time management

Time Management Coaches Get Overwhelmed, Too: My Personal Process for Beating Overwhelm

April 29, 2024

Reading Time: 10 minutes

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Time Management Coaches Get Overwhelmed, Too: My Personal Process for Beating Overwhelm

Being a time management coach doesn’t mean I never get overwhelmed – so today, I’m sharing my own personal process for beating overwhelm before it gets out of control! Tune in to hear the 5 questions I ask myself when I feel like I’m drowning in things to do, plus how I take care of myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed.


Have you ever been late?

I mean, that’s probably a silly question, right? We’ve all been late for something at some point in our lives, even if we make a point to be as on time or early as possible. Sometimes things just happen.

One day last fall, I was running late. It was the first day of a motherhood and business retreat taking place at this sprawling ranch about 45 minutes from my house. The problem was, I didn’t realize it was 45 minutes from my house until about 30 minutes before the event started.

Usually I’m super on top of keeping my calendar updated with drive time, or transition time – because I know from experience that one of the biggest reasons why we run late is because we underestimate the time we need to get from one place to the next. 

And in this case, I definitely underestimated. 

By the time I rolled up at the retreat, the first session had already started and I completely missed all of the introductions. Fortunately, the retreat hosts gave me, and one other straggler, the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the rest of the group. 

So I said something like, Hi! I’m Anna Dearmon Kornick – and I apologize for being so tardy. Would you believe I’m a Time Management Coach? 

The whole room burst into laughter… and at the break one of the organizers came up to me and said – I love that you were late. We can be friends now. 

I laughed it off… I mean… couldn’t we still be friends even if I’m not late? 

Time Management Coaches Get Overwhelmed, Too

But here’s the thing y’all – being a time management coach doesn’t somehow make me perfect at time management. Being a time management coach doesn’t mean I’m always on time, and it definitely doesn’t mean that I never experience overwhelm. 

And if I’m being honest, when those things DO happen, when I’m late, when I feel overwhelmed, when I miss a deadline – I can be really hard on myself because I feel like there’s even MORE pressure for me to get it right because that’s what I do for a living. 

So pulling back the curtain and sharing what I’m about to share in this episode – I want you to know that it isn’t super easy for me to share this. Overwhelm is messy. It doesn’t feel good. It sucks… And when it feels like everyone around you expects that you never get overwhelmed… and then you do… that can make it even worse.

But – that’s where being a time management coach really comes in handy because I’ve spent years exploring overwhelm and using time management and our unique personalities as the tools to avoid it when we can, and overcome it when we have to.

I’m a time management coach, but I get overwhelmed, too.

So today, I’m giving you an unfiltered look at 

  • How I spot the early signs overwhelm before they get out of control
  • The 5 questions I ask myself whenever I realize I’m overwhelmed
  • The simple, step-by-step process I use to overcome overwhelm 
  • How I take care of myself while working through a period of overwhelm

My Person Process for Beating Overwhelm

It comes down to answering five questions:

  • First, How did I get here?
  • Second, What can do DO about these things?
  • Third, What is currently on my plate?
  • Fourth, What can I remove or reschedule to create more time for myself?
  • And Fifth, What boundaries do I need to set so I don’t overwork myself and negatively impact my health and wellbeing?

Now, let’s look at this one by one. 

1. How did I get here?

Ooh y’all – overwhelm can show up from any number of causes. Overwhelm can come from saying yes to too many things, to feeling a heavy burden of difficult decisions that need to be made. Overwhelm can be a result of worry over things you can’t control, or possibilities that may never even come to fruition. And what I’ve found is that a lot of people, when they feel overwhelmed, they’ll say “I’m overwhelmed.” And it just kind of stops there. 

But, the only way you can get to the other side of overwhelm and learn the lessons that will help you avoid it in the future is to ask yourself – How did I get here? Or more specifically, What is causing me to feel this way?

