As an entrepreneur, life can get overwhelming pretty fast… as I’m sure you have figured out by now. Projects pile up, clients impose deadlines, fires need extinguishing…and that is just on the business end! Somehow you also need to find time to do a grocery run, take the dog to the groomers, shuttle the kids to soccer practice and art class, all while dealing with being sleep deprived, of course.
It is common to have periods of being utterly overwhelmed in your business and life. Heck, it is almost a rite of passage for entrepreneurs to face…again and again. When you feel the stress and tension headache bubbling up, get into action with these five things to do when you get overwhelmed.
1. Get Rid of as Many Stressors as Possible
If you have too much on your plate right now, clear off the plate! As go-getter entrepreneurs, we can find ourselves overcommitted quickly. Maybe we hate saying no. Maybe we underestimated the time commitment when we said yes. Maybe when it rains it pours and you find yourself now drowning. Whatever the reason, you do not need to resign yourself to struggling to bear the weight of everything needing to get done.
Ask yourself if everything needs to be done. Then ask yourself again. Much of what we do can be automated or streamlined. Can you batch tasks to get them done more efficiently? Is it worth investing in a Virtual Assistant? Is the output on a task really worth the time and effort cost? Ruthlessly evaluate everything on your to-do list and then eliminate, automate, and streamline.
Then look at what’s left and delegate everything you can. It can be tough to hand over the reins to someone else, but you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel once you do. It’s an immediate solution to getting more off your list. Sure, you may stress a bit wondering if the person will get everything done. But reassure yourself that they will (or worst case scenario someone else can pick up the slack).
2. Sit Down and Write It Down
Wake up and journal! Apparently, it’s an actual movement?! When I get overwhelmed, you know what I do? Sit at my desk and literally open a page, close a page, look here, look there, open Facebook, look through this folder, then the next. I get ZERO done! I waste so much time just trying to figure out where to start. I recently started my day out with a note pad. I take a few minutes every morning to create an excellent plan of action for the day. Tim Ferris said in one of his podcasts, to sit down and immediately start working on the things on your list that is the biggest priorities. Don’t even check your email he said!? What! I tell you… it works! I have learned to prioritize and stop wasting precious time.
Taking a few minutes to write everything down makes a world of difference. Seeing everything in black and white makes it instantly less stressful. A list can be tackled. A list has an endpoint. A list means we are no longer wasting precious mental energy trying to keep track of everything in our minds. Writing it down helps us “clear our heads” and see the full picture, allowing us to more effectively strategize.
Once you make your list, prioritize tasks and attach deadlines to everything. It will help you feel less like things are hanging over your head, which helps reduce feeling overwhelmed.
3. Get Up and Go Out
Now that you have eliminated everything possible from your list and articulated everything you need to do, step away from the chaos for a moment. But I don’t have the time you may think.
Here’s the thing. You do.
You can spare fifteen minutes to go for a walk outside and clear your head. Nature has a unique calming effect on our bodies and our brains. Study after study shows the near healing power of being outside. Spend a few minutes walking around in nature and do not obsess over your to-do list. Focus on the sights and sounds around you, your breathing pattern, a fun memory from a recent time with a loved one, whatever it takes to think about anything other than what you need to be doing next. Clearing your head will help stop your stressed-out fight or flight mode and return your body to a healthier state, allowing you to get started on your to-do list with a focused mind.
4. Be Proactive in Managing Your Stress
Now that you have returned to the grind, ready to tackle your projects, it is important to proactively manage your stress. It is not sustainable for your physical and mental wellbeing to go from overwhelmed to workaholic mode, to feeling fine for a few days, only to return to feeling overwhelmed. When our projects pile up, it can be hard for us to justify taking breaks. But breaks help refuel our energy and help make us more productive. Breaks help us get more and better quality work done in less time.
It’s important to not wait until you feel overwhelmed to take a break. It will take longer to return to a state of calm than if you instead proactively take breaks before you feel overwhelmed. There are many break time strategies, with the Pomodoro method being a steady favorite. Work for 25 minutes. Take a 5-minute break. Repeat four times and then take a 30-minute break. Repeat until the workday is done. This proactive managing of your stress will help prevent future feelings of being overwhelmed.
5. Practice Daily Self Care
Caring for yourself is one of the most important things you can do, both for yourself and your business! To perform at your best capacity, you need quality sleep, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and time for yourself. Journal your feelings. Get massages. Read in the backyard. Find one or two habits designed just for your self-care, not for being productive, and engage in them every day. One of my favorite things to do is yoga, clearing the mind and just taking the time out of my day to focus helps my mind and body stay in shape. It will help you feel better overall and fight those feelings of being overwhelmed.
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