Sometimes, we get overwhelmed at work, and it emotionally drains us. To address this concern, Penny welcomes Peter Schroeder in this episode. Peter is an award-winning DJ and entrepreneur who started Telzio. He differentiates overwhelm from overload and then shares some techniques for getting out of it. He also provides some tips and tricks for overcoming overwhelm and harnessing the power of focus to get the stuff done. Learn to get yourself unstuck from being overwhelmed and overloaded today. Join Peter Schroeder in this episode and leverage the power of focus.
Listen to the podcast here
Overcoming Overwhelm: Overwhelm, Overload, And The Power Of Focus With Peter Schroeder
We are talking about overwhelm, overload, and the power of focus. Everyone that I’ve talked to in the past, at least years, is feeling some sense of overwhelm and overload. There are less resources and more to do. People are feeling the pressure. The number of people who are feeling burnout is going up as well.
I’m excited to have Peter Schroeder with me. We’re looking for experts who are going to give you a new twist that is going to help you with the way that you’re feeling so that you can get out of feeling stuck, get out of that place of overwhelm and take yourself to a place where you can really leverage off of the power of focus.
Peter is an award-winning DJ and entrepreneur who started Telzio. It’s a company that’s changing the way that we work and how we communicate. With decades of experience, he’s teamed up with big names like Facebook, Samsung, and Airbnb. He has earned more than 20 platinum records and 40 gold records and received 3 nominations for the Danish DJ Awards. Even after facing challenges like surviving a plane crash, his passion and determination continue to inspire. Without further ado, Peter, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me.
I’m trying to see the connection between the DJ and the music world and then what you’re doing around focus. Help us to understand. How did one flow into the other?
My whole life, I’ve had two parallel careers. Even since I was a kid, I’ve always been a major nerd. I started coding when I was six years old. I got my first computer. I was more interested in that than playing video games. My mom was an engineer. Both my parents were musicians. My dad was out playing gigs every weekend when I was a kid. My mom was a pianist, a very good one.
I’ve always had this parallel thing going on where, on one hand, technology. I made my first website when I was fourteen back in 1998. I launched it and sold it as a real company when I was eighteen. At the same time, I started making music and DJing when I was in my teenage years. I found out that was where I wanted to go. Even while I was in the music industry, I was still coding stuff. I have a record label that, at some point, I created all the software for managing the releases, the promotion, royalties, and all these kinds of things.
It’s a curse. I was in application development one time. I can’t help but feel like to get involved in something like that. It’s inside you and you can’t help but do it, right?
Yeah. That’s the thing. I found out a few years ago that I have raging ADD. When I was a kid, that wasn’t a term. We had heard about ADHD, and that’s the kids that run backward up the walls. That’s not me. I didn’t have problems with that. I was more focused on things I was not interested in, which is hard, but on the other hand, I focused on things I was interested in. I can go for 3 to 4 days without sleep and get really good at that. For me, it’s a superpower because I know what it is and how to deal with it. Once you do, then it is a superpower. That’s something that I had to learn over the years.
Being in my early twenties, being in the music industry, touring, running a record label, and not knowing how to handle this caused some trouble along the way. I burned some bridges and those kinds of things. When you have ADD, especially severe ADD, you want to do everything. You want to please everyone but you also want to be part of everything you think is interesting and you can’t.
Let’s go from there. We want to talk about overwhelm. That’s part of why people feel overwhelmed. People confuse overload and overwhelm. One is emotional and one is capacity. The need to please and the need to be involved in everything, how do you approach and help people to understand the difference and recognize which one they’re in? Also, what are some techniques to get out of that space?
For me, personally, especially when I had a record label, that added a lot of work. That was my first real business. All of a sudden, I had responsibilities and these kinds of things. I had signed artists who were expecting releases to come out so their careers could move forward. At the same time, you get all these ideas for things you want to do and all the things you could do. It is then learning how to sort those out. You kill your darlings. It is that whole thing where you say, “I love this, but I can’t. I don’t have the capacity to get everything done.”
Once you understand how to weed it and learn how to say no, that’s where it starts. Learn how to say no when people ask you to do a favor or because you want to help them. You know you can help them. You know you are good at it. You know you can contribute and make their lives better. You want to do it but learning how to say no to that is hard.
How do we do that? Let’s talk about that because that’s a really big thing. Somebody who wants to please everybody and wants to help, how do they say no?
