The story of the girl who underestimated, got overloaded, and is actively preventing overwhelm and burnout.
“You should be doing hundreds of these a day,” the physical therapist said as she watched me activate my quad muscles and try to straighten my recently operated on leg. I laughed. She didn’t.
The movement is small and if you have a perfectly functioning knee and quad muscles, it’s basically like asking someone to check a box on a piece of paper. However, having recently had ACL surgery with nerves under repair in my thigh area, this request was the equivalent of asking me to go through twenty steps hundreds of times a day. I have to really concentrate to activate those muscles since I can’t feel them so what used to come naturally now requires me to consciously concentrate on each step. Okay brain, tell leg to move. Stare at quad muscles and SQUEEZE (for some reason I have noticed that in this step I also naturally crease my forehead together and wrinkle my nose like I’m the genie Samantha from the old “Bewitched” television show). Then, watch foot to see if heel slightly lifted. Nope. Okay. Try again. Burn eyes into quad. Oooh yes. Now hold. H…o…l…d it… 8, 9, 10. Okay and release. Now repeat.”
The good news, it’s getting better and more automatic. The bad news, it’s Christmas time, end of year for my business, and my head is literally in a tailspin. Today I woke up feeling completely overwhelmed by the journey that was in front of me as I considered how I was going to increase my quad presses throughout the day in addition to all of the other physical therapy exercises required and appointments.
So what am I doing about it?
- PAUSE. First, I took a pause and let myself enjoy my morning coffee with my acoustic covers Pandora music station for 20 minutes. I needed to let my brain settle!
- PRIORITIZE. Second, I revisited my list of “to dos” and added additional time requirements to my recovery workstream. I noted what was completed, in progress, and not yet started for each stream at a high level – both personally and professionally. I took some time to see what I could ditch or delegate before trying to map out which milestones needed adjustments on timing or magnitude.
- STRUCTURE. Third, recognizing that my recovery is one of my highest priorities, I created a structure that would work within my existing priorities and boundaries. I blocked time on my calendar for the morning, lunch, and evenings and then added a post-it to my computer to complete at least 5 quad presses after each meeting.
- COMMUNICATE. I asked my current officemate (aka my husband) to hold me accountable by checking in with me at the end of the day and gave him some visibility that it might disrupt some of our routines with our children, which gave us a chance to decide what to delegate or ditch or design differently.
- CELEBRATE. As I write this, I’m celebrating that I’m already at 200 presses and it’s not even lunch time. By allowing myself to break it down and reminding myself of the priority it is for me, what felt impossible has suddenly become very much completed and on track for bonus points (at least in my head)! I also now recognize I can revisit my “to do” list as my quad presses are not taking up as much headspace as I anticipated since my brain is developing shortcuts to my twenty steps as I increase frequency.
As I write this, I have shifted my mindset massively with just one small win and this one literally only took a few hours. When a workstream or project is more complex, it can sometimes take a bit more time for me to change my mindset and work through it – particularly when I need input from multiple stakeholders – but my process is the same.
So, I invite you to celebrate with me as I quad press my way back to full mobility!
And, if you feel overwhelm starting to set in for you, please consider trying the steps above and do join me for one of our free 30-minute power sessions in December or January on “Tackling Overwhelm.” Sign up here. My collaborator, Lindsey Eynon, and I have some great tips, provide you with a practical tool to help with the prioritization step of the process, and even gift you some communication templates to help you create visibility and co-design with your colleagues and organization.
As always, if you need help preventing overwhelm, prioritizing, and/or developing stronger trust, visibility, and communication within your team or organization, do not hesitate to contact Livthentic for an exploratory discussion or schedule directly on calendly. I see your spark and want to help you grow it into a flame. You can also join our mailing list to stay in touch or follow us on Linkedin, Facebook, or Instagram.