6 Tips to Overcome Executive Overwhelm-itus

6 Tips to Overcome Executive Overwhelm-itus 150 150 Jennifer Ledet

There is too much to do. There is not enough time to get it done. We’ve all been there.

As an executive leader, senior level executive, CEO, or growing business professional, your biggest, hairiest, most important roles are overseeing employees and managing the flow of work. If you’re suffering from overwhelm-itus or are prone to frequent bouts of this nasty syndrome, take heart, as you are not alone. As someone who goes through seasons of this, I can tell you that understanding overwhelm is the first step.

Try these 6 Tips to Overcome Executive Overwhelm-itus:


1. Get out of reactive mode. It’s an easy place to hang out, but it will kill you. If you’re constantly reacting to what comes your way, you’re just like a pinball, bouncing from one thing to another. Problem is, you never make headway in any one area and wind up being even more stressed out and, well, more overwhelmed. Take a few minutes, step back, and look at the big picture.

2. Prioritize. The word priority originally meant the very first or prior thing. Note that it was singular. Only much later did we try to make the term plural. In reality, it is impossible to have multiple first things. Let’s go back to the original meaning and intent of the word. While you’re taking that step back, think about what is truly THE most important thing that you need to do right now. Do it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

3. Delegate. In order to do this effectively, you need to get over yourself. Accept that a.) You can’t do it all, and b.) Someone may actually be able to do it better than you. (Gasp!) Analyze the task and the team members you have around you who might be able to help. Match the task to the person, give very explicit instructions and even training if necessary, and let them roll with it. Monitor, follow up, and give feedback. Bam! That’s my delegating workshop encapsulated in a couple of sentences, but it’s really not as difficult as you’re making it out to be.

4. Dump it. I’m sure you’d love to take your whole to-do list and just dump it, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about using real “strategery” here, people. While you’re applying tip #1 above, really take a look at what you’re saying you’ve just got to do. Do you really gotta do ALL of those things? Could you, mayhaps, say buh-bye to any of those tasks? Analyze the consequences of dumping the least important tasks and also consider the ROI of completing those tasks. If the consequences are… inconsequential, and the ROI is minimal, maybe you should consider letting it go. Or if you can’t delegate it and it simply MUST be done, you could consider applying tip #5.

5. Delay it. I am making a case here for intentional procrastination. Yep. You heard me right. Under SOME conditions in the workplace the right decision is to simply delay dealing with a task. Hit the “delay button” when you need more information or expertise from someone who currently has no access to the outside world, or when you need approval from someone in a higher pay grade than yours. Use this technique on a very limited basis, otherwise you’ll find yourself in full blown procrastination mode. Not. A. Good. Thing.

6. Breathe. A necessity. Reframe how you’re thinking about the situation and remember that when your brain perceives something as a problem, it actually releases hormones that cause you more stress. “This is not a problem, it’s an opportunity.” Keep repeating that as you practice deep breathing exercises and apply the previous five techniques.

We teach best what we most need to learn.

There’s a good bit of wisdom in that quote. Lest you think that I’ve conquered overwhelm, I confess that I still have to deal with it from time to time. Hopefully, these business and stress management tips will help you to overcome overwhelm so that you can be the leader you were meant to be.


  • How do you deal with that feeling of too much to do and not enough time to do it?
  • What are some tips that you’ve found helpful for overcoming overwhelm?
  • Please leave a comment below and share your insights with our community.

Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems.

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