That’s difficult because you think you are the only one who can do this. You think you’re the only one that can help. That’s a very typical thing. It’s in the back of your mind, but you’re not. They’ll ask someone else or they’ll figure it out themselves. You’re not the only one that can save the world. You got to get that in your head.
It’s holding that understanding that we are not the only solution and that they won’t be desolate. They’ll find another solution. It’s holding that space for that. What else?
Once you get past that, then you’ll be able to at least free up some more of your own space. The problem is the more you say yes and the more you don’t get done, one thing is you’ll probably burn some bridges along the way. I did that when I didn’t follow through. It’s worse to say yes to something and not do it than it is to say no in the beginning. You have to remember that.It's worse to say yes to something and not do it than to say no in the beginning. Click To Tweet
You start burning bridges. The thing is that becomes an emotional overwhelm by itself. Since you really want to get this done and you are so eager, and you know you can do a good job, you feel like, “I’m the only one that can do it. I will help that person.” It keeps spinning in your head. That becomes overwhelming because you are, all of a sudden, not getting these things done. People start doing the exact opposite of what you want. They start not liking you.
You’re feeling bad about yourself because you’re not consistent with your own definition of yourself that you want to be respected and trusted and deliver something as you’ve promised and so forth. That sends you down a bad path as well. It’s recognizing someone else can do it and understanding that there is a cost to not delivering.
It is the cost of not delivering. Remind yourself that if you don’t get this done, it’s worse than saying no. That’s really the key. If you ask yourself, “Am I going to get this done? I have so many other things on my plate.”
That’s what I was going to ask you. Do you say, “What’s the percentage? What’s the chance that I won’t get this done?” If there’s any chance, then you don’t do that.
I look at myself and say, “Realistically, what are the chances that I’m going to get this done on time with everything? What else do I have going on? What else have I promised someone to do right now that I haven’t done yet?” Maybe I should get that done first and then say, “Ask me again next week.” I usually say, “I have too much on my plate right now. I would love to help you,” and people respect that. It’s a weird thing because we tend to get this idea in our heads that people will hate us if we say no to helping them but they don’t. At least in every example that I’ve had where I’ve said no to something, they respect that and it’s fair.
What happens though if, let’s say, they’re not an entrepreneur like you are? They’re somewhere where their boss is telling them that they have to do it. They don’t see an option to say no, but they’re already at capacity and feeling overwhelmed. What do you do then?
That’s very difficult. It really depends on the kind of workplace you’re in. If you have an HR, that’s what you do. You go to HR and say, “I’m completely stretched.” You look at yourself as well, like, “Am I doing things efficiently? Am I getting these things done that are priorities? Am I understanding what the boss is telling me that are the priorities? The thing I’m working on right now that I need to get done, is that what needs to be done or is it something else?”
At the end of the day, your boss wants certain things done. It’s never wrong to ask questions. You can always ask, “What should I focus on? I have a lot right now.” I’m sure that your boss would appreciate that more than hate you for saying that. They would like to hear, “I have a lot right now. Can you help me prioritize? What do you think I should do first?”
Maybe you can break some of those tasks down into smaller pieces so that you can do the pieces that are more urgent than others. Maybe the boss doesn’t remember all the things that you have going on or you have multiple people who are giving you things. Sometimes, we do need to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with that.
There is nothing wrong at all. Having employees myself, I love when I’m asked questions about certain things because that shows they’re listening to what it is that I’m asking. They want to clarify and do a good job at it. On the other hand, if someone says, “I’m completely maxed out. I’m stressed out. What can we do?” We look down and say, “What tasks do you have?” It’s fair. I have never experienced anyone getting any backlash on that. That’s something that people don’t really dare to do because they feel like that’s frowned upon or they feel like that’s a weakness in the eyes of their boss. It’s not. It’s the exact opposite.
Any other tips or tricks that you would suggest for people who are feeling overwhelmed?
This is a very tangible one that my mom had always told me. It is to go to bed and sleep. You’ll wake up tomorrow and there’s a new day. I use that all the time, or not all the time. If I’m overwhelmed by something, there’s something that’s bothering me, or I’m stressed out about something, then I go to bed and get a good night’s sleep. I go to bed early and make sure that I’m rested. The next day, you’ll have fresh eyes and look at things differently. You can tackle it. Once you’re in it, you’re probably not going to get anywhere with it, so get some rest.
It’s easy to get lost in something. You have to step away in some shape or form, whether it’s going to sleep, taking a walk, or taking a shower. There are a lot of different activities putting yourself into action, but stepping away from whatever it is is necessary. I do that all the time. I feel like, “I got to step away from this. I got to do something else, like read a book.” Somebody I was talking to said they go to the movies by themselves during the day. They go see a movie and that helps to take them out of whatever it is. They come back with fresh eyes.
