Urgent vs Important: How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

If you feel overwhelmed chases are you're confusing what is important with what is urgent.


There is one phrase that is absolutely destroying your willpower and productivity…

…but if you feel overwhelmed, chances are you say it all of the time.

“I’m SOO busy!”

Anytime you hear someone say this phrase, you can bet that they don’t have clarity about what is really important in their lives.

The sad part is, that it is this lack of clarity that causes chaos and is the feeling of being overwhelmed or stuck.

Fortunately, there is an easy distinction, a simple tool you, and a few email scripts you can use to fight feeling overwhelmed and get more of the right stuff done.

Getting Stuck in the "Shoulds"

Whether you’re growing your business or just juggling the responsibilities of everyday life, it is easy to get caught up all of the things you should to be doing.

For example:

And every one with a product is trying to convince you that none of that matters and you should buy their product.

The shoulds” are everywhere and I bet you can’t get out of bed without stumbling over at least a few.

The only problem is that if all you are getting done are the “shoulds”, it is virtually guaranteeing that you won’t get anything important or meaningful done.

That’s why you absolutely must make the distinction between what is URGENT and what is IMPORTANT in your life.

The Cure to Feeling Overwhelmed

impact planner

The easiest way to stop feeling overwhelmed is to get clarity on the IMPORTANT things you need to be focusing on…

…and make it a habit of doing those things.

To help you on this path, I’ve finally created a printable version of the weekly planner I’ve used for years.

This little tool routinely helps me get the important stuff done instead of getting stuck in “the shoulds.”

I call it the impact planner and I think you're going to like it.

Try using it for just 3 weeks and I'll be shocked if you don't see a dramatic difference in your business. (At least that is what my mentees have reported.)

Get the Impact Planner

Bonus: How to Say No - 3 Scripts You Can Steal

Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or have quite a few important things I want to focus on in the pipeline, I find the easiest way to make sure they get done is to start saying “NO” to anything and everything that isn’t aligned with my goals.

At first I found there was a lot of guilt in saying “no” to people, but as a good friend pointed out that by saying “no” to some things you are actually saying “yes” to the important things.

How to Say No to an Event

I love going to and hosting events, but I find even evening events can demolish 6-8 hours of productive time (especially if there is alcohol involved).

That said, here is the template I’ve used dozen of times to say no to going to an event.

Wow, [insert event name] it looks [insert superlative].

I’d love to be there, but I’m just getting traction on an important project and can’t commit to anything else right now.

[If it is a close friend]How about we plan on catching up on [date] or [date] via Skype?

Thanks for the invite, but I can’t make it this time.

How to Say No to Coffee

I get a lot of requests to meet up for coffee. I mean A LOT.

When I was in NYC, I could easily spend 10-15 hours a week meeting acquaintances and readers for coffee or green juice.

Below is the script I’ve used to cut out 98% of my “let’s get coffee” requests.

[Name], right now meeting just isn’t in my time budget.

That said, how about you clarify what you’re struggling with via email and I’ll field the answer as best I can.

(Make sure to be thorough but not overly detailed — 500 word+ emails don’t help anyone.)

Now the reason I don’t flat out say no is I actually care about what you (and other readers) are struggling with.

That said, I typically find most people are struggling with the same thing, such as getting more of the right customers, avoiding problem clients, or getting paid what they are worth.

If they fall into those categories I’ll typically send them a quick note, a few links to read, and link to a couple of my guides.

If they don’t, I’ll reply thoroughly and file it as a blog post idea (if it fits). (Emails are great for capturing content ideas)

Note: If you're dealing with friends instead of readers I'd definitely recommend the "Double Optin For My Attention" strategy.

I’m on the No Train

While I wouldn’t recommend this script for everyone, I actually use this script a lot.

Hey [name], I’d love to do [thing], but right now I’m focused on [project] and have to say no.

I’ve been a bit on the “No Train” lately but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. :)

Reach out to me on [date] (or I'll reach out to you on [date])

This one works especially well if you’ve got a lot of friends who are also entrepreneurs.

Now You’re the Expert

What tools do you use to keep from feeling overwhelmed and get more of the right stuff done?

I know lots of people are a fan of the Getting Things Done system and digital to-do lists, but I still haven’t found one I can stick with (besides my planning guide).

Excited to hear what has worked for you in the comments.

To your success,

Nick ReeseNick Reese Signature

Published: 2014-02-07