with greg layton

The Inner Chief is for leaders, professionals and small business owners who want to accelerate their career and growth. Our guest chiefs and gurus share powerful stories and strategies so you can have more purpose, influence and impact in your career.

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In today’s minisode, I’m going to cover my top three tips on beating overwhelm.

Everyone who is in a senior role in an organisation is getting crushed, under the pump, got endless meetings to attend, a thousand tasks to execute strategy and run operations, needy clients, suppliers, staff that have higher expectations than ever before from their leaders, email, social media, telephone calls, you name it. Then at home, you're probably trying to be a better parent, trying to get fit, you want to spend more time with your friends, and organise amazing holidays. It is just so hard to find that balance.

So how do you find a way to beat the overwhelm that comes as a result of all of those incredibly challenging, but also important activities? It would be quite a challenge to work out which of them to give up. I would say that beating overwhelm is in the top three of all-time requests I get from clients.

One of my favourite coaching questions is, “What would it take for me to make a step change performance improvement?” And nearly always, people say that feeling more organised is on top of their list.

So I just want to share three really important things that are going to help you beat overwhelm and get on top of your game so you're more present, in flow and love your work. 

Mind maps

Chief, if you've not used mind maps before to beat overwhelm, then now is the time. A mind map is almost like a helicopter view of all of the key things that are going on in your life. It's categorised into no more than seven core categories.

That might be team leadership, or reporting, or it might be key projects, operations, sales, your life, fitness, family, finances etc. You start with a set of categories on top and you essentially take everything that's rattling around in your brain and you get it down on paper.

I've been using mind maps for more than 15 years and I use them as a sign-off on a Friday and a reconnect on a Monday. So on Friday afternoon, I sit down with my mind map and I add on any little thing that's rattling around upstairs. Maybe something I've got to do for a client. Maybe something I've got to consider for the sales of the business or some marketing that we're doing.

I make sure that I use that as a place to store all of the most important activities in my life, and I make it clearly categorised.

Then, check in regularly, maybe two, three times a week. It should also bring you back and let you see what's most important in your life and where the key priorities are, or the most important point of focus, because things might be broken in certain areas.

Getting in flow – and staying there

There’s a great book called, Stillness is a key, by Ryan Holiday, and he talks a lot about how high performers over centuries have known the power of using flow – which might be meditation, exercise, art, music – to calm the mind and be present in the minute.

We now know that there's a whole lot of neurochemicals or hormones that get released when we're in that moment, which make us feel that it's like a beautiful shower for our brain and our body and a tool to reset ourselves.

However, people often mistake being in flow with not working. Actually, what you're doing is harnessing the best parts of your brain or letting your unconscious mind go to work on all those projects, ideas and thoughts. For example, podcast topics like this often come to me when I'm out on my bike riding through the hills.

Chief, these are really important and powerful ways to spend your time. You can harness creativity to get you in the moment and when you come back to work, it's like everything has a little bit more perspective.

Total ownership of your calendar

This probably won't be any news to you, but it's one we don't do too well. This is a mindset issue, Chief. Very often, we don't really take that ownership.

Ask yourself this question: “How much of my time – or what percentage – am I taking ownership?”

100% means that nothing gets in your calendar unless you vet it and you agree with it because it's a good spend of your time. So, be honest with yourself, are you taking ownership of your calendar? Because when you take ownership of that calendar, you will start to see things like the 20% of meetings that suck 80% of your energy and attention. By removing those, either by delegating or just stopping them, all of a sudden, you get 20% of your time back immediately, but you also remove 80% of the stuff that's draining you.

So, Chief, I want you to cast your mind forward a month. You've been doing mind mapping, you've been actively doing flow and exercise and meditation, and you've taken true ownership of your calendar. I guarantee you will improve the quality of your experience at work and the level of overwhelm will have dropped.

Deal hope,