Exactly. All of a sudden, you have a solution to whatever it is that you didn’t think about before. You can’t see that. You can’t see the forest of trees because you’re so focused on whatever solution you’re thinking, and that’s not working. You’ll keep getting spiraled down that rabbit hole. Get some fresh eyes on it.
The other thing I tell myself a lot is something I saw a long time ago. It is this solution-solving schema kind of thing. If you have a problem, can you fix it? Yes or no? If it says yes, then don’t worry about it. If you can fix it, you can fix it. Don’t worry. Go fix it. It’s really that simple. If you can’t fix it, then don’t worry about it. Since you can’t fix it, there’s no reason to worry about it. Deal with that part. Deal with not worrying about it. If you honestly think there’s no solution to it, then there’s no reason to worry about it.
If it’s outside of your control is what you’re saying. Maybe you could find out who can fix it. Is there someone else that can fix it?
It’s not yours to worry about.
It’s a series of questions is what you’re saying.
Remember, worrying is an extra layer of energy that you tag onto yourself that you need to get through. If you can fix something, go fix it and do that. Figure out how to fix it or act on it. There’s no reason to sit down and worry about it. If you can’t fix it and it’s out of your hands, then there’s no reason to worry about it either, so don’t worry.
Don’t worry. Be happy. Can you really do that though? I tend to be a worrier. I also follow the philosophy of being outside of my control. If it’s outside of my control, I’m better at letting it go. When it comes to personal or emotional types of issues like relationships, it gets inside me. Can you really not worry and let everything go?
I do. My wife says the same as you. She says, “Not everyone can do that.” I understand that everyone is different. I’m able to say, “I’m not going to worry. I know I can fix it so I’m going to put my energy into fixing it.” It’s rare that there’s something that’s not out of your control that you can’t do something about. It’s rare that you go over to the other end, but if you do, then there’s also no need to worry. Ninety-nine percent of the chance, you can do something. It’s about identifying, “What is it that I can do?” and then acting on that instead of sitting down and being passive.
I heard from someone, and I thought this was a good way to do it, is if you know that you have a tendency to worry or hold onto things, set a time limit and say, “I’m going to give myself this 30 minutes. I’m going to allow myself to worry and go down the rabbit hole.” After that’s done, it’s time to either let go because I can’t control it or take the action that I need to take to make sure that I get on with getting what direction I need. They give themselves that 30-minute pity party and then they move on. That’s also helpful because sometimes, we need to feel it. We need to freak out as long as we’re not freaking out on someone.
That’s spot on. I agree and understand that there needs to be, I don’t know what you can call it, this little buffer where you are allowed to have emotions. Not everyone can be stonehearted like me as my wife says. I have a good friend, Will Hentschel. His motto is, “Before you act, be calm and be still.” That is really good. It’s something that I’ve been practicing because I have a tendency to act right away when there’s something that bothers me. I try to fix things right away. Sometimes, you do need that little buffer. You need to sit down, lean back, and think about this for a day, depending on what it is, or for 1 hour, or 5 minutes, but be still.Before you act, be calm and be still. Click To Tweet
I like that. I’m writing a book about reset moments. A reset moment is that. It’s a purposeful pause to step back and get perspective on the situation before you take action and realign. That’s something I do practice as well.
It’s really good. It’s something I’m bad at. I wish I was better. Especially in a business, instead of replying to an email right away where I’m pissed about something that’s going wrong, I wait a day. By waiting a day, you have the upper hand all of a sudden. It completely changes the dynamic. Try it if you’re not used to it. Everything changes if you take time. All of a sudden, they start doubting themselves or whatever it is. It depends on the situation, but it’s good advice that I like to follow.
That’s a good one. It’s true because you see things differently in the day. You’ve had a chance to go to sleep and practice what you said earlier. You’re not stonehearted because you do get upset if you get an email like that.
You know how you’ve been in an argument and you walk away, and you’re like, “I should have said that.” It’s that feeling like, “I wish I’d said that. That would’ve been great.” That’s what you allow yourself to do if you wait. You get that upper hand. You get to think about it before you react. It’s hard, but it’s a good one to practice.
We’re coming to the end of the show. People only have so much attention span. When we talk about focus, saying no, and having strategies to let go of what we can’t control and things like that, what other key things would you want to share before we sign off here that is something that you cherish?
