of it, by any means electronic or otherwise, without the express
and written consent of Dr. Barnsley Brown, is strictly prohibited and is a violation
of international copyright laws that may be prosecuted.
All contents © 2009, Barnsley Brown and Spirited Solutions. All rights reserved.