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The Overwhelm Formula: How To Deal With Distractions And Prioritise Your Life

Michelle Dale - Friday, August 10, 2012

Someone in my member forums asked me a really excellent question today and I thought so many of us have this issue – maybe not always, but it can certainly creep up on us from time to time, so I thought I would share it with you guys and also my response to this common issue.


So this is what she said, “How do any of you maintain focus and limiting distractions when either working your business or developing it? I ask because as soon as I began the VA Shoestring program, it seemed that everything came knocking me over the head with something new. In other words, there have been so many distractions with others (family and friends) asking me to do favors and more. I’ve seriously been overwhelmed with all of these requests. I know I’m going to have to put my foot down and just say “No”. Even still…all of these distractions got me to thinking…when my business launches, and I begin to get clients, I’m not going to allow such distractions. I’d like to know how some of you handle a busy life full of distractions.”

If this person is reading this blog post – you’re not alone, and neither is anyone else reading that thinking, “That’s so me!”

Dealing With It.

I get overwhelmed too, and it always seems that you take on one thing, and another, and another, you do this favour, run this errand and before you know it days have gone by and the tumbleweeds are rolling across your ‘to do’ list of things you really needed to get done – if you’re a mum, you’ll especially know what I mean.

When I get into this kind of situation the best thing to do is try to spot it early on, then write down a list of all the things which are on your plate, being pushed onto your plate, and potentially could be on your plate if you don’t do something about it.

Then use a formula of your own choosing to sort through and prioritise everything. The formula I use is below, but your priorities may be different of course – but you’ll get the gist of it.

The Formula.

For each item on the list ask yourself the set of questions from the formula and then decide how you’ll prioritise the distractions and things to do, and then stick to the formula.


  • High Priority – I’ll do it ASAP.
  • Medium Priority – I’ll do it after the High Priority list is done.
  • Low Priority – I’ll put it on the back burner or simply say, “No way Jose.”


  • High Priority – It will contribute to my short-term income.
  • High Priority – It’s essential/must be done/cannot be avoided/time sensitive.
  • High Priority – It’s for my kids/direct immediate family.

(I will always do these things first)

  • Medium Priority – It’s for someone I really like/owe them one.
  • Medium Priority – It will contribute to my long-term income.
  • Medium Priority – It will make me happy and it can be done in a relatively short period of time (15 mins).

(I will always do these things second, beginning with the ones that have 3 “Yes” answers, then the ones with 2 “Yes” answers and then ones with 1 “Yes” answer.)

  • Low Priority – It’s for someone I don’t like or someone who is taking advantage.
  • Low Priority – It won’t directly impact my short or long term income.
  • Low Priority – I don’t want to do it or it won’t make me happy.

(By the time you get to these you’ll feel good about what you accomplished and will likely say no, scrap them or put them off.)

Scheduling is also important and devoting time to essential items where you turn your Skype off, your phone, every possible way people can communicate with you for an hour or 2 hours and just work – I tend to find this works better at night since I have kids at home.

Create your own formula for coping and stick to it, it will simplify your life and give you a focus.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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