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Are You Whelmed?

Are you overwhelmed?

This time of year tends to be overwhelming for many. Graduations. Graduation parties. Weddings. Work deadlines. Trade shows. Yard work. Weeding.

Just like you, I do feel overwhelmed at times. It can happen when I’m trying to meet deadlines or getting ready for the next Quilt Market or our Creative Arts Business Summit. Or even when life throws too much my way.

When that happens, I stop and remember the “whelmed” model that one of my husband’s clients created.

Whelmed. It’s that space between overwhelmed and underwhelmed. It’s that “just right” space, if you remember the story of Goldilocks and the three bears.

People who are whelmed are clear about what they do and are determined to get it done. You can tell when you’re in the whelmed zone. You feel really productive, energized, and thrilled at what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day.

Here are six tips to help you move out of overwhelm and into whelm:

Know what overwhelmed looks like

Learn how to recognize when you are getting into overwhelm. If you can tell you are on the verge – or already there –  then you take action. First thing I like to do is take a breath, or as I’ve been know to tell myself, “Get a grip.”

Find the truth

Remember to look at the facts. It’s easy to confuse your impressions of what needs to be done with what really needs to be done. Write down everything that needs to be done. Then ask if it’s true.

Remember your goals

Focus is key. You need to be clear about what your goals are. Is everything on your “to-do” list really necessary?

Take a look at the list you created above and follow the “four Ds.”

If something is not a priority, see if you can Delete it from the list.

Next, look for those items you can Delegate to someone else.

Third, what can you Defer until sometime later without creating problems? And, for those items you can defer, again consider if they are really necessary.


You’ve probably winnowed down your list to something that might be a bit more manageable.

What are the three top priorities on your list?

Put a time for them in your calendar. And, allow more time than you think. Trying to do more than you physically can in the allotted time is one of the reasons for overwhelm.

Take action

If you were counting above, you noticed I only included 3 D’s.

Now get going with the list. This is the fourth “D” – Do –  and let go of perfection as you work on your list. “Progress, not Perfection” is your mantra. You might also think of it as Imperfect Action.

Forget about it

And remember at the end of the day, if something doesn’t get done, you are probably the only one who knows it.

I learned that one from my mother, who told me as I was stressed out about some little something that wasn’t what I expected for my wedding day. She reminded me that the only one who knew that the color on my wedding cake didn’t exactly match the color on the bridesmaid’s dresses was me.

Here’s a favorite quote that sums up for me the feeling of being “whelmed”:

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.”
Margaret Thatcher

It’s your turn!

How do you stay in a state of whelmed?

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