Being one with severe ADD, I get distracted by anything. I get distracted by little smells and anything. I ended up buying a vacation home in Denmark that I could travel to and sit in isolation in a forest to get stuff done if I really needed to get things done. It varies a lot from person to person. Also, when you have a diagnosis, the prevention of these things is harder.
For me, when I wrote the first version of Telzio, the software for our company, that was while I was waiting for my visa to come through to travel to America. I met my wife back then. I was going to travel here and live here. I had sold all my things in Copenhagen, put everything in storage, and moved up to my dad in Northern Denmark. I was sleeping on his couch while I was waiting for this visa to come through. It took three months.
Luckily for me, I was up there and there was nothing around me. My dad was away at work every day and my wife was in America. There was a time difference of nine hours. While I was up in the daytime, she was sleeping so I had no distraction there. It was just me. There was nothing on TV. Sometimes, you need that to get done. Even with that, I had a hard time focusing and getting that code written. Writing the code and typing out the code is maybe not that fun. It’s stuff that needs to be done. I had to whip myself every day and tell myself, “Come one. You can do twenty more minutes. You can write this. Finish this function right now.” I say it out loud to remind myself.
I was saying it out loud to myself many times a day because otherwise, I would fall into something else or start googling something. I would never have had the company if I hadn’t done that. Over the music industry, I was burned out by that. I’m like, “I need to do something else. If this idea that I have, which seems profitable and seems like a good idea, is ever going to come to fruition, I have to finish something and get it done.” It is isolation and then whip yourself to get it done and get stuff done.
Do you talk to yourself in the third person? You said, “You got to do this.” It’s interesting because it’s almost like it’s your friend who’s telling you, “You can do this.” I’m wondering if there’s anything to that, like speaking to yourself in the third person.
I don’t know. It is not something I’ve done a lot in my life. At that particular moment, I knew that this was a change in my life and if this was going to work, I had to get this code written. I had to put something out there. An idea will stay an idea. A business is not a business until you put something out. Everyone can get ideas.
I knew that this shouldn’t end up like so many other things I’ve done in my life where I get an idea and start working on something, and then it gets half done. I had to sit down and tell myself. I did talk to myself in the third person like, “You can do this. Come on. Finish this method.” I kept doing that and then all of a sudden, the whole day had gone.
I have a new theory now that when we talk to ourselves in the third person, it’s our cheerleader. It’s our friend. When we talk to ourselves and put ourselves down, it’s in the I. I have this new theory, I’m going to pay attention to my own inner voice and see if that comes up like that. I was in a time where if I didn’t take action, I could have died in the situation. I spoke to myself in the third person. I’m thinking about that like, “That’s interesting.”
It’s not something I’ve done before in my life. It’s not many times, but it worked. I was sitting there writing and typing away, All of a sudden, I had a full solution that was bigger than anything I’d ever built before. It worked. There’s something to it.
We’ll dive deeper into that. Tell us where we can find you and your software program so that people can connect with you.
If you want to reach out to me, it is PeterSchroeder.com. There are links to all my social media, my email address, and everything. If you want to try out Telzio, which is a business phone service, we have done a good job at building something that’s easy to use and works for businesses of all sizes. We have companies with 2 employees and companies with 5,000. We have Facebook, Google, Airbnb, Samsung, and companies like that as our customers. Go try it out. There’s a free trial. Reach out to our team. We are doing a good job. We have very friendly people.
Thank you so much for being here and sharing bits of your wisdom. I really appreciate it.
Thank you so much for having me. That was fun.
Thank you all for tuning in. We got some really good tips. Maybe you’ve heard before, “Say no,” but we got some nuances in there that were powerful in the ways that you can say no. We also talked about ways that you can approach things with fresh eyes. The end there was interesting. If you speak to yourself in the third person and you’re your own cheerleader, you can be more focused and handle some of this overwhelmed by saying to yourself, “You’ve got this. Get focused and get this done.” Try it out. Who knows? Thank you for being here. We’ll see you in the next episode.
About Peter Schroeder
Peter Schroeder is an award-winning DJ and entrepreneur who started Telzio, a company changing the way we work and communicate. With over two decades of experience, he’s teamed up with big names like Facebook, Samsung, and Airbnb. Peter has earned more than 20 platinum records, 40 gold records, and received three nominations for the Danish DJ awards. Even after facing challenges like surviving a plane crash, Peter’s passion and determination continue to inspire.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! https://pennyzenker360.com/positive-productivity-podcast