Have you ever found yourself in what I call a “wired-up overwhelmed near-panic spiral – WUONPS?” You wake up at 3:30 AM with this gnawing feeling – you’re not worried about anything in particular, but that feeling is there. You can’t go back to sleep so you get up and make some coffee. You surf the internet while drinking three cups of coffee. Then you hit the drive-through at Starbucks on the way to work and get a Triple Frappasomething with an extra double shot of cappuccino. It’s been consumed before you reach the first stoplight. By the time you arrive at the office the feeling is welling up. With few more cups of coffee, a glance at 75 new e-mails and a minor crisis dropped in your lap, you’ve now reached the pinnacle of WUONPS. Oh, and it’s only 8:11 AM. What to do?

The first step is to recognize the state that we’re in. The quicker we can do this the faster we can move toward resolution. When we push on without stepping back our feelings cascade and we end up in a spiral. In aviation parlance, we’re now in full-fledged crash and burn mode. When we recognize that we’re headed into WUONPS we need to stop what we’re doing IMMEDIATELY. Then we need to go and find a quiet place for decompression.

Once in our quiet place it’s important to sit with our feet flat on the floor and hands in our lap with our eyes closed. We take a deep breath and let it out slowly. We do it again and again. Focusing on our breathing is a sure-fire method of calming ourselves. Deep breathing delivers increased amounts of oxygen to the brain. Livestrong.com says this: “Breathing slowly and mindfully activates the hypothalamus, connected to the pituitary gland in the brain, to send out neurohormones and trigger a relaxation response in the body. The hypothalamus links the nervous system to the endocrine system, which secretes the hormones that regulate all activities throughout the body.” Scientific explanation or not, this process definitely works.

Once we have begun to “unwire” through deep breathing, we might undertake the ROY G BIV exercise. ROY G BIV is an acronym for the seven colors of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. In our mind’s eye we see each of the colors of the rainbow traveling from the center of the earth through the bottom of our feet, up our leg, across our midsection, down the other leg and back to the center of the earth. We do this slowly and intentionally with each color of the rainbow. The purpose of ROY G BIV is to ground ourselves. I know that when I’ve been in a state of WUONPS, I have a weird free-floating out-of-control feeling. ROY G BIV eliminates this feeling.

After spending ten or fifteen minutes deep breathing and grounding ourselves we are now ready to move back into the day. But first we should review our goals and objectives for the day. We spend a few moments with our “To Do” list and make sure we are clear on what we intend to accomplish for the rest of the day. Then we move forward with a new purpose and a new attitude. And . . . we avoid any additional caffeine for the rest of the day. We can also eliminate WUONPS altogether if we exercise regularly (daily for me); limit our consumption of caffeine, and maintain a daily practice of meditation or quiet time.

Recognizing WUONPS is critical. Breaking the spiral with deep breathing and ROY G BIV is paramount. Recommitting to the day with a clear understanding of what we intend to accomplish puts us back on the calm and productive path we desire.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.



Question: I have come to the realization that I’m a procrastinator and it’s really impacting my career. How do I conquer this affliction?

Answer: We procrastinate for several reasons. Three of the more common include simply not wanting to do something; we don’t know how to do it, or we view the task as too big and daunting. It’s important to understand why we are reluctant to tackle whatever it is that needs to be accomplished. Then in clinical fashion we can resolve what is holding us back.

Let’s take the toughest one first – we simply don’t want to do something. Everyone has things they just don’t like doing. As a child, one of my chores was cleaning up the dog poop in the backyard – the product of my parent’s penchant for raising Chihuahuas. Because I was conscripted and had no choice in the matter, I learned to get this nasty responsibility out of the way in the morning before I went to school. As a result I got to eat; was able to play after school, and avoided the wrath of my parents. Fast forward to today and the lesson I learned is to resolve to do the things I don’t want to do as early in the day as possible and focus on the benefits of accomplishment.

A lack of knowledge or understanding can cause us to put off something that needs doing. The simple realization that this is why we are procrastinating can be the kick-start that we need to move forward. We determine if we need clarification from another person. Or perhaps we require technical information that can come through further study. A number of years ago I asked one of my newer colleagues to prepare what I thought was a fairly elementary analysis. Days went by, then a week. When I inquired as to the reason for what I thought was her procrastination, she was embarrassed to admit that she had no idea how to create an Excel spreadsheet.

What do we do about something we are avoiding because it looks so enormous and foreboding we don’t even want to start. Remember the old adage about eating an elephant one bite at a time? Well, it applies here. I am constantly dealing with massive and complicated projects and found long ago that the only way to keep from being overwhelmed is through obsessive planning. Break the task down into manageable components; organize them logically; plot them on a timeline, and execute. This is the only way for me to beat avoidance and stay sane.

The enemy of procrastination is determination. Determination as to the root cause of our avoidance, and then our determination to take the steps necessary to successfully complete the project or task at hand.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.