As women, we’re pretty well known for trying to ‘do it all’ – here’s a simple four-part model to use every time you’re feeling overwhelmed with work, goals, your to-do list or life in general.
The ESIP model helps you think about goals in a manageable way, free from overwhelming to-do lists.
At this time of year in particular, we can feel really overwhelmed from being busy at work, shopping for presents, family obligations, and preparation for holidays. It’s a fun, festive time of year, but if we’re already dealing with a lot of pressure in the workplace or at home, it can feel like a bit too much.
This simple four-part plan can help you at any time of year, not just Christmas holidays. We’re living in a world that’s pretty oversaturated with inspiration, content, information, news and business. Propelled forward by social and traditional media, it’s no wonder we sometimes feel like crawling into a cave and sleeping or meditating for a while. Unfortunately, we have responsibilities that don’t allow for us to make like the Dalai Lama, so instead we can implement coping strategies to deal.
I teach the ESIP model to a lot of my clients for them to use whenever they’re feeling overwhelmed. Welcome to the path toward calm and control.
E - Environment
Start by answering these questions:
What’s important to you? What’s your purpose/mission? What are your values?
It might seem scary to answer these questions, and maybe you’re already overwhelmed by ‘What’s my purpose?’ but try not to be too hard on yourself. Think of simple answers to start with; you don’t need to envision your absolute perfect life upfront. For example, your values might be love, respect, family, balance and creativity, with a purpose to live a happy, healthy life.
If you’re not clear on these three important questions, then set aside some time to think and write down the answers in your journal (over a coffee or cheeky wine!). I know what you’re thinking – ‘I don’t have time to sit with my thoughts, I’ve got too much to do!’ Well, just remember that if you take 5-10 minutes to answer these questions, it will ultimately lessen your to-do list and eliminate some stress.
When you’re clear on these ‘bigger picture’ aspects of your life, it makes it easier to figure out what to prioritise. If you’re not clear on what’s really important to you and what should take front-and-centre in your mind and actions, then you can get lost in overwhelm by feeling like everything on your to-do list is super important and a huge priority. Being clear on your own values and priorities means it’s easier to say no when the time comes, making space in your life and mind for the bigger picture.
Using your answers, identify the top THREE things you want to complete today, this week, this month, or this year. Write them down and put those THREE things somewhere you can see them, so you consciously and subconsciously repeat them to yourself.
By consistently referring back to these THREE priorities, you’ll find it easier to focus and you’ll know when to say no if something doesn’t align with your values/purpose and would simply create more overwhelm. If there are things that don’t get done on your to-do list, you can give yourself a break because you’ve been working on the most important items first.
S – Structure
What structures do you have in place to support you achieving what you want to do?
Rather than have a vague goal such as ‘be healthier’, it’s important to now put structures in place that will allow for you to achieve small steps towards the greater goal. For example, if you value health in your life, then perhaps a small goal is ‘To be able to run 5km without stopping’. Then, how will you achieve this? You can start with structures like organising gym sessions in your diary, or having benchmarks for when you want to be able to run 1km, 3km and then eventually 5km.
Be really clear on the actions you are going to take to achieve the goal rather than only focusing on the outcome. One of my clients wanted to sleep better and had all these great ideas about how to make that happen, including yoga, meditation, Rescue Remedy, regular massage, the works. We decided to focus on one simple task to start with, rather than overwhelming her with too much change. She simply had to buy an alarm clock and start sleeping with her phone out of the room.
If you have a goal to double your business profit next financial year, that’s the outcome you will focus on. But how will you get there? What structure can you put in place and what actions can you take? You could say to yourself ‘I’m going to make 10 sales calls per week’. This helps you focus on the little steps you need to take each week, rather than getting overwhelmed by a bigger goal that seems distant in an unforeseeable future.
I – Implementation
What are you going to do to ensure you take action?
Step three is to chunk what you need to do into smaller steps so it feels less overwhelming. You’ve figured out the structures and ‘actions’ and now it’s time to implement them. Consider what you need to do to keep you on track (e.g. writing down the key steps you need to take to the bigger goal and checking off a list when you’ve achieved each). Consider what you need to do to ensure you’ll be consistent (e.g. blogging for four hours per week on a Tuesday and Thursday night).
P – People
Who can help you to achieve your goals?
Are there certain people you need to hold you accountable, challenge you, or support you on your journey to achieving those goals?
As women, we often try to do it all ourselves (I know you know what I mean!). We need to learn to overcome our egos and potentially controlling behaviour so as not to micromanage areas of our lives that can be easily outsourced or delegated. Who can you ask to help you with a to-do list task that’s proving more overwhelming than manageable right now? Would it be better to hire a cleaner and budget for that cost, to save time and allow yourself to focus on other more important tasks that greater serve your purpose and goals? We live in an internet world – perhaps you could order your groceries online to be delivered, or outsource social media work to a content managing program, or site like Upwork? Would hiring a personal trainer or virtual assistant help?
Whatever you’re working towards in your life, no matter how small or big it might seem, consider all four aspects of the ESIP model to make it easier to achieve. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take the time to step back and work out a plan for Environment, Structure, Implementation and People, to help you feel back in control and on top of your game.
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