Overwhelmed? Try a Reboot (Manages Stress)

My hubby is my computer IT guy. Whenever my machine starts to run slow or isn't performing the way I know it can, I ask him what I need to do. After 17 years together, I know the first thing to try is a reboot.
Computers are a lot like people. After they've been running for a while, they start to lose track of what's going on. There's this thing called RAM which is kind of like your computer's short term memory. Whenever you start a new program on your computer, some of the RAM gets used up. Unfortunately, ending the program doesn't clear the RAM totally and it keeps “thinking” about what it was working on. Eventually, the RAM is maxed out and the computer needs to start accessing the hard drive to store this temporary information. This dramatically slows down the performance of your computer. The only way to release the information currently being held in the RAM is to reboot your machine periodically.

This is a lot like us in our careers.

As busy professionals wearing many hats, it is easy to “max out” and get overwhelmed causing our productivity to slow down dramatically. I recently had a VIP day with a client who we will call Jennifer. Jennifer came to me because she couldn't get anywhere on her professional growth. She had big plans to take her career to the next level but was overwhelmed by everything she felt she had to get done. Between keeping the bosses happy, managing her own team, staying on top of current work, developing new plans and networking… Oh and don't forget, she still had to take care of her own health and family. Jennifer was so overwhelmed that she had completely stopped work and wasted a lot of time on Facebook or finding other ways to procrastinate.

Much like an overworked computer, Jennifer had frozen and needed a reboot.

Overwhelm can vary for many but the culmination of overwhelm is often paralysis where little or no work is actually being done. Many of the professionals I work with say they are busy but busy often involves work that doesn't really accomplish any significant progress. It's busy work.

What is Busy Work?

  • Checking but not dealing with emails.
  • Attending unnecessary meetings
  • Spending time on social media under the guise of work.
  • Getting ready to get ready to do the important work.
  • Micromanaging teams.
  • Anything you can pay someone else to do better and faster than you can do it yourself.

Ultimately, busy work is anything that isn't directly related to making more money and advancing your career.

If you find satisfaction checking things off your to-do list but still don't find yourself getting ahead in your business, then you might be suffering from too much busy work and experiencing feelings of overwhelm.

Why a Reboot For Overwhelm?

Just like rebooting your computer can clear out tied up RAM and speed up performance, a personal reboot can as well. When you do a personal reboot, you take some time to really decide what is important, clear up some lose ends and get reorganized so that you can get ahead instead of constantly feeling like you are behind.

How to Perform a Personal Reboot

Rebooting your computer is as easy as shutting down all the programs and clicking the restart button. Doing a personal reboot isn't quite that easy but definitely worth doing to overcome that overwhelm and improve your overall productivity. I'm going to be sharing with you the process that I have taken many of my VIP day clients through and has dramatically increased their feelings of control and productivity. I've even done this myself several times when life starts getting in the way.

Step 1 – Schedule one day with absolutely NO obligations.

No networking, phone calls, meetings or appointments. NOTHING. This ONE day will be a huge investment in your overall success. Don't try to reboot slowly in small chunks of time. It doesn't work.

Step 2 – Gather Everything

Start making a list of all the things you need or want to do. This should be as complete a list as possible and include personal and professional items. Collect necessary paperwork and be ready to process without having to go looking later. This part of the day should take you one to two hours max.

Step 3 – Start Processing

Go through your email, papers, task list, etc… and start processing. There are five options here.

  1. Does it take less than 2 minutes, do it now.
  2. If it can be batched to do later schedule a time to complete as a batch.
  3. Can it be delegated, delegate it now.
  4. If it can be eliminated, get rid of it.
  5. Anything else that doesn't fall into one of the above options should be labeled with a priority from 1 to 5 and added to a secondary list we will look at in a moment.
This part of the process will take the bulk of your day but don't be tempted to let this take too much time to make decisions. Decide and move on quickly.

Step 4 – Prioritized Items

Now that you have a list of things that aren't scheduled in bulk, delegated or eliminated, it's time to prioritize. You've already given each task a quick priority rating so go through each of those tasks and further clarify if your initial priority rating is still accurate and how you need to schedule those priorities.  This should take you less than an hour.

Step 5 – Organize and Schedule

Begin to add your prioritized tasks to your schedule. Some of them will require multiple “appointments” with you for completion. Consider the amount of time each will take and when is the best time to work on them based on your schedule.


 You have now officially done a reboot. You've evaluated everything you have on your plate and addressed the needs accordingly.

The number one reason we feel overwhelmed and get stuck in busy work is because we don't know where to begin. By doing a reboot, we are able to better focus on the needs and priorities rather than the immediate emergencies.

Will you be doing a reboot in the near future?

Known as THE Productivity Expert, Nicole works with entrepreneurs and professionals to help them overcome their overwhelm so they can have more time for what matters most. Having lost a child at the age of 17, it is Nicole's mission to use practical and outside-the-box strategies to help entrepreneurs and professionals make the most out of their time. Nicole has also been a featured productivity expert in Inc Magazine, Fast Company, Huffington Post, USA Today and many more.