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6 Secrets To Beat ‘Overworked & Overwhelmed’


Today, I’m going to talk about a new book that just came out that I just loved. It teaches us the secrets to defeating that feeling of being overworked and overwhelmed. It’s by a writer named Kelly Exeter.

What you’re going to learn:

  • The 3 main reasons people feel overworked and overwhelmed all of the time
  • 6 secret habits to cure the feeling of being overworked and overwhelmed without sacrificing your goals or career advancement

Key Quotes:

“Don’t compare highlight reels with your everyday life.”

“Facebook life is the life everyone would have if we were all living on that TV series Sex in the City.”

“There’s nobody that’s got a perfect family, perfect career, perfect body, and great mental health.”

“Your values, what you truly want from life, are your values. It’s okay that they’re completely different than those around you.”

Read Full Transcript

Kevin Kruse here with another life changing episode of Extreme Productivity. At least that’s my mindset. Every time I record one of these, every article I write, every book that I write, I hope to change at least one person’s life. I hope you approach it the same way. I hope you listen to each episode and say, “Hey, let me listen to see if I can get one idea that just might change my life.”

I just got back from Key West, about a five day vacation, super long weekend. I think it was the fifth time I’ve been down there. Finally figured out how to do it right. I mean, it’s a food town and I’m finding all the best places to eat. I’m a foodie at heart.

I’m always asked by people wondering if I follow these fifteen productivity principles on the weekend and on vacation and all this kind of stuff. Heck no. I preach extreme productivity for when you’re trying to be extremely productive but I also believe in completely unplugging and relaxing when that’s what you’re supposed to be doing.

I spent time at Irish Kevin’s Bar, which is a famous bar down there. One, because I’m Irish. Two, because my name is Kevin. Three, because it’s a bar. I also played with the six-toed cats at Ernest Hemingway’s house. You can Google them if you don’t know the reference. I’ve been there two, three times. Ernest Hemingway’s house. It’s great. It’s a great place. Great to learn about Hemingway. As a writer, I like to get inspiration and look around his house and wonder, “Hmm, maybe being a suicidal womanizing alcoholic is the key to great writing.” It probably isn’t but it might be a fun experiment someday. Last but not least, a friend of mine opened a restaurant. She’s got her own restaurant which was off the hook. I mean that literally. It is called Off the Hook. Get it? Seafood? Off the Hook. If you’re ever down there, it’s amazing. It’s on Simonton, not Duval but almost right downtown. It’s easy to get to.

I had a great time and I am ready and back. I’m going to binge record a bunch of these episodes here. That’s why I’m all fired up.

In the last episode, I talked about how millionaires schedule their day. Today, I’m going to talk about a new book that just came out that I just loved. It teaches us the secrets to defeating that feeling of being overworked and overwhelmed. It’s by a writer named Kelly Exeter.

First, as always, I want to make sure that you’ve gotten that one page planning tool that millionaires use to schedule their day. It will help us to stay in touch. Just send me a text message. Send a text to 44222 with the word “achieve” or you can always just go over to the website

Let’s dive in. Do you ever feel like you’re a hamster on a wheel? Just running and running, not making any progress. Imagine if you could cure that feeling of being overworked and overwhelmed without sacrificing your goals and your career advancement. I just read a new book called Practical Perfection by Kelly Exeter. Now, she’s a really cool Australian writer and consultant and she’s got it all going on, but five years ago, she literally had a breakdown, a pretty serious breakdown from trying to please everyone, working too hard, not taking care of herself. She rebounded and got back to being better than ever before with what she has now called this term practical perfection framework. That’s sort of her answer. This practical perfection framework that she’s written in this book, Practical Perfection. Her goal is to get you the time and space so that you can be good for the world, you can serve those closest to you and, of course, you can be good to yourself.

I just want to focus on one chapter. This was my favorite chapter. This one chapter is well worth the price of the entire book. The chapter is about how do we stop feeling so overwhelmed. Exeter, when doing research for her book, found that 52%, over half the people surveyed that she surveyed, said that they feel overwhelmed a lot or all of the time. Overwhelm has really become the new normal for the majority of us.

Now, what causes us to feel that way? Kelly says that there’s three main reasons. First is FOMO, fear of missing out. Second is FODO, fear of disappointing others. The third is being so passionate about our stuff, whatever our stuff is, that we just want to use up every available minute of the day working on it. We don’t actually want to spend any time resting or recovering.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can relate to all three of these things. Just this morning, I got an invitation from the dean of a local college to go to the opening of their entrepreneur center. I was invited by a professor who’s setting up a Shark Tank style business plan competition. They wanted me to help design it and be a judge. A friend of mine is racing in the Indie 500, invited me to watch the race. This is the one-hundredth anniversary of the Indie 500. There’s a very cool writer’s conference coming up in Austin, Texas and really want to go to that. Of course, my work which is my passion. I mean, I got a long list of articles I want to write and books to write and on and on.

