I know it so well. That feeling of overwhelm.
Feeling like I’ll never get it all done. Feeling like I have so much to do and not enough time to do it in.
Feeling pressured by all I want to accomplish and all that my life entails. Feeling like it never ends, no matter how efficient I am.
My brain gets scattered and I can’t even put a sentence together because my thoughts are going in so many different directions simultaneously. Just thinking of everything on my “list” makes me tired.
My energy is waning and my mind is relentless.
What’s a business owner to do?
Here are four little tips for breaking out of the overwhelm mindset:
- Focus. Stop multi-tasking. Stop doing it all (or telling yourself that you are). Choose one task. Choose just one thing. Focus. Then spend a reasonable amount of time only working on that one task. Take 15 minutes, set the kitchen timer, and just do it. Don’t try to do other things simultaneously. Really. Keep practicing. Keep focusing. It will calm you and you’ll get more done with a lot less stress.
- Declutter. This can be one of the tasks you choose to focus on (see above). Spend a few minutes – that’s all it takes to get a handle on most areas – and put things away. Sort the unopened mail. Clear off the kitchen counter. Declutter your computer desk. Take the folded laundry upstairs. Shred or recycle the stack of paper that’s waiting. Choose any of the areas that cause you the most mental frustration when you’re feeling overwhelmed and just dive in. Get it cleared up. Get it put away. Then take a breath and let your mind feel a little less overwhelmed and a little less cluttered.
- Subdivide. Often, we’re overwhelmed because we’re looking at the whole thing – the entire project, or list, or goal. Or we’re seeing the whole range of things to be done. Step back and subdivide your list or project. This is a matter of focusing in on one small section. Find the one doable step that you can do right now. Put the rest aside. Break things down into smaller and smaller subdivisions until it feel manageable. Then go back to Tip #1 and focus in on that single item.
- Rest. It’s inevitable. You work too hard and too long and then what have you got? Not enough energy left to do much of anything. Don’t let yourself continue until you’ve reached that state. It only adds to your feelings of being overwhelmed. Instead, take a break. Work on something and then take a short break to rest. Take a walk, call a friend, read to your kids, make a cup of tea, just sit and breathe. Take a nap. But, please, take a break and rest. Your mind will clear and your body will thank you.
The next time you start feeling overwhelmed, I invite you to catch it early.
Remember these four little words – Focus, Declutter, Subdivide, and Rest – and then choose one of them to act on.