CREATRICKS: Tackling Overwhelm (Stress-Busting Summer Series #2)



Hey, are your shoulders tensed up to your ears? Forgotten to breathe lately? If you are overwhelmed, you are struggling with scarcity (skills, time, money or other resources). In this state, we often spin in place, shut down, hide out or act out–all actions guaranteed to make things worse. Evaluation and collaboration are two of the best ways to make bad situations a lot better for you, the project and ultimately your company.


Stress can create the illusion that we are trapped in a paralyzing fog. Scrambling to do more is the typical reaction, and yet what’s usually most useful is taking time off from scattershot doing to strategic thinking. Without clarifying what your problems are, you can’t resolve them. Here is a sampling of diagnostic questions that are designed to prompt new insights:  

  • Are my goals too ambitious for my current resources [of skills, time, money]?
  • What would be the excellent minimum here? [If you are rigorous about recategorizing everything non-essential, as a “Bonus”, you will thank me!]
  • What are the intermediate steps that need to happen between conception to completion?
  • How long will each action step take? [Give yourself double the amount of time for any task you’ve never done before]
  • Where would these tasks fit into realistic time slots on my calendar? [If you don’t have enough time, go back to the re-evaluating step and determine if this really needs to be done at all]
  • Which tasks freak me out the most?
  • Do I have sufficient expertise to do this?
  • Am I the best person to be doing these tasks?
  • Would it be smarter to conserve my energy for tasks that I’m uniquely well-suited for?
  • If I had no fear or no ego stake in this situation, what would I do?
  • If someone else was in this situation, what would I advise them to do?

So if you now think that collaboration would be the best prescription for your paralysis, follow this link for the whole article that addresses collaboration.


Most of us avoid seeking help for fear-based reasons (for example, we assume we will appear inadequate). Yet enlisting the input–from your boss, manager, collegial peers, co-workers or an outside consultant–is often the best way to conquer crisis. Bosses and clients typically care most about something getting done well and on time and really don’t care who did the job. Making yourself miserable doing a job alone when it isn’t in your skillset rarely delivers great results–and typically causes unnecessary exhaustion. So consider:

  • Having to explain yourself to someone else forces you to organise your thoughts–and establish clear job descriptions and boundaries
  • Two (or more) brains are better than one; more people means more solutions
  • Collaborators offer a fresh pair of eyes, which means more people have your back and can help catch mistakes and trouble-shoot for your project
  • In-house peers who know your assignment or agenda are more invested in your success than you may realize, as they also need the company to succeed
  • We accelerate our professional growth by interacting with others than by struggling along with our own limited knowledge set
  • Suffering-in-silence martyrdom is emotionally draining and makes anyone vulnerable to burnout, and can even compromise your health
  • Finally, working with others can give you the extra morale boost required to get the job done, when you could be tempted give up

When the going gets tough, realize that if you made this mess, you can fix it. Just probably not all by yourself!

See more of Victoria’s Creatricks posts on our Ideablog!

~~~Victoria C. Rowan, Creatricks-in-Chief: Ideasmyth Inc. is the brainchild of the indefatigably energetic native New Yorker, Victoria C. Rowan, who has been fascinated by all forms of media since she started reading at three. She began editing her school’s literary magazine at 16. Since then, she has spent over 25 years working in all forms of media, writing for dozens of publications; providing commentaries for public radio; book packaging; and curating a variety of literary and spoken word events for organizations like the 92nd Street Y and The National Arts Club, for which she received press recognition for her own series. She founded the educational division of, which became a multi-million-dollar phenomenon. Since launching Ideasmyth in 2000, her nearly 1,000 clients have benefitted from her range of media experience as she has helped them produce their published articles, critically acclaimed books, monographs and theater productions, as well as many other exciting and innovative enterprises. She considers it her life’s vocation to cultivate and celebrate creativity in all its forms.

Having midwife-ed such a range of projects and enterprises  she has come to this conclusion: creativity can only consistently thrive when the rest of the artist’s life works and allows space for its potential. Sessions with Victoria will not only help you craft a better book, essay, play, poem, website copy or business plan, but they will also help you become the person you always wanted to be.

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