Running our own business is an awesome adventure.
But there are times when it feels overwhelming.
If you experience overwhelm (and lets face it, we all do at times), read on to find out how I have learned to deal with it.
In the past I was dominated by anxiety, fear and overwhelm to the point where I had to seek help.
Why do we always wait till things are so bad to seek help?
Anyway, here are the things I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) so far:
First thing’s first. Hit the Pause button.
Few things are as bad as they first appear to be. When overwhelm hits, everything seems to fall apart around you.
Thoughts racing around your head (most of them self-critical), do little to help.
They are part of the problem.
When sitting down to write this post, I had intended to write about something else. Couldn’t really get “in the groove” with that and started to feel overwhlem as tones of things I needed to get done.
I started to write about 4 other posts just to try to feel productive.
I wasn’t pleased with any of them!
We’re geared to over-think and worry about worst-case, what-if scenarios. This morning’s train of thought was based on the unqualified assumption that I would NEVER be able to write a piece of content!
Great start, right?
This is exactly the kind of unhelpful judgement that will exacerbate overwhelm.
And you can wave goodbye to any kind of productivity.
Nothing will get done to any degree of quality because you are fighting with yourself.
Tip: Schedule your time and plan ahead. What I learned from writing this post is that I could have done with a structure for the blog post I intended to write. This structure I could have done the day before, making things ready for me to write the content.
Now I have lots of content ready in my blog inventory, ready to go. (More on that in the next post!)
Tell yourself that It’s OK:
It doesn’t mean that you’re failing at life and it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. It means that right now, you feel like it’s all too much. Forgive yourself for feeling like this because it’s not your fault.
Often it’s because we are trying to do too much at the same time, and not much is getting done.
Being overwhelmed (especially when running your own business) is understandable. We have to wear many hats on a daily basis and have many projects and things going on at the same time.
It can get very exhausting!
It’s impossible to feel better by beating yourself up right?
Tip: Try to catch yourself in self-criticism mode (or before if you can). For a second, pause and reflect on what is going on. Take a helicopter view of the situation. By ‘situation’ I don’t mean the particular things you are feeling overwhelmed about. I mean you.
Ask yourself this question: “Is what I’m doing helpful to myself or my goals?”
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the answer will be ‘No’.
Are you trying to do too much?
Taking a step back to look at the situation can give you some perspective.
On to the next step…
Take a time-out:
When things get overwhelming, the temptation is to sit and try to make sense of the mind-storm and force some order to the chaos.
You’ve proven to yourself time and again that any attempt to usher calm by brute force is not going to work.
You need to take a time-out.
“But wait! What? How can I do that when I have all these things I’ve got to do?!?!” – you might say.
The reason you are feeling overwhelmed is because of all the things you identify as tasks to attend to, at the same time. So the answer to the question is, “You’re not getting anything done right now”.
Science tells us that giving yourself downtime improves cognitive ability. This allows the brain to process things in the background. Things you can revisit later.
Write a task list (without trying to do everything on the list all at once!).
Tip: Science also tells us that by taking a walk in nature can boost our brain’s performance. Take a 20 minute walk, but be careful to leave the overwhelm behind. Don’t take that mind-storm with you. Be mindful and present on your walk. Notice sounds, sights and smells and focus on them.
Your brain is a great piece of equipment. While you are being present in the moment, it will be processing away in the background. All the tasks and problems (or what you first perceive to be problems) are getting some think-time.
A negative mindset will effect the things you want to achieve. You’ll be more susceptible to assume the worst about yourself, others and the work.
It’s easy to frame everything negative. We often see things as “problems” or “issues” to avoid or overcome as soon or as pain-free as possible. In some cases this approach is a good thing, such as when you hear a fire alarm. Applying this mindset to everything we come across is not helpful.
By framing things in the negative, we don’t see the benefits. The learning opportunities, the hard work and sense of achievement we get when we’ve done something challenging.
Tip: Try to re-frame “problems” or “issues” as “challenges” and “opportunities”. This does not change the thing that you are facing, but it does change how you approach them.
Re-approach with a plan
Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, take it one thing at a time.
I know that sounds obvious, but how many times do we easily forget this obvious thing?
Think of going to the supermarket for a weekly shop. It would be clumsy if everyone went without a list and tried to put everything in the trolley at once!
Actually some people do try. They are all over the shop! They can’t remember what they went for. Getting home they realise that whatever it was, it wasn’t what they came back with.
We’ve all been there at some point.
Tip: Make a to-do list of all your tasks. Prioritise the tasks and then schedule your time so that you can do them. Use Eisenhower’s Matrix to differentiate between what’s important and what is urgent.
A lot of how we approach things begins and ends with the mindset we choose to adopt.
Feeling overwhelmed is OK and completely understandable. Sometimes we need to look at why we get overwhelmed and be intentional to make a change.
Other times we get overwhelmed over the trivial.
Life has enough problems and stresses without adding to them.
Take time to refresh, re-frame and re-approach with a plan.
In the end it’s an opportunity to live and learn.
Feeling overwhelmed while running a business can be a sign that you have too much on your plate all at once. That’s why I’ve developed several help and support bundles to help businesses by taking care of their website management.
And can be there for them as a caretaker to make sure everything is running OK.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Do you have a personal strategy in place to help you through? Let me know in the comments.
Your adventure, your story.
See you out there!