Dealing With Overwhelm

Posted by on Jul 06 2011

As I sit here writing my “to do” list for the upcoming months, I can feel that weird little tingle in the pit of my stomach: Overwhelm. There’s so much to do! How will I get it all done?

Then I remember all the tricks and tips I’ve learned over the years of how to manage entrepreneurial overwhelm:

1. Breathe. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take several deep breaths. Close your eyes and take a visual and emotional break from the craziness.

2. Get Organized. Write down your “to do” list all in one place (instead of having all those little Post-It notes all over your desk). Next, write a priority next to each item on your list. Is it urgent (“U”)? Is it Important But Not Urgent (“I”)? Is it something that has to be done this month, or can it wait until next month?

3. Get Help. Look at your list and determine if everything on it must be done by you. Don’t fall into the trap of “Oh, it will take me longer to explain it to someone than to just do it myself.” Instead, think of the “explaining time” as an investment: once you explain it one time, the other person can document the procedure and repeat it over and over again.

4. Action Alleviates Anxiety. Pick one high-priority task on your “to do” list and do it. Nothing relieves stress better than getting off your butt and taking action. Don’t fall in the trap of picking a low-priority task just because it’s easy. Do the things that matter.

5. Just Say No. Look at your “to do” list and ask yourself if you can simply say No to any of these tasks? Remember, you are in control of your task list and your calendar. Only you can overbook yourself, so only you can say No to requests for your time.

6. Focus. Avoid the temptation to multi-task and choose instead to focus solely on the task in front of you. If you have to, set a kitchen timer and tell yourself you’ll work on the task for 15 or 30 minutes without taking a break or doing other work.

Want more tips? Read my blog post 44 Tips for Dealing with Overwhelm!


I think I’ll start by taking a nice long breath…


2 comments for now

2 Responses to “Dealing With Overwhelm”

  1. Grokodile

    Half serious and half kidding.

    Once you’ve written them down, photocopy the first page of your new book and then promptly forget the rest, for now!

    22 Jun 2006 at 1:08 am

  2. Karyn GreenstreetNo Gravatar

    You’re not kidding! 🙂

    My To Do list is starting to look like a book!

    But you’re right: once you’ve identified the first 5 or 10 things you have to do, put away the rest of the list. Otherwise, you’ll just feel more anxiety because the list is so long. It will all get done…eventually. And if not, well then how important could those tasks have been in the first place?


    22 Jun 2006 at 2:15 pm

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