Dealing with TOTM (Taking on Too Much) Syndrome

Taking on Too Much

By Dr. Barbara Seifert, CPC

So I’m going to share that I have a disease – TOTM; now before you feel sorry for me – please don’t because you might have it, too!

Taking on Too Much (TOTM) has become a way of life for me lately. Running my own business and working all areas that growing a business involves, i.e. updating social media, writing blogs and articles (including this one), speaking to groups, seeing clients, etc. really fills my days. But adding into the mix is attending professional association meetings, starting a new coaching group and teaching several college-level online classes has pushed me a bit over the brink.

I didn’t realize that I had slowly been taking on too much until the due dates all converged at the same time – my classes had their papers due as well as a professional association meeting, two talks within the same week, getting the coaches group launched so there was enough to market it, while also celebrating a family birthday. While I originally said “Of Course” to all of these events, I did not adequately plan and be aware that they all would need to be done almost at the same time. Knowing myself, I go into overwhelm and undergo all the frustrations that come with it; but then I slowly work through until those tasks are done.

What I’ve learned from this I am  going to share with you so that you don’t develop TOTM or, if you already suffer from it, you can learn to deal with it much more successfully:

1. Pay Attention:

It’s hard to be aware – or admit- when in an overwhelm state so it’s important to be in full awareness when your body starts to negatively react; for me, that is when I get a bit more irritable (did I hear ‘road rage?’), I’m not sleeping well or I turn to sweets.  This is the optimal time to go to the next step…

2. Stop: 

This involves stopping what you’re doing, sitting in silence for two minutes, and deep breathing. It’s amazing how both the mind and the body can feel calmer as your heart rate goes down and you feel more focused and open.

3. Eat the Frog:

Make sure that all activities are listed and prioritized somewhere; I like to write down the task end-result, with the date, and then work backwards for what steps I took to achieve them. I also give a priority to my tasks, preferably ‘eating the frog,’ as Brian Tracy would say, and working on the one that seems to cause me the most overwhelmed feeling.

4. Rest:

I find that taking some time in physical activities releases my anxious feelings and helps me to refocus so I can feel more ready, willing and able to knock off whatever is on my plate;  I find that even yard work, like cutting the grass, releases any negative energy.

5. Boundaries & Lessons Learned:

Understanding my drive and motivation for taking on too much allows me to let any ‘needs’ go (financial, ego, helping, etc.), helps me to set boundaries for myself as well as others, and places me in charge of my time and how I choose to spend it.

I know I have learned my lesson from this and that I don’t ever want to feel this way again. Having established my own boundaries should help me to think clearly and be decisive before saying “yes” to anything or anyone.  I now feel that I’m better able to deal with TOTM and, for my fellow TOTM’ers, you can, too!

Dr. Barbara Seifert, CPC is the President of Committed to Your Success Coaching & Consulting in Orlando, Florida.  She works with small business owners & solopreneurs who want to achieve measurable and life-long improvements in their performance so they can make more money, have greater satisfaction and achieve personal and professional success.  She also coaches in organizations to enhance employee engagement and for leadership development. Dr. Seifert is an adjunct professor, a certified professional coach, a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming practitioner and a Certified Law of Attraction coach.  You can learn more by visiting and Your Career Success Blog at, which was named one of the Top 100 Life Coaching Blogs to Follow in 2013.

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