Last week, a client told us that she was feeling overwhelmed. She then thought for a moment and said, “no, that’s not it. I’m not overwhelmed…I’m over busy.” How wonderfully perceptive!

While overwhelmed and over busy are similar, there is a distinction, and today, we’d like to explore the difference between the two.

When you describe yourself as overwhelmed it describes a loss of control and many times that’s true; you often have limited control. When you describe yourself as over busy, it suggests you may have some influence on how to move through it.

Key Aspects of Over Busy

  1. Tired by the end of the day, but you generally start the new day refreshed and ready to go.
  2. Struggling to keep up with your workload, it’s more than you can realistically do in the time you have allotted.
  3. You have a lot to do but you’re hopeful or excited about the work and generally feel engaged.

Being chronically over busy can, in time, lead to being overwhelmed.

Key Aspects of Overwhelmed

  1. You’re fatigued and you have a growing sense of exhaustion, both mentally and physically.
  2. You start treating yourself and others less relationally, you’re short tempered and/or easily triggered.
  3. You’re not hopeful about the future and experience life as a hamster wheel of to-dos. 

One of the key ways to manage over busy is to look at your list of to do’s and see what you’re holding onto that should be delegated to someone else or (gulp) eliminated altogether.

The matrix below is a simple way to assess what’s coming at you and what you should do with it:

What is urgent AND important for your team’s success?
Do it today!

What is important but not urgent?
Decide on a time to do it.

What is not important but urgent?
These things you can delegate most easily.

What is not urgent and not important?
These are the things to delete from your day (and your life).

Once you’ve looked at the matrix, you may see your way to decreasing the sense of being over busy.

If you do this and the demands remain so high that you are indeed, overwhelmed and you don’t know how to decrease the burden, consider talking with your boss, a mentor, or a coach to find some genuine relief from your day-to-day burdens so that you don’t slip toward burnout.

This week, take a look at this matrix and think about all that you have on your plate, and decide if you’re mostly over busy or if you’re overwhelmed. This will help you decide how to move forward to position yourself for success.

Please let us know if we can be helpful.

Whether you’re feeling over busy or overwhelmed,
please reach out if you’d like support.