When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed (How To Take Back Control)
By Sean Greeley
One of the ongoing challenges that must be conquered when you’re growing a business is trying to deal with all the things coming at you.
Dealing with clients, doing the sales, doing the marketing, bookkeeping, administrative work, managing your email, finding a moment to eat lunch, trying to fit in your own workouts, get some sleep, and oh yeah… see some friends and family once in a while too!
That’s a lot of “stuff” to manage.
And the more successful you are, the more “stuff” will continue coming at you… faster and faster if you’re doing it right!
It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
It’s easy to get tired, stressed, and confused.
You’ll likely find you’re not able to think clearly, let alone keep up with all that’s happening at a rapid pace.
Believe it or not, this is NORMAL and to be expected if you’re growing at a fast rate.
Things will be busy.
Don’t wish for them to slow down.
Instead, learn how to better manage yourself and all the things around you and take back control with proper business management tools.
The question you should be asking yourself is:
“How can I better manage myself and all that lies in front of me to grow as efficiently and effectively as possible?”
But today I want to talk with you further about how to deal with those feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed when you have a lot on your plate.
With a growing team of around 60 now, three offices around the world (Orlando, London, and Sydney), and lots of events, partners and more that I’m involved with… I’ve had (and continue) to work through a fair bit of learning here.
You will too as you continue your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur.
Here are some helpful tips I’ve learned along the way:
1. Accept that you can’t do everything at once.
There is always something to do when you’re in “growth mode.”
You must accept that you can’t do everything at once.
And all major projects will likely take more time, more money, more energy, and more effort than you originally anticipated.
You like to smash big goals and hit targets.
But that energy must be balanced with patience and acceptance that Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your business.
SIDE NOTE: Some of our staff have been overheard saying that “Whoever said Rome wasn’t built in a day didn’t have Sean Greeley managing the project.” Too funny.
So take a deep breath.
Most stress we experience is self-imposed stress.
And you can work through and tackle just about anything given the time to do so.
Just be willing to adjust your timeline and expectations.
But keep the pressure on yourself and your team to do a great job and push through the hard yards (the sooner the better).
Where’s the line on balancing those conflicting strategies?
That’s where learning and experience come into play.
Keep going. You’ll figure it out.
2. Take a step back and define what’s most important.
When you have too much on your plate, and limited resources to get everything done, and it all seems urgent… take a step back.
Take a deep breath.
These situations require clear thinking.
And clear thinking requires a good state of mind.
When you reach the overwhelm point, be willing to call a time out.
Sometimes that means cancelling a couple calls or meetings and going for a walk.
Sometimes a good nights sleep is needed to create the head space required for clear thinking.
This might seem counter-intuitive.
You’ve got a lot to do.
Why call a time out or slow down?
Don’t you need to move faster to get more things done quickly?
But generally speaking clear thinking will yield much better results with less wasted energy and effort, rather than scrambling around like a chicken with your head cut off.
Of course you can’t always make decisions this way. You must also learn how to make good decisions when under fatigue and in the middle of a firefight on the battlefield.
But those are mental muscles that you’ll strengthen over time.
Ok, so you’re able to think clearly now?
From that place, define your priorities.
What’s priority #1?
What’s priority #2?
What’s priority #3?
What (realistically) do you have the time and resources to accomplish?
Keep in mind, not everything is a priority that you may think is a priority.
And often getting priority #1 accomplished is way better than half-way finishing #1, #2, and #3.
Once you’ve gotten the clarity needed on your priorities, it’s time to…
3. Create space to give those priorities your full attention.
Full attention means time.
You can’t properly execute on priorities when you’ll only be able to work on them for a few minutes here and there.
Don’t be afraid to clear your schedule.
Cancel other appointments as needed.
They can wait.
You’ve got priorities, right?
That means other things (and people) will have to go into a holding pattern.
Create ‘blocks’ of time (generally 3 hours at minimum) to work on your priorities.
When working on major items, it often takes a little bit of time to get going and find your groove.
Then once you’ve found it, you don’t want to have to stop or quit.
You need to be able to “push the pedal to the metal” and get the right things done.
Of course, there will be some things you just simply can’t reschedule.
Major clients, meetings, and consults all still need to be completed and sometimes you may be the only one who can handle those responsibilities right now.
Take things one step at a time.
Renegotiate commitments where you can.
And find assistance to help with some of your responsibilities.
More often than not, you’ll find that if you have good people around, they want to see you succeed and will be there to support the adjustments needed to make the right moves.
They’ve got your back!
4. Manage your focus and energy.
As you work through your priorities, managing your focus and energy is critical to your success.
It’s easy to become distracted… you’ve got a lot coming at you after all!
This is where focus and discipline comes in.
You must learn to compartmentalize the various things you’re working on.
When you’re working on your priorities, that’s all that matters.
You must not allow your mind to wander.
Don’t be working on one thing and allow your mind to be thinking about three others things.
That doesn’t work.
Put your phone in airplane mode.
Close the door (or leave the gym).
And focus on what’s in front of you.
Drink water to stay hydrated.
Make sure to eat some healthy meals and snacks as needed.
And get some sleep (even a 10 minute nap can be helpful if needed).
Keep your energy up… and keep hammering on those priorities!
5. Drive through the finish line.
Too many people start out strong and then stall out or quit before the job is done.
Don’t do that.
And run through the finish line.
Once you’ve FINISHED working on a priority, and it’s all done and dusted, then repeat this process as needed to move onto the next priority.
What about when something changes?
That’s the fun part about business. The dynamics change all the time.
It’s a moving sport.
You’ve got to be wiling to re-shuffle the deck, adjust your priorities based on new information, changes in your resources, or other issues that will inevitably come up.
It’s all part of the journey.
Start with #1 and work your way through #5 again.
This is where character is forged and leaders are born… in the line of fire on the battlefield.
You’ve got this!