“Take a number” – my favorite strategy for beating overwhelm

Screenshot of exercise tweet

In my last post, I mentioned that I’m moving to Ohio soon. As I’m sure you know from your own moving experience, that means there’s a lot to do! And, of course, it’s not as if life stops to give you extra time to do it. As a matter of fact, sometimes what life gives you are some extra curveballs. Like, how about three days of school being closed—i.e., kid at home—due to “threat” of winter weather?!

That’s one thing I won’t miss about Nashville. At least in Ohio, the winter weather is real. 🥶🤣

Of course, I’m not just writing to tell you about my challenges with moving. Insert your circumstances here: ___________.

And more importantly, I’m writing to share a tool to help you rise above the overwhelm.

As a resilience coach and speaker, I see it all the time—the constant feeling of overwhelm and uncertainty in this fast-paced world. It seems like there’s always more on our plate than we have time to handle, and when we try to multitask, we just end up feeling even more frazzled.

So, what if I told you there was a simple solution to this problem?

Enter what I call the “Take a Number” system.

Just like at a deli, imagine that every person who needs your time, or every project that needs your attention, has to take a number. After all, you can only do what you can do, one thing at a time. So, rather than trying to sort through all of it, all at once, all the time, just ask, “What do I need to focus on right now?”

I know, I know, the idea of single-tasking in a world that values multitasking might seem unconventional or even controversial. But here’s the thing: multitasking is a myth.

Studies have shown that multitasking is not only ineffective, but it also decreases our productivity and overall well-being. When we try to do too many things at once, our brain becomes overloaded and we end up doing a poor job on all tasks.

So, how do you use the “Take a Number” system? It’s simple.

Each time a new task pops up, give it a number. Then, prioritize your tasks based on their importance and urgency, and work through them one by one. This way, you’re able to give your full attention to each task, resulting in better quality work and less stress in the process.

But wait, there’s more! 😝

As the “Take a Number” system helps us focus on what’s most important, it also helps us avoid getting bogged down by distractions and interruptions. When we prioritize our tasks, we’re able to see what truly needs our attention and what can wait.

“But what about unexpected events and emergencies?” you might say. (Like, that unexpected and—if you ask me!—unnecessary school closing.)

The beauty of this system is that it’s flexible.

If something comes up that’s truly urgent and can’t wait, you can adjust your priorities accordingly. Most of the time, though, those interruptions and distractions aren’t actually as pressing as we think they are. (Reflect on some recent distractions that grabbed your attention and see for yourself.)

So, what if today you embrace the power of single tasking and give the “Take a Number” system a try? Trust me, your brain will thank you. And who knows, you might even find a little bit of humor in the process. Just imagine, when someone asks for your time or attention, you can say, “Sure, just take a number.” 🤣

NOTE: I do not recommend using this strategy on your partner or spouse. I’m not the smartest guy… but I do know that.

In all seriousness, here’s my wish for you today: Don’t let overwhelm and uncertainty rule your life. Take back control and prioritize your tasks with the “Take a Number” system. By focusing on one thing at a time, you’ll improve the quality of your work, reduce stress, and gain a sense of control over your day. Give it a try and see the difference it makes in your life.

And as always, if you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness, neuroscience, and psychology and how to apply these concepts in your life, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be more than happy to chat and see how I can support you—and your team—in your personal and professional growth journey.

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