My client sat before me an absolute wreck. She had been beaten down. By what, I had not yet heard. Her face was ashen and her eyes red and puffy. I could tell from these signs and her slumped posture that things weren’t going well.

“What’s happening?” I asked.

The menacing list of all of the things that were going wrong came oozing out of her like hot lava. There was an abusive client that had sworn at her and her staff, ridiculing them for their apparent lack of skill. There was the upcoming staff wages and a short list of current projects with no long term proposals in the future. There was fighting to get paid for the work already completed. There was exhaustion, sickness and loss of hope. There was so much to do that even being at our coaching session was causing anxiety.

I had already started the list, so I asked, “What else are you overwhelmed by?”

My client seemed confused by my question and rightfully so. I rarely ask my clients to continue to babble on about what’s going wrong. What I usually want to know is what actions are my clients taking and in what order and what system are they using.

This was different though

“What else is pending? What else is about to topple down on top of you?” I clarified.

She continued to talk and I continued my list. When she was all talked out and the menacing ooze solidified, we had a list. It was a list not to overwhelm but to oversee. It was a list that was outside of her. A manageable list. A list to look at NOT to be consumed by.

I then asked her some strategic questions to get the list in a priority order. She was now sitting upright and alert. The color had returned to her face and she was expressive. The mood had changed dramatically. We were getting somewhere.

Once we had the priority order, I had her schedule herself for 3 appointments to tackle the top three things on the list and the ones that were causing the most anxiety. The sigh of relief was audible.

And then it was Champagne time! The weight had been lifted and she was back to her bouncy, energetic self. The shadow that was towering over my client was gone and in its place light shining onto the small manageable pieces that were put into a system that worked. Once again, life was good.

How to avoid overwhelm

  • Get a list of all that is bothering you or causing anxiety
  • Prioritise the list into the most urgent – you cannot pay your staff without money so sending invoices and following up on unpaid ones becomes more important than the customer who yelled to loud
  • Book the top 3 priorities as appointments in your calendar for the next day or the day after
  • Book a time to review the remaining items on your list
  • Learn to make decisions faster by practicing making decisions faster


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