Strategies for the Overpacked Life


What ever happened to labour saving devices?

If so much labour has been saved, how come we are perpetually overloaded, overwhelmed, and overstressed by our lives? How is it that we have less leisure time than ever, and feel so oppressed by detail?

Life in the 21st century is characterized for many by endless demands, constant racing from place to place, and powerful striving to keep up and achieve a sense of satisfaction in one’s life. This presentation looks at the ubiquitous experience of feeling overwhelmed by modern life. It explores the origin of this feeling, how we voluntarily bring it about, and its effects on quality of our lives.

We provide the central metaphor of an overstuffed backpack that weighs us down, and show how this points us to four primary coping techniques:

1. Reducing the amount we attempt to put into the backpack (in terms of ongoing tasks, a surplus of projects, and too many possessions weighing us down).
2. Increasing the amount we move out of the backpack by using simple strategies to improve efficiency.
3. Reducing the time that tasks spend in our “in-basket” by moving them from input to output quickly.
4. Increasing our capacity to manage our lives by emphasizing self-care.

Concrete recommendations for each category are offered.

Although designed for the general public, this presentation may be helpful for employees in particular sectors (such as healthcare, financial services, or education) as a self-care seminar designed to reduce burnout and career exhaustion. For a corporate audience we may put more of a focus on work tasks and time management; for a general group we may put more emphasis on coping with outside-work demands.

If desired, participants can receive an information package with a slide handouts and a series of instructional documents and worksheets.

Formats: Available in 90- and 120-minute versions, as well as half-day and full-day workshops. Shorter versions can give a thought provoking overview, whereas longer versions can give deeper understanding of this difficult and complex topic. These presentations work best with visuals, so there is normally a screen with presenter’s laptop and host’s (or presenter’s) projector.