When I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed… and usually I start to notice overwhelm whenever I’m moving a LOT of tasks to the next day, and then the next day before I didn’t have enough space to complete them on the day that I’d hoped. When I see the tasks piling up and the deadlines looming closer, I know that the feelings of overwhelm are coming soon. 

Recently overwhelm for me felt like a million things swirling around in my head. Like I couldn’t grab a hold of any of it, it was like a tornado of thoughts. So… I sat down with my trusty notebook and wrote down this question: What is causing me to feel overwhelmed?

And one by one, I wrote out the things that were bothering me. 

Now, I didn’t do a full on brain dump. You’ve probably heard my stance on Brain Dumps before back in episode 90. And some people give advice to do a brain dump whenever you feel overwhelmed in order to get all of your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. The problem is, when you’re trying to get to the root of overwhelm, getting all of your thoughts onto paper only makes you feel more overwhelmed! And that’s not helpful!

That’s why I just stick to answering the question – What is causing me to feel overwhelmed right now? So in doing this exercise, I wrote down about 5 different things. And once I got to a point where my brain felt calmer… because I was getting the things that were bothering me out of my head and on to paper… I could see these 5-6 things that were causing me to feel overwhelmed.

That then brings me to step 2:

2. What can I DO about each of these things?

You’ve probably heard the Serenity Prayer before. It goes like this:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference”

Sometimes we can’t DO ANYTHING about the things that are overwhelming us. Sometimes we get overwhelmed about things we literally cannot change or have any impact on. And that’s why getting this list of what is causing your overwhelm onto paper is so important, because it can help you spot the things that you, as a person, by yourself can’t do anything about. And if you can’t do anything about it… you have to decide if you want to accept that thing and move on. 

Making this list of what’s contributing to your overwhelm can help you see the things you can’t change and make the decision to let go of them. 

But, very often, the things that are overwhelming you, causing you worry or taking up space in your brain CAN be impacted by actions you can take. So for each thing on your list, try to create a next step. An action item that you can take that will help you make a dent, make progress, make an impact in whatever that item is.

So for example, one of the things on my overwhelm list recently was “I don’t understand how our new insurance works.” And I had to think… Okay… What can I DO about this? A few of the ideas I wrote down were

  • Read our benefits materials and take notes
  • Make a list of questions based on what I don’t understand
  • Schedule an appointment with someone in customer service and ask thoughtful questions

And suddenly, I had a plan for tackling this thing that was contributing to my overwhelm. By creating this short list of things that I could DO, I took the power away from the overwhelm and gave it back to myself. 

Once I make a list of a few action items for each of the things on my overwhelm list, I decide what I’ll do myself, but I also take a look at what I can delegate to someone else. Maybe Scott, my husband, can handle some of the initial insurance research before I reach out to customer service. It’s so important to remember that we don’t have to do everything by ourselves all the time. 

3. What is currently on my plate?

Now that I’ve got my overwhelm cause list, and some action items, and maybe I’ve delegated some of the pieces – now I need to get a handle on everything that’s currently on my plate. 

Because there’s more going on, more moving pieces – or moving projects – as I like to call them, than just the things that are causing my overwhelm. 

If we’re working together inside the It’s about Time Academy All-Stars group, then you know that a Moving Projects list is an inventory of all of the projects in your personal and professional lives that are currently in motion. Something with multiple steps, and you’ve already taken step one. 

One of the biggest misconceptions about overwhelm is that it’s a result of how many hours we’re working, but the truth is our overwhelm often comes from the variety – the quantity of projects we’re currently working toward at once. Diluted priorities lead to delayed results. And when you’ve got a whole bunch of projects on your to-do list, you’re not able to make noticeable progress on any one single project. So then the lack of progress becomes frustrating and the cycle continues. 

So – to make a moving projects list, I just make a list in no particular order of the high-level buckets of things, the projects that I’m working on at the moment. Right now I’ve got about 6 major projects on my plate, but each of those 6 big buckets could have anywhere from 5-15 sub projects beneath each one. All of those tasks and to-dos add up real quick. 

