No matter how strong you are as a business owner, at some point you will feel the business overwhelm. Unless you take measures to reduce the risk of it happening, it becomes part of the job. As a business owner your stress of workload can be activated by other external (to you) aspects. If you have staff and are working in a customer service space, then it is likely you receive complaints, pulled contracts or other such negative feedback. All of these only add to your internal stress.
The reality is, it’s not easy.
We need to work hard and consistently look for strategies that allow us to work smarter when ‘Marketing’ our service, ‘Selling’ our product and managing our ‘Teams’. The key is to remain positive and protect your head space – your mental health.
The reality in any business is there’s always going to be too many ideas, too many deadlines, and not enough time to fit it all in. This is when Business overwhelm hits. Since shutting your business down is not an option, nor is hiding in the corner, you need some simple strategies to help you to cope with the chaos. Your challenge is to calm the business overwhelm.
The Challenge for Small Business Owners
As much as having your own business provides you with your own choices, it also brings with it pressure. In an online survey I read recently 60% of business owners said they would like to have more time over less work. 80% said they wanted more freedom.
As a small business owner, you’re most likely inundated with urgent tasks every day. Getting everything done on time is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm you.
Start making lists to prioritise your tasks and plan properly. By staying organized, you will have more time and convenience to juggle work and personal commitments.
Then once a month, go back to your list to see outstanding tasks that require your immediate attention. Or even to cross off the ones that actually didn’t even need doing.
Meditation or Breathing
When you feel over whelmed. STOP working. Stand up, and walk away from your desk.
Take 3 deep breathes, thinking only about the breaths. Stand for 3 minutes without moving. Visualise your day and getting 3 important tasks done. Consider what happens first, what happens next, and so on. This process sounds too simple to be effective, and yet it is very powerful. In fact more and more successful entrepreneurs practice daily breathing rituals.
Get out of your business, away from your computer, and connect with others. Connecting with others is a primal need in humans, so we need to do it. So often we connect via a computer, yet face to face is more powerful. Prepare ways to talk to others and ask some really great questions, so that they feel heard.
Break each project task in smaller chunks and allocate time in your diary to get it done. Chunking allows you to feel progress. Allocate 90 minute blocks of time for the top 3 tasks each day. After 90 minutes get up and stretch. It gets your endorphins flowing, and reactivates your brain, whilst also stretching your legs.
As a business owner, you are going to have countless responsibilities and many different roles to play. Taking on more than you can do is perhaps one of the most overwhelming parts of your job. Consider what you can delegate to someone else – think about virtual assistants – they come with so many skills, and can always help in some way.
It may be difficult to relinquish control, but by delegating some of your more mundane tasks, you have the opportunity to work on what really matters. Along with transferring some of your activities to other people, you should look for ways to automate activities and find methods to streamline some of your more time-consuming processes. Not only will you have more time for the important tasks, but you will also be able to complete them more thoroughly.
The in betweeners
Create a list of small items that can be achieved in about 2 or 3 minutes. Write this list somewhere that is accessible most times. Then when you are waiting for a client to turn up, or for the internet to process something; look at the list. Tick off 1 or 2 items. This habit will make you way more productive, and use your time diligently.
Go for a walk
People who exercise regularly experience better brain function, reduced mental health burden, and reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Sixteen weeks of regular exercise is as effective as antidepressant medication in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.
The positive effects of exercise impacts the brain and are likely the result of a combination of:
- Exercise sparks the recovery process and leaves our bodies and minds stronger and more resilient to future stress.
- Improves sleep quality
- Brain Plasticity allows learning and memory retention.
- Encourages social engagement.
- Exercise promotes neural health and survival.
- Builds muscle mass and prevents muscle loss with ageing (sarcopenia)
- Improves heart health and reduces risk of vascular disease.
- Reduces the risk and severity of cognitive decline and dementia.
Know Your Peaks and troughs
At what time of day are you the most focused? Use this time for the task that require your total concentration and ability.
At what time of the day or week are you most creative? Use this time to work on your content and marketing efforts.
When are you the most scatter-brained? Use this time for the most mundane, easy to accomplish tasks on your to do list.
Knowing your typical peaks and troughs throughout the day will help you to manage your time better. Flow is a psychological state that you find yourself doing something you love, and time flies past quickly.
When you’re in state of flow you:
- Intensely and completely focus on the present moment and the task at hand
- Forget about yourself, others, and the world around you
- Feel a complete sense of control or mastery over the situation or activity
- Lose all sense of time
- Complete the task because the task itself is intrinsically rewarding.
Plan your weekly schedule so you fit your own biorhythms and produce better quality work that you can feel good about.
Write it Down
Carrying everything around with you in your head is a sure fire way to end up overwhelmed. Write down your thoughts, reminders, and ideas throughout the day. I use the notes section on my phone. Having things out of your head and committed somewhere you can reach can help to quiet the chaos in your head. Often this process also allows you to see it for what it is, and to realise that it’s not as monstrous as it seemed when it was in your head. Look back on the list at the end of the day and distribute the items to their proper destination, such as to your to-do list, or your reminder app, or a specific project file.
We are in a small business, and we get to call the shots. Yay! That makes me very happy. If it scares the life out of you, perhaps being an employee is a better option for you? Maybe? Maybe not. That’s a topic for another post.
Be here, and enjoy the moment. Business overwhelm comes when you stress about what could be. Only be concerned about what you can control. Accept that contracts end, staff will turnover happens from time to time and there is always something new to learn. Stay positive and focus your energy on what YOU can influence.
Business overwhelm can be really hard to avoid and tends to sneak up on us. These tips will help you to build habits that prevent and reduce it for better mental health and improved productivity. Also, breathing is important – YES we do it automatically, yet when we pay attention it calms us. So as the saying goes…Don’t forget to breathe! Simply closing your eyes and taking a deep breath can work wonders.
Please leave a comment below and share which one of these tips you find most useful. Alternatively contact Merinda