Machen MacDonald: Get over the overwhelm |

Machen MacDonald: Get over the overwhelm

Machen MacDonald

Overwhelm by definition means ‘strong or a very great amount.’ Too many choices, things to do, decisions to make, and questions to answer are all contributors to a sense of overwhelm. The thought of not having enough resources in the form of time, money, or energy to accomplish an objective contributes to overwhelm as well. History has shown there is never a shortage of resources only a shortage of resourcefulness.

We each have varying capacities, in different areas of our lives, of which we experience an overload or overflow. Once we feel the cumulative stimuli to be near what we believe our capacity to be, we drift toward overwhelm or even feeling out of control. Studies show that when we feel we are at our max capacity to handle something we actually have 20-40% more capacity than we think.

However, when we collapse the future into the present moment it can often feel like there is too much coming at us in any one moment and overwhelm is born. If we take time out of the equation and remember that time exists so we don’t have to do everything all at once, we can bring a bit of ease back into our experience.

There is a solution for dramatically minimizing the feelings of overwhelm. The remedy is segmenting.

Support Local Journalism

No matter how big your to do list is, you can realistically only do one thing at a time effectively. Therefore, prioritization is the precursor to effective segmenting. In order to prioritize well, we must have a good and deep sense of our hierarchy of values. When our values are clear, our decisions are easy.

When we find ourselves going around and round when it comes to making a decision of what to do next, it is usually because we either have competing values, or we have gone unconscious to the aspect of time. We in essence feel like we are in the deep end. We need to get back to the shallow end or at least get land back in our view.

Next time you feel overwhelmed take a moment to step back and do the following:

Take inventory of where you actually are in relation to your overall goals, projects and to do list. You may not be as far away as you feel.

Prioritize the next three most relevant and realistic things to do that will bring you closer to your goal. Keep in mind some may be single action items while others are small projects made up of two or more actions. Determine what is the best use of the next segment of time you have available to move you closer to the completion of your overall goal. If you have 20 minutes between now and your next appointment you may make a different decision of what to do than if you had an hour at the end of the day.

Claim your overall segment intention. What do you want to feel or bring forward in yourself throughout the next segment? It may be confidence, resourcefulness, perseverance, or courageousness. Resist the trap of thinking once you accomplish the task, project, or goal you will then feel what you want to feel. Claim it and feel it as you go about your segment and even your day while doing the things that need to be done and meeting with the people you need to meet.

This week, the next time you feel overwhelm starting to creep in, remember these 4 steps to help you increase your capacity to get things done effectively.

Make it up, make it fun, and get it done!

#1 bestselling author Machen P. MacDonald, CPCC, CCSC is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley, CA. He helps business people gain more confidence and clarity to live their ideal life. He can be reached at and 530-273-8000

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Connect with needs and opportunities from

Get immediate access to organizations and people in our area that need your help or can provide help during the Coronavirus crisis.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.