I don’t want to miss out, FOMO, on all these amazing experiences. It’s hard for me to say no, FODO, to other people who are asking me to participate in some of this. I just want to release more and more work. That’s my passion. I’m going to say no to all that but it’s hard. Kelly would say that the potential for feeling overwhelmed is high, especially if I give in and agree to doing all these very cool things.

What’s the cure when we’re feeling overwhelmed? How do we fight back against FOMO and FODO? Sounds like a quest for … We’re a bunch of hobbits trying to cure evil.

Anyway, here’s the first one. The first way to tackle that feeling of being overwhelmed. Don’t compare highlight reels with your everyday life. What Kelly’s talking about is that we’re looking at social media all the time. Facebook and Instagram and if you’re a youngin’, you’re now on Snapchat. We need to remember that everything we see on social media is really just the highlight reel of people’s lives. I once heard somebody say that the Facebook life is the life everyone would have if we were all living on that TV series Sex in the City. It’s not real. People are not uploading videos of all the boring stuff, of all the painful stuff, of all the disappointments. They’re only putting their highlight reel up there.

How do we tackle overwhelm advice number two? Understand that no one has it all. This is similar to number one. Nobody truly has it all. We can’t compare. We got to get over this comparison-itis. We can’t look at the family down the street and think that’s a perfect family. We can’t look at that team member and think they have the perfect career. We can’t look at our friend or the online people and think they’ve got a perfect body and, of course, great mental health. There’s nobody that’s got a perfect family, perfect career, perfect body, and great mental health.

That reminded me. I had, a long time ago, there was a friend and she was always Miss Positive, which is good to look at the glass half full, but it can be to a fault if you’re not willing to be vulnerable with your friends and family members. I could remember asking her how everything was. She said, “Oh, everything’s great.” Everything was just great. Then, I shared about relationship troubles or whatever I was going through and then just after that, I found out that she actually had a pretty serious cancer diagnosis and was going through early treatment. She didn’t even bring it up. It wasn’t just that I wasn’t that close to her. She wasn’t telling anybody other than her immediate family. That’s certainly her right and a very personal thing. That was the story I thought about when we think about the friends at work or online, especially who seem to have it all. The perfect life. Nobody has a perfect life. Just because they’re not talking about their struggle doesn’t mean that they don’t have a bad day or an inner-struggle as well.

Let’s see. How do we tackle overwhelm secret number three? Understand that other people’s goals are not your goals. It’s natural to be influenced by our peers. We just have to remember that as much as we love our friends, our family members, and we care about their opinions and stuff to a certain degree, we can’t let it get under our skin in a negative way. Just because your sister has a PhD doesn’t mean you need to stay in school pursuing higher education. Just because your brother became a venture capitalist and is worth a bazillion dollars doesn’t mean you need to pursue a career in business or measure your own self worth by the number of dollars that you have. Your values, what you truly want from life, are your values. It’s okay that they can be completely different than those around you. That’s what makes you you.

Secret number four to tackling overwhelm. Understand that your priorities may not really be priorities at all. Sometimes we think that we have something as a priority. In reality, it’s just something that might be nice to have but really isn’t that important. Obviously, I’m a writer and I get approached by friends and strangers who tell me with envy in their voice that I’m so lucky and it must be great to be an author and have the author lifestyle. They have a book inside of them and they’re going to write a book and they would love to be an author someday. They make it sound like this is a pretty high priority for them to write their book. If I were to ask them, none of them have read a book on how to be a writer, how to write. I think I’ve read 50. They don’t belong to any writing groups on Facebook where other writers share tips and commiserate. They don’t even write or write a journal. All these people who say, “Oh, yeah. I’m so disappointed. I’ve never found the time.” That’s a stupid phrase, right? “Found the time to write that book. You must be so lucky. You must be so fortunate. You must be so happy being an author.” Yeah, I am, but maybe it’s just not really a priority for them.

You know, I do it too. I think that being in great shape is a priority for me and on many days, I’ll feel badly about myself that I don’t look like some male model. Most days I need to remember that, jeez, if that was truly a priority, I would probably go to the gym someday. If I don’t go to the gym and don’t really pay too much attention to what I’m eating, maybe looking like a male model isn’t much of a priority. It’s nice to have but I’ve got to stop beating myself up over it.

