Overwhelm just a fact of life for entrepreneurs, right?
The truth is that we never run out of things that we can do in our business (call it ‘job security’). But having a steady, never-ending to-do list, and being overwhelmed by your to-do list, are two different things.
While you CAN help overwhelm with mindset work, meditation and tapping, you can also use some simple strategic ‘hacks’ to reduce the overwhelm.
Which of these will YOU try?
1) Write it down.
‘It’ means ‘everything’. Doing a brain-dump of everything you need to do or take care of is critical to your sanity. A brain-dump is simply a list (on paper or computer, written down) of everything that’s in your head. You can brain-dump once a week, or once a day, but when you write down everything that you’ve been trying to keep track of in your head, there’s an immediate sense of peace.
As you’re doing your brain-dump, don’t try to prioritize or edit. Yes, it may seem like ‘look up flights to Italy for next summer’s vacation’ does not belong next to ‘write my next blog post’. However, the purpose of a brain-dump is to get these items out of your head. You can prioritize and categorize them later. For now, just write.
2) Cross 20% off your list.
When you get overwhelmed, usually the first thing to go is your sense of calm. The second thing to go is your good judgement, meaning you begin immediately seeing everything as equally important. When you’re overwhelmed, you’re in a ‘lowered resource state’ and you tend to be harder on yourself than you might be at a better-resourced time.
There will be things on your brain-dump list that you don’t have to do this week, or even this year. Put them in a file or document and title it ‘to review in 2018’. There, now you’ve saved it and can cross it off your list. If you force yourself to cross off 20%, you’ll free up time and space to do the truly important. Hint: brave souls can go for crossing off 40%!
3) Eat the frog.
Much of our overwhelm comes from fearing, or mentally wanting to avoid the difficult tasks. Usually the most difficult tasks aren’t the ones that take the most brain power, or creativity. They’re the ones that FEEL the most difficult.. making a request for a referral, or reaching out to people you met at a networking event, asking if they want to have a consultation with you. Fear of rejection can make items on your to-do list feel enormous.
One of the easiest ways to end overwhelm is to ‘eat the frog’, which is slang for ‘do the most difficult thing on your to-do list first.’ If you look at your to-do list, and there is one item you really want to procrastinate or move to another day, do it first thing. The rest of the day will look less overwhelming, and much easier.
4) Create slush time.
While we’d always like to perfectly estimate the amount of time it takes to do a task, that’s unrealistic. Overwhelm can also come because we have tasks during a day that we worked on, but couldn’t complete. If you leave ‘slush time’ on your schedule, meaning time that is available but un-scheduled, you can finish up those tasks that didn’t get done during the day.
Try giving yourself 30 minutes of slush time a day, and a couple of hours on Friday afternoons. This ‘savings account’ of time will give you a sense of peace and calm.
5) Get guidance to remove the unneeded.
One of the reasons our to-do lists fill up is that we’re chasing some ideas that aren’t the right ideas for us at the time. There are SO many avenues to build a business, how can you know, not only that you’re doing an activity that will actually help YOUR business, but that you’re doing it at the right time in your business development?
Too often entrepreneurs choose a great activity for business-building, but because it’s the wrong time (usually too early) they’re wasting time and money pursuing it. One strategic way to avoid this is to get guidance to remove the unneeded, or the untimely, from your to-do list.
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