5 Steps to overcome the overwhelm


Whether you are starting your business or in the thick of things with scaling it to the next level, the most common response I hear when I ask my clients or female business owners how they are feeling: is overwhelmed.

There is always so much to do. And despite having full days of getting through so many emails, meetings, decision making and more – there is a feeling of treading water and going nowhere fast as opposed to swimming towards the goal.

Part of the reason for this is that there really is so much that needs to be done however there are a number of things one can do to minimise the overwhelm and start gaining some level of control over one’s day and feel more of a sense of accomplishment rather than swimming nowhere fast.

1. Stop and Breath…I know that we do this automatically but when you start feeling very overwhelmed it’s because there are too many things going through our mind and we don’t know what to do first. To stop the whir in our minds we need to gain control of it rather than these thoughts being in control of us. By stopping, focusing on our breathing (basic meditation really), the whirring slows down. Things stop spinning and we start to gain perspective. If nothing more we slow our heart rate down which helps with gaining control of both our mind and our body.

2. Clarity of Goals. Yes it is important to have big goals for our business; to hit $1m turnover, sell 50,000 units, gain 10 new clients – whatever your goal is, it is important to have them to give us the direction we need. But having big goals alone doesn’t help you today to know what you need to do right now. So I use a technique called Backwards Planning with my clients to breakdown the big goals into small daily achievable goals. Let me explain. We work backwards from the big goals, break each one down to quarterly targets, monthly, weekly and sometimes even daily to dos. It means that it is clear what you need to achieve today in order to contribute to the bigger goals.

3. Big Rocks Small Rocks. Going on from my previous point, some tasks are more important than others. So the order of what we do with our day is essential to gaining control and calm, whilst achieving our goals. The concept comes from Dr. Steven Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The idea is that if we focus on the small insignificant tasks, even the ones that aren’t important that distract us (extensive time on social media, responding to EVERY email etc.) we fill up our time with things that make us seem like we are productive but when you look at the bank balance…not so much. So we need to prioritise our tasks each day – and the backwards planning technique can assist in doing that. By being clear on what you HAVE to focus on that day/ week, means when something shiny and interesting comes along you can ask yourself whether or not you want to give it your time or not.

4. Proactive vs. Reactive. You may be sensing a theme here, taking control. I am not a proponent of being in total control of every situation in order to have success. What I am suggesting is a mindset shift: from reactive to proactive. When in a reactive state we respond to whatever is immediately in front of us (email pop ups, phone calls etc) as opposed to thinking to one self, now the next thing I need to focus on is finalising my quarterly projections, or calling that client. The difference is the flow of energy. When in a reactive state the energy is all over the place, which creates overwhelm. When in a proactive state, your energy is targeted and less likely to overwhelm you.

5. Write a to do list. Simple but effective. Be clear on your day. Align your to dos with your bigger goals (aka backwards planning) and stay focused in the proactive state of mind to be as targeted with your energy as possible. We only have so much energy…it is not limitless (like time) so be wise in how and with whom you spend it.

Next week I will share with you more techniques on how to overcome your overwhelm and gain control in your day.

I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where together we can go through effective strategies to reduce your overwhelm. This is a real coaching session. Click HERE to book.


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