For you, this might look like having a list of all of your current clients, or events, or house projects, or whatever is taking up space on your calendar and in your brain.

Once I’ve made the initial moving projects list, it’s time to get ruthless. The Pareto Principle tells us that 20% of our inputs result in 80% of our outputs. In other words, 20% of your clients likely give you 80% of your revenue. If you own a shop, 20% of your merchandise is probably 80% of your total sales. When everything feels equally important, the Pareto Principle reminds us that there’s almost always going to be a 20% that gives us the most bang for our buck… so some things are just more important than others.

That’s why I rank each of my currently moving projects in order of importance. This is huge for helping me filter and make decisions whenever everything feels like it has to be done at once. It creates an order of operations for me. First come 1:1 Coaching clients, then group clients, then speaking clients, then the podcast and so on and so on. 

I actually have my moving projects list on a small white board next to my desk with the ranking of each project on the board. I can see it while I work, and it keeps me in check.

Another way that I’ll sometimes rank my moving projects is to look at what’s closest to completion. Are there any projects that have been hanging out on my list for a while that are sooo close to being done, and if I can knock those out it’ll create more mental and calendar capacity for me. 

4. What can I remove or reschedule to create more time for myself?

The fourth step in my personal process to overcome overwhelm is to create more time for myself. As much as I wish being a time management coach came with my very own Hermione Granger time turner, that’s just not the case. So I have to look for opportunities to create time for myself in the upcoming 2-3 weeks by seeing what I can remove or reschedule. What are the nonessential things that I’ve said yes to that I need to now turn down to honor other commitments? What are the flexible commitments I’ve made, like scheduled podcast interviews that could be pushed forward a few months? This is a short term solution for creating time to tackle those overwhelm overcoming action items. 

5. What boundaries do I need to set so I don’t overwork myself and negatively impact my health and wellbeing?

And finally – because being in a place of overwhelm can make it very tempting to work longer hours, stay up later, work on weekends, and push yourself to the other side… I make some concrete decisions about what boundaries need to look like for myself until I get to the other side of this period of overwhelm.

Here are my current boundaries in this season:

  • I’m saying no to podcast interviews scheduled for my show until the current interviews are all published. 
  • I’m saying No to podcast interviews on other shows unless it’s truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Like if Amy Porterfield reaches out, I’ll say yes in a heartbeat. 
  • I’m saying no to unpaid speaking engagements, and no to paid speaking engagements that are below my speaking fee. 
  • I’m saying yes to working out twice a week. 

I love all of those things. Podcast interviews for my show and being on other shows, and I love speaking. But pausing those activities is going to create more space to tackle the cause of my overwhelm. I’ve even written down these activities that I’m currently pausing on that moving projects whiteboard I mentioned. 

And working out at least twice a week – whenever we’re in a place of overwhelm, we can feel guilty taking time for ourselves. But if we neglect our health, we’re not able to show up as our  best self. So during my weekly planning session, I look for 2-3 opportunities to get in a workout during the week as a commitment to myself. And, being specific about working out at least twice a week, isn’t putting additional unnecessary pressure on myself to work out every day or five times a week. If I get in two workouts, that’s great. 

Plus, as Elle Woods so eloquently stated, Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands, they just don’t! 

Let’s Recap: My Personal Process for Beating Overwhelm

Here’s a quick recap of those 5 questions: 

First, How did I get here?

Second, What can do DO about these things?

Third, What is currently on my plate?

Fourth, What can I remove or reschedule to create more time for myself?

And Fifth, What boundaries do I need to set so I don’t overwork myself and negatively impact my health and wellbeing? 

Yes – Even time management coaches get overwhelmed, but fortunately I’ve got years of experience and hours upon hours of research that have helped me create methods and frameworks for making the most of my time, and helping you make the most of yours. 

Next time you feel overwhelmed, take these five questions and work through them step by step and see how you feel on the other side. 

I’d love to know how you combat overwhelm, so head over to the It’s About Time podcast community on Facebook and let us know at abouttimepodcast.com/community.

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