When you are feeling overwhelmed, stuck or trapped the answer is always to simplify by doing less.
Even on a good day, life can be overwhelming for many entrepreneurs.
Buzzing phones, email notifications, social media updates, to-do lists, expectations, getting new clients and the list goes on for the things that occupy our time.
On top of that we have money worries, and mental and physical health issues that can weigh us down.
So what do we do?
How can we move through life with less stress and overwhelm?
How can we grow our business in the midst of the complexity and complications?
I discovered after working with many entrepreneurs and finding ways to eliminate complication, complexity and the feeling of being stuck or trapped that the best way to reduce feeling overwhelmed is to simplify.
Have you ever found yourself in this situation, feeling overwhelmed?
Feeling like you have too much work to do and not enough time?
If the answer is yes, consider yourself normal.
As a business coach, I have conversations with entrepreneurs about feelings of overwhelm every day.
Too much to do and no time to reflect on achievements and focus on the future
The great news is that you can transform feeling overwhelmed into a state of calmness and balance.
Whether you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or a bit of both.
Here are seven things to remember when you’re feeling overwhelmed and some action steps you can take to regain balance in the midst of busy periods.
1. Accept responsibility
Take ownership of feeling overwhelmed and take responsibility for accepting to do all of that busy work.
You may have taken on too much work.
Rather than planning effectively, you may have given yourself too tight deadlines to get the work done.
If you are running from meeting to meeting, handling multiple projects and probably not giving the right attention and focus to the ones that really mattered, it’s easy to experience feeling overwhelmed.
Instead of doing everything, take a step back and get clear on the projects and activities that create the biggest impact.
Rather than overcommit, simplify the number of activities and give yourself longer deadlines.
When we see ourselves as responsible for everything, it becomes our choice to take on too many projects or not.
We can say NO to the work or the opportunity.
Rather than doing everything, we can find people with expertise to delegate to or outsource the work.
2. Confront your fear of missing out (FOMO)
So often I used to find myself overcommitted because I was afraid to say “no.”
This could be because I didn’t want to disappoint a client or friend or I was worried about another supplier picking up the work.
I was worried about missing out on an opportunity.
We sometimes feel like we should say yes to everything, to take on everything.
But if we gave ourselves some headspace to reflect, we would say no more often.
We would look at the bigger picture and ask ourselves questions like “Am I the only person who could do this work?”
“Does this opportunity fit within my overarching goals for myself and my business?”
The fear of missing out can be very powerful, and make you feel overwhelmed.
But in the end it is pointless as you are just following someone else’s agenda.
Stay on your own path.
3. Keep Your Perspective
When we’re feeling overwhelmed we often get so wrapped up in the moment that we can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.
We can’t see a present and future that’s not full of constant tasks, projects and busy work.
This is actually the optimal time to step back, reflect and think about what you have achieved and will achieve during this busy period.
What lessons can you learn that can help you move forward in the right way?
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take time to understand and reflect on your experience and look at the positives.
This puts you in an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity mindset.
4. Feeling overwhelmed? Change your calendar
As an entrepreneur you are in complete control of your time.
You may have lots of projects to work on and many impending deadlines but you can make changes to give yourself some time to think and focus.
Even though you may have a huge amount of projects to work on, you can still create space to think and plan.
Buy yourself more time by finding team mates and to take on some of the work.
If you don’t have the right levels of energy and focus to maximise your unique strengths you won’t be fully committed and the work won’t be as good.
You can always create more time, say no to a project or delegate.
If you can automate some of the processes that are taking up your time, even better.
5. Focus on the most important thing first
Multi-tasking at 20% capacity and worrying about everything drops our energy levels and focus.
Plus, it makes us really unproductive.
Your workload may look impossible, but by focusing on the most important thing first, you will make progress.
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One productivity tip that will work for you is to reflect at the end of the day on everything that you achieved.
Pick three things that went really well.
Then think about the next day and the three things that you want to achieve that day.
If you are focused on achievement and progress, rather than the sheer weight of work, you will stay motivated and energised rather than feeling overwhelmed.
6. Get plenty of rest
I learnt this lesson a long time ago and it has really helped me through any really busy period.
Rest and rejuvenation are essential for doing your most productive work
Personally, I can take on most things if I feel energised and had a good nights’ sleep.
We all have different periods of the day where we just seem to work a bit better.
For me, it is the morning. For you, it may be in the evening.
If I am tired, I can lose motivation and perspective. Things can often feel bigger than they actually are.
When I’m overworked I can also become easily distracted. What about you?
Also, if you are feeling overwhelmed, take yourself out of the situation, and give yourself five minutes to think through the situation you’re in.
Go for a walk, go to the gym, meditate – whatever works for you to get refocused.
7. Make a commitment to change
Feeling overwhelmed can happy every day if left unchecked.
Make a commitment to say no more to overwhelm.
When I feel overwhelmed, I make a commitment to take control of my time and focus it in the areas and the projects that really matter.
Spend more of your time in the areas where you can create the biggest impact, doing the things you love to do and are best at.
This will transform feeling overwhelmed into increased capability and confidence.
To succeed both personally and professionally, we must deliberately build more freedom and focus time into our lives, or our busy time will become permanent.
No one else is going to do this for us.
Instead of running nonstop, or feeling stuck, with no end in sight to overwhelm, you now have 7 strategies you can use to remove overwhelm from your life.
Which tip are you going to try first?
A version of this article originally appeared at Lucemi Consulting