When you are starting out in business, there is this feeling of excitement. You are inspired and passionate and you work…you work hard.
Nothing fazes you. You feel in control and you have this overwhelming love for everything you do. From learning how to build your website, to designing your business plan, to implementing your marketing, the list goes on.
However, there are times (and while they might not of reached you yet, I can guarantee they are coming) where you will go into total ‘overwhelm’. Overwhelm. Panic mode. It will come if it hasn’t already. The question is do you know when you are in overwhelm? OR what to do to get out?
‘Business overwhelm’ is a creation killer. Tasks just seem to pile up on you and you cannot see the end of your list.
I have become an expert in my overwhelm cycle. I start off with procrastination. It is like I am on an escalator and moving down instead of heading up. My list becomes too long to get my head around and I start to look for ways to escape. Next stage? I go into panic mode and everything becomes a problem. Next, and very quickly, I find myself staring into oblivion, rocking like a baby.
Ok, that might be a bit extreme but suffice it to say that when I reach that stage, it feels like it has all become too hard. And I have learned that when you are incredibly hard on yourself, the only way to get out of that overwhelmed state is to let go.
Foreign concept ‘letting go’. I struggle with this but I had to learn that while I know I can do every task, I don’t HAVE TO DO every task and to grow your business you HAVE TO pass stuff off to other people. Delegate.
My next stage on the overwhelm escalator is that I find myself getting over-emotional. I start to have a mini breakdown. It’s like I become a teenager who doesn’t want to clean her room and I start stamping my feet. ‘NO, go away , leave me alone!!’ Childish, but we have all been there.
(Well…maybe it is just me?)
When I start to feel myself panicking like this, the first thing I do is stop what I am doing and go outside and take a quick break. Walking around the block for 5 minutes does wonders.
Then I do a brain dump: I use ASANA for this and writedown everything I have to do, personal and business. Once done, I look at each task and decide which things I can give up to other team members (I add the notes I need for the task and flick it to the member to do for me and set a date and time it is due). Next, I go back over the now-revised list and work out what is urgent. (The things that are less urgent, I divide up over the rest of the week.) The thing you have been putting off all day is usually the thing you need to do ASAP. I set myself a time to get that task done. Like I’m stepping into the ring to fight, I try to to break the task up like a fight (3 rounds of 2 minutes each). Breaking it up into compartments helps me reduce the overwhelm factor, so the task doesn’t seem so big.
Then I put on some music and go for it. (Sometimes your days don’t go to plan so you will find that this method won’t be foolproof but don’t give up.)
One of the things you have to pay attention to is how many times are you going into overwhelm. If it is a constant weekly thing then there are some fundamental issues you need to sort out. It could be you don’t have a good staff to work coming in ratio. These are things you have to keep adjusting all the time. There is no point being in business if you are having to work 15 hour days to service your clients. In fact, the longer you work, the harder it is for you to NOT make mistakes and you won’t be performing at your best.
Stopping work on time and dividing the workload will not only help you achieve more but you will stop going into overwhelm.
I hear you. ‘I don’t have enough money to pay someone else.’ Then the question is are you in a business or have you designed yourself a job—a job where you are working 60 hours a week?
Sometimes it is worth the sacrifice to hire someone 5-10 hours a week so you can go home and get time for you.
Each month, assess where your business is at, how much it is bringing in versus the amount of work you and your staff are putting in. Make adjustments. (For example, put up your price if you spend more time on one of the packages you designed.)
Start looking at your business processes. When you are growing, the processes you start with do not necessarily serve you as well once you have started to grow, they need to be changed to take account of that growth. (And do not forget to keep a record of the processes so when it is time to take on more staff it is easy to pass on the knowledge.)