So many readers write in with this question: “how do I deal with overwhelm?”
A few weeks ago, I was dealing with my own overwhelm. I had many meetings day after day after day (which means you get behind on the office stuff), my normal business activities plus I had to re-write a LOT of the copy for the website. All on deadline!
Add to that the stuff of life like cooking, cleaning and gym and you can see why I felt overwhelmed.
Doesn’t it feel good to know you’re not alone?!
We all have our own stories but the FEELINGS are exactly the same – a sense of being out of control and a to-do list a mile long!
So what did I do to cope?
1. MAKE A LIST
I printed out 10 of my master to-do lists because it felt like I had hundreds of things to do.
I used one page for each project – website, clients, etc…
The amazing thing was my imagination was much worse than reality because I only needed 4 of those 10 pages ;) Honestly, it does help to see how bad it really is, or isn’t.
2. ASK YOURSELF A KEY QUESTION
When you feel overwhelmed, it’s important to realize that “this too shall pass” and to CONTINUALLY ask yourself this question:
What is the MOST important use of my time right now?
Remember, it’s not about being busy, but about being effective!
3. CUT OUT ALL NON-ESSENTIALS
Once you have the answer to that question, it’s easier to cut out the non-essentials.
Let go of the minor website changes and the email responses to your blog comments. Rather answer only client emails.
When the busy period is over, re-look at those non-essentials and REALLY question whether you even need to add them back into your life.
4. FOCUS AND EAT YOUR FROG
Now that you know what is MOST important, switch off cell phones, email, etc. and get it done.
If you have to do a proposal for a company, do nothing else til it’s done. That’s so that even when your day is done and the to-do list is still half a mile long, at least you have a sense of ACCOMPLISHMENT in having completed that task.
5. CATEGORIZE AND BATCH
Once you’ve eaten your frog, and you still have energy, then categorize whatever’s left and tackle those items in batches.
Take your to-do list and use letters in the margin, like P for phone, E for email, etc. Then pick up the phone and make all your phone calls in one go. You save energy because you prepare once instead of 5 different times in the day.
And THAT is how I dealt with my overwhelm.
Next time you feel overwhelmed, try these 5 steps and get rid of that overwhelm at once.
Marcia Francois is a time management and business organizing coach who helps small business owners break out of overwhelm, make the most of their time and get important projects done. Visit http://organiseyourbusiness.com for your free 7-part audio series, 7 tips for time-strapped business owners.