Simple Steps to Control Entrepreneurial Overwhelm

Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in Blog, Focus, Small Business | 0 comments

Yes, workers have taken on extra duties and responsibilities after this recession thinned out the workforce, but that’s nothing compared to what small business owners take on. Making that transition has been eye-opening for me, that’s for sure.

When the overwhelm starts to creep up my legs and before I feel like I am drowning, I take some steps to beat back the fear and anxiety. I have gathered some strategies that work best for me. You have to find your own “best practice,” but maybe some of these will find their way into your arsenal:

First, reduce or eliminate distractions:

  • Turn off the news. We get bombarded with every little happening and two days of commentary on it through all the media channels. Turn off the TV news. Stop the updates on your phone and tablet. If it is really important, you’ll hear about it. You control the news you want to take in.
  • Look at your big rocks. What are the tasks and deadlines you absolutely cannot let slide? Prioritize them and choose two everyday that you will work on – if not complete.
  • Set aside the phone. I really mean it. Set it in another room and turn off the volume or set it to vibrate. Give your work your full attention. If you want to time block, set a timer.
  • Close the Facebook and Twitter tabs on the computer. Yes, many of us use social media for our business, but a lot of the posts are just “for fun” and distracting.

If you take a look at many workers in any office, you’ll see that real, productive work is fleeting. Work a little, talk a little, get some coffee, go to the bathroom, file a little, check email a little. There is a lot of non-productive time that is being paid for – and wasted. As an employer, you wouldn’t like to see that – you can’t eliminate it all from your day, but as both employer and employee you can harness it.

Next, develop habits, processes and systems:

  • Create routine. Check your email at a certain time. Start the day with a certain task EVERY day. Granted there will always be a rush project or a fire to beat down that sneaks up on you, but the more proactive you are and the more you stay on top of what needs to be done, the fewer last minute zaps you’ll have.
  • Establish schedules. Plan work days, meeting days and networking events ahead of time – and stick with them. Don’t give in to every meeting request that interferes with your work days. Of course, there will be some flexibility needed, but make that the exception, not the rule.
  • Let it stew. If you have a project pending, chunks might work for you. Get down immediately your inspirations, but don’t push it to completion. Forced creativity usually results in the final product feeling stilted. Get the first ideas down and then let it stew in your head for a bit. Schedule time (before the last minute) to work on it again. Even though you don’t think you are spending time thinking about it, it’s running through your mind like a hidden program in your computer. When you work on it, you’ll see the results – in less time spent and in quality of the final product. But, again, don’t wait until the last minute.
  • Work diligently for a period and then take a break. Take a walk, run an errand, do some sort of physical movement even if it is unloading supplies or emptying the dishwasher (if you work from home). Do it – and then go back to work.

Are you sensing the idea of what you are building? Yeah, don’t want to admit it very loudly, but you are gaining control. And it’s human to want to have a sense of control. Feeling in control can calm your nerves. So go ahead, get control of all the static-y overwhelm. Then you can breathe – and be really productive.

Just think about it

 

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