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Home > Blog > Overwhelmed? How to focus on controlling the controllable

Tuesday 29th Aug 2017

Overwhelmed? How to focus on controlling the controllable


The business world is changing and moving faster than ever. Change is a constant – not next year, not in a month’s time, not next week…TODAY! The feeling of overwhelm and being overwhelmed is ever present and the skill to control the controllable is key.

Every morning in Africa a lion wakes up. It knows it must out run the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.

Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up.

It knows it must out run the fastest lion or it will be killed.

What’s the moral?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle…when the sun comes up you better be running!


Every single day when the sun comes up we’d better be running – stealing the edge on the day, thinking, feeling and acting one step ahead of the competition, one step ahead of the market, anticipating the future trends and turns on the road – pro-actively creating the route map.

Wow…and that’s before you even factor in the day job!

Overwhelmed?  Yes!

And these feelings can actually put you in a state of analysis paralysis where despite your best intentions you end up doing nothing or you focus your time & energy on things you can do but shouldn’t be doing. The small, menial tasks that are not going to make any big changes anytime soon.

The business landscape in which we compete today is volatile, increasingly competitive and, certainly over the long term, unpredictable. It may seem on the surface to be a hostile landscape for anyone who wishes to start or build a business by purposeful design as there are so many shifting variables.

Throughout history, challenge and adversity have forged many great successes. More millionaires and billionaires are created during stormy economic times than during times of calm. Success has always required focus, commitment, and a journey of personal mastery. For business owners, business leaders, and entrepreneurs who embrace these principles, the world today is bursting with opportunities.

Through globalization, the world has become one big business arena, and the emergence of the internet and technologies that surround it means that tools to compete are readily available to you. The pace of change is driving a never-ending surge of innovation with new ideas every day. The best ones have yet to be even thought up.

Whether you are a great inventor of new ideas, an innovator of existing ideas that reinvent the category they’re in, or a disruptor of markets through finding better ways to serve customers, the competitive edge is yours to steal. Opportunities abound.

The important thing is not to get overwhelmed.

Change will always be a constant and you cannot control everything.

Here’s how you can start to master the art of controlling the things which are controllable;

#1 Every time you say ‘yes’ to something that is unimportant, you are saying ‘no’ to something that is important.

There really is huge value in getting good at saying ‘no’.

Say ‘no’ to your colleague who wants to spread their negativity and just complain about their job, sapping your energy.

Say ‘no’ to the extra project which you don’t have the time to devote all your energy, enthusiasm and passion to because of other commitments and priorities.

Say ‘no’ to the person who laughs at your dreams and goals, and makes you doubt yourself.

Say ‘no’ to the personal invite that means quality time away from other activities.

Remember you can’t be all things to all people. Know your priorities. Know your goals. Know what needs to get done over the coming weeks, months and years for you to feel that you have played your best game.

And, say ‘no’ to everything else. Sure, some people around you might not be happy. But would you rather live your life according to the approval, rules and demands of others, or aligned with your truth, your dreams and your goals?

What are you going to say ‘no’ to today, tomorrow, next week and next month, in order to ensure you achieve personal and professional success?

#2 Double Prioritised TO DO LIST…

At the start of every day prioritise your ‘TO DO LIST’. Simply choose the top three items and label them one, two and three.  Do item number one until you can do nothing else with it even if you have to pass it to somebody else and then wait for it, you can then move on.

Do everything you can do to item number one.  Then before you move onto item number two, re-prioritise the list or in other words go back through the list and make absolutely certain that item number two has now become item number one.  This may be because you have had phone calls, e-mails or people have visited and have changed the priority of the list.

At every stage you’ll find that you are always acting with the highest priority items and if you do that it doesn’t matter if some of the things on the list simply don’t get done.

#3 Have a Clear Desk…

It really does work and this is why.

Information that you receive from your peripheral vision, that’s the side of your eyes, hits you subliminally, that means below the threshold and has more emotional content.  If you have ever seen a film on the big screen then seen the same film on a small screen, you know it doesn’t carry the same power.


Because you are seeing things all in your central vision on a small screen, whereas on a big screen you are picking things up out of the corner of your eyes and that has more emotional content.

In the same way if you leave information, whether this be reports, files, letters, etc, on the side of your desk you’ll see them out of the corner of your eye and those reports will now get you saying “remember me, you’ve got to do me.” A clear desk policy will create increased focus and concentration and help you burn through more work than ever before!

#4 Do it, Delegate it, Dump it or Diary it.

When you pick something up make sure that you deal with it…only once…or up to the point you can’t do anymore and you need to either hand it off or get input from someone else.

Next time you have a pile of papers, emails or post try applying the four D’s principle as you go through it: Do it, Delegate it, Dump it or Diary it.

It’s always good to do your sifting next to the waste paper bin as well!

#5 Allow for thinking time at work…

It’s so easy to get caught on the hamster wheel continuously doing the same things the same way without making time to STOP, THINK and EXPLORE better options and more effective ways.

It’s a MUST for all business professionals – whatever your role to create quality thinking time to work ‘ON’ your business and life. Try blocking appointments in your diary with yourself even if it’s just 30 minutes. What’s that appointment for?

It’s an appointment with yourself for thinking time – knowing that the time you spend working ‘ON’ your life and business will make you truly effective and not just efficient when you go into the doing and working ‘IN’ mode.

#6 Be efficient and effective

Efficient is doing things right and effective is doing the right things right! Are you efficient and effective in how you manage your daily / weekly diary, tasks and priorities?

Remember my story at the beginning, every morning in Africa a lion wakes up. It knows it must out run the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.

Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must out run the fastest lion or it will be killed.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle…when the sun comes up you better be running! Get your running shoes on, be fast out the blocks and control the controllable!


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