Feeling Overwhelmed In Work And Life

The other day, I was scheduled for a meeting with an attorney who was interested in hiring me to coach her.

She had sent me a note that she was overwhelmed by everything going on in her life and wanted my help. We picked a time that worked for both of us. When our scheduled time came, I logged in to zoom and she wasn’t there. Three minutes later, she logged on via phone and told me that she was late for a parent teacher association meeting at school and was waiting for her Uber to arrive. I suggested that we should reschedule for a time when she could be more focused. She laughed and told me, “that will mean never” and then, ironically, she got disconnected from the call. A few minutes later, I received an email from her letting me know that she’s literally triple booked for the next three weeks. I felt overwhelmed for her as I remember my time as a litigator and feeling like I would never have time for anything else in life.

I have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t felt overwhelmed from time to time. In the hustle culture, like law firm life, overwhelmed is worn like a badge of honor, although, none of us would dare utter that word. Admitting to being overwhelmed is definitely a weakness in hustle culture. Instead, we cloak it in a package called busy. If you got more than five hours of sleep the night before and didn’t have to sleep on the yoga mat under your desk, you weren’t busy enough. We often admit we are busy and deny we are overwhelmed because we do not know how to stop the frenetic behavior that leads to the overwhelmed feeling. Why do we do this to ourselves? More than likely because we have bought into the lies of the hustle culture that we can’t get ahead without being overwhelmed.

Focusing on work often begins with good intentions; however, we can quickly and easily become overwhelmed if we do not have a plan to put some boundaries around our work so we can have a life, too. Getting the motion finalized and filed with the court, attending the networking event to build your book of business so you can make partner, drafting an answer to a complaint for your client to review, and preparing your opening statement for trial are all extremely important – yet having a balanced, healthy life is equally important.

This stressful pattern is telling you to change your life and, at some point last week, the attorney who reached out to me for help heard that message!

I wanted to share helpful strategies gleaned from my personal experience and from my work with coaching clients who are burned out, frustrated, depressed and ready to be free of the hustle culture. These strategies immediately diminish feelings of being overwhelmed so you can refocus and make some work/life balance decisions.

  • Stop what you are doing for a few minutes and take a break. Go for a short walk, sit outside under a tree, meditate, breathe deeply, go to a movie, or call a friend to have coffee and share what is going on.
  • Get a piece of paper and make two columns. In one column, list urgent things you need to do this week. In the other column, list those projects that you can delegate, hire or barter to be done.
  • Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. Unsubscribe to unnecessary e-mail, organize your desk and office to decrease clutter, get off committees, and decrease volunteering unless you have a total passion for the organization and the cause.
  • Do not spend time with people who you do not like. Assess your friends and work colleagues. Do they support and honor who you are? If they are negative and don’t share your vision for your dreams, don’t spend another minute with them.
  • Decide what is most important in your life. If you want a balanced life, you will have to make changes in your life to allow this to happen. That takes some time and planning and it will be well worth the improvement in your life!
  • Take an action step today to make a change in your life! Call a friend who will support you, take a class to get organized, or work with a coach who will motivate you to have a more balanced life.

Work with me

I know how it feels to be locked into the hustle culture. I also know how freeing it is to rid yourself of overwhelm, set healthy boundaries and have a life again. If you are ready to free yourself, click here and schedule a time for us to talk.

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