This guest post about Entrepreneur SOS from Cori Padgett is half of a perspectives exchange. To see Danny’s take on this, check out his guest post Eye of the Online Entrepreneurship Tornado!
Listen people – shit happens. OK?
Now it’s all out in the open. Life is messy, shit happens, and sometimes you just can’t help feeling overwhelmed by the weight of it all.
Maybe you’re on a tight deadline with work. Maybe you’re going through a rough relationship. Maybe you’ve got a family that lives to drive you batty. Hell, maybe you’ve got all three!
No really, hear this.
We all have moments like that; it feels like the hits don’t stop and we’re doing our best just to stay in the fight, dodging left hooks and keeping on our feet.
If we actually manage to accomplish something productive or worthwhile to boot, then hot damn, we’re on a roll!
But 9 times out of 10, nothing worthwhile or productive gets accomplished. When we’re floundering that hard, the logical next step is to figure out how to stop sinking and start swimming back up for air.
That way we CAN accomplish all the demands on our time. But how can we do it?
Let’s start with these tips:
Sometimes You Just Gotta Breathe
It might sound over-simplified but one of the best ways I’ve found to whack my way out of the “weeds” and start feeling human and back in control again is to take a step back (sometimes a few) and BREATHE.
In and out, nice and slow, deep breaths.
Get up and go outside for a short walk. Enjoy the fresh air, clear your mind of all the clutter and… just breathe. Sometimes the feeling of being overwhelmed and burdened is simply a symptom of an over-active mind working on too many problems at once “in the background”.
They might not be issues you are really concerned about, but in the back of your mind the motor is running, constantly tossing and churning out possible solutions, ready for when the issue DOES become one you need to be really concerned about.
People, this sort of behavior is EXHAUSTING. Literally! It’s like your brain never shuts down, never allows you to fully rest and recharge and as a result your mental capacity dials waaaay down to “stuck on stupid.” You can’t handle walking the dog much less kicking ass on that client project or handling the day to day issues that running a business requires.
I liken it to how your computer responds to commands when it’s got 50 programs running in the background. Long story short? It doesn’t respond or if it does it’s slow and inefficient. Hey… now that sounds kind of familiar now doesn’t it?
So take a time out, shut down all of those unnecessary programs and just breathe. You’ll feel better, I promise.
Take Back Control
One of the most frustrating feelings that come with being overwhelmed is the lack of control you feel over your situation. As an entrepreneur you often juggle many hats. You hold the reins, you are in control. But when you’re struggling through the weeds, I think it’s easy sometimes to forget you hold the power to change your situation.
One of the ways I personally find useful in helping to regain some control and perspective is to list it all out. I literally list out every single thing circling around in my brain that I want/need/plan to do. Whether it’s something I actually end up doing or not is not really the point.
The point is getting it out of my head and down on paper in effect let’s me “release” that thought and make room for a little more clarity in my brain. So a list for me might look something like this:
- Write new blog post for Big Girl Branding.
- Shave the dog.
- Buy almond milk ASAP.
- Write a guest post for X blog.
- Finish copy for client.
- Etc, etc. J
Once I’ve got my list made (I call it my accomplish list rather than my to-do list) I can then go on to the next step in helping me to regain control.
Obviously once you’re done writing that list out it will probably be rather long. That can trigger a panic attack if you aren’t careful so remember step one… BREATHE!
Once you’ve got your list made it’s time to set some boundaries.
Trying to tackle every single thing on that list will only make your head spin. So come up with a number of tasks you’re comfy completing in a day. Make this a number you feel you’d be comfy at on a daily basis, if you were as productive as you’d like yourself to be.
For me, I shoot for the top 5 things I want to accomplish in a day. Now this doesn’t mean I actually have to complete all 5 tasks, but my goal is to at least get a running start on them and make a good solid dent. Maybe I only complete 3 of them fully, but the remaining two I get 50% done or 75% done.
I’m okay with that!
The trick is to whittle down your list each day to the absolute priorities that you want to accomplish. Focus on the tasks that move you closer to your goals and that earn you revenue in some way or make a long-term impact on your business.
And of course your karmic bank counts too, so you can make “giving back” a part of your priority list as well!
As you’re going through your list and prioritizing, take stock. There are probably some things on your list you can nix completely without too much heartache. There are also probably plenty of things on your list that are low priority and can easily wait a few more days, even indefinitely.
Your job is to prioritize ruthlessly and any tasks that do not help you grow as a person or as a business? Give ’em the boot. If you absolutely can’t escape them, hire someone to handle them.
When you can’t eliminate a task, you can’t outsource it, and you can’t prolong it indefinitely, renegotiate it. Ask to extend the deadline and then make sure you way over-deliver when you meet the new deadline to make up for your slacking, overwhelmed ways. 😉
When All Else Fails…
Get drunk. Dance till you drop. Laugh with your friends and party like an aging rock star. Take a vacation. Go on a technology fast. Whatever it takes for you to completely disconnect from the feeling of helplessness being overwhelmed can inspire.
Then go back in a day or three and see how you’re feeling then.
Remember that it doesn’t matter how “scattered” you might feel in the moment. It doesn’t matter how overwhelming things in your life seems at times, whether on a business level or a personal level.
It. Just. Doesn’t. Matter. And it’s not nearly as big and bad an obstacle as you currently might think.
Ultimately YOU have control of the reins (well… except when God has them perhaps) and how things unfold around you. You influence your immediate surroundings to bring about perceptions that feel “realistic” for you.
Your thoughts and mental attitude shape your life. You choose how to react to pressures around you, and ultimately you choose how to handle roadblocks and whether or not you will rise above them or allow them to drown you like the proverbial rat and take away your power.
How will you take back control of your life and mind today? How do you find your way clear of the weeds? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.