Secret to overcoming overwhelm number five. This is a big one. Get comfortable with disappointing others. It’s a hard one, right? From the time we’re little kids, we’re raised and told that it’s good to help others, it’s good to be polite. We want to be accommodating. We don’t want to have disagreements. We’re supposed to play nice in the sandbox. No fighting, no arguing. It’s no wonder that as adults, so many of us struggle with saying no. N-O. That’s one of the chapters in my book as well, one of the fifteen secrets, is a default to no. You need to become comfortable with protecting your time, with establishing your boundaries. Listen, if your friends are truly friends, if your colleagues at work are truly professional, if your family members truly love you and I know they do, they’re not going to expect you to be able to say yes all of the time. They’re going to be understanding, especially if you say, “Hey, I’d really like to help, just not this time. I can’t this time.” If they truly care about you, if they’re truly professional, they’re not going to hold it against you.

Finally, secret number six on how to tackle feeling overworked and overwhelmed. Learn six simple words. This is the most specific advice in Kelly Exeter’s entire book. She says we need to memorize six simple words. Here they are: Let me get back to you. This goes along with secret number five. By default, we’re programmed to say yes to everything and everyone. Every opportunity, we’re supposed to jump on it. Everyone needs help, we’re supposed to help them. We need to reprogram ourselves to say no, but until we can do that, because it is hard, at least reprogram yourself so that instead of saying yes, you say those six words, “Let me get back to you.” Now, you could say that and then get back to them in five minutes with a yes, that’s fine, or you could take a day or a week. That’s the beauty of it. You’re not locking yourself into a specific time frame. It gives you a little bit of space, a little bit of time to think it through. Do you really want to say yes or not? Hey, if it’s a little hard to say no to someone’s face, it’s a little easier to say no via email or voice mail. That’s another benefit from all of it.

Kelly Exeter, you know, her book is called Practical Perfection. The reason why it’s called that is she has this visual model. Imagine a Venn diagram. Three circles that overlap. There’s like a bulls eye in the middle. Each circle, she says represents … One circle is passion, another is priorities, and another is productivity. The zone in the middle where all of these three things overlap, that’s the practical perfection zone. When we’re working with our passion, our priorities, and our productivity, if any one of those three things are missing, we’re going to feel it. We’re going to notice it in our bodies emotionally. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s usually when we are being productive, we’re working it hard, we’re passionate, we like helping people, we like working on our work, but what’s missing is the third circle, priorities. Overwhelmed is passion plus productivity minus priorities.

To get all the other awesome chapters, go onto Amazon. Just search on Practical Perfection. You’ll see the book by Kelly Exeter and I encourage you to check it out.

How are we going to apply what we just reviewed from Kelly’s book today? First of all, listen, should you be maybe spending less time on Facebook so you don’t have that comparison-itis, looking at the highlight reel of everyone else’s life. Hey, maybe you need to unfriend or unfollow at least some people who like to show us their Sex in the City lifestyle or at least move that Facebook icon to the last page on your phone, the last tile on your phone, not the first, so you don’t just by default, “Hey, I got five seconds to kill. Let me feel bad about myself by looking at what Joanne’s doing today.” You know, we don’t need to be doing that.

Then, hey, driving home from work or going for a quick coffee break, think about your goals and priorities and other people’s goals and priorities. Are yours really yours or are your goals and priorities being influenced by what your parents think or by what your big brother thinks or because your boss wants you to do a certain thing that you don’t really think is your future career path? Just get really clear on what your values are, what your priorities are. What is really important to you?

Third and last thing, I got to challenge for you. What are those six words? Let me get back to you. Practice it. I want you to use those six words even if you know it’s a yes. I don’t care. Hubby says, “Hey, you want to go catch a movie on Friday?” “Let me get back to you.” He’s going to be like, “What? What do you mean get back to you?” That’s okay. Boss says, “Hey, I need five copies of this report done by 3:00.” “Let me get back to you.” “What do you mean, ‘Let me get back to you?'” I don’t care if it’s an easy yes. Get people used to hearing those six words. Sixty seconds later, you can still say, “Yeah, that’s not going to be a problem,” or, “Yeah, that’s a great idea.” You need to practice saying, “Let me get back to you.”

All right. Hopefully, you enjoyed this latest episode. As always, I want to make sure that we stay connected via email. All you need to do is text the word “achieve” to 44222 or visit and you’ll sign up for my weekly tip list and you’re immediately going to download the one page planning tool that millionaires and other ultra productive people use to plan their day. It’s part of the quick start action plan you’re going to get. Hey, make sure you subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher if you’re a droid user like me so you don’t miss the next episode which is all about how the 80-20 rule, the Pareto Principle, can totally change your life. If you liked this episode, send the link to some friends, send them to Time is life. You want to help them out, don’t you? Until next week, remember, master your minutes to master your life.