Seven steps to beat the overwhelm

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I know that many business owners in my community suffer from overwhelm - and it is something that I am certainly not immune to either. 

So what can we do when it feels as though we have an impossible number of things to do - and we don't know where to start or what to focus on?

It is a horrible and uncomfortable feeling - and can often paralyse us meaning we achieve very little.

Today I'm sharing what works for me in the hope it might help you beat the overwhelm and refocus too.

Step 1: Come back to your vision

Often when we feel overwhelmed it's because we have lost sight of what we are actually trying to achieve. Everything feels urgent and important - when it is really not the case. 

What are you actually trying to achieve? What is the big picture vision for you?

Once you get to the "why" of what you are doing, you will very quickly realise that many of the things that once seemed important - or have found their way onto your "to do list" - actually don't matter in the greater scheme of things.

So eliminate these!

Step 2: Figure out your goals 

The next step, once you are clear on your big picture vision, is to write down your short term goals (3 months is a good time). These are what you need to achieve to move you closer to your vision. Your goals should be "SMART" - i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. Because you can't achieve your vision if you don't have clearly defined steps to get there. 

I generally have one main goal, and one or two smaller goals. I have found that focusing on shorter term goals (for the next 3 or 6 months) helps me to keep the momentum and focus. I have also found that I can have WAY too big expectations about what I can achieve in a short amount of time. I'm not a very patient person and want it all "now!"... just like that saying:

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.
— Bill Gates

Step 3: Write down your strategies

This step is all about getting to the nitty gritty and working on the HOW: the strategies you will deploy to move you closer to your vision and help you meet your goals. 

We can't miss this part - it is crucial. We might know where we want to be, but we haven't figured out how we are going to get there. That's when the wheels start spinning and everything feels important, but we aren't being strategic. 

I've found that constantly reminding myself of my vision, goals and the strategies helps me to prioritise and eliminate the many ideas, tasks and thoughts in my head. Doing this also helps me to beat the overwhelm because I can see and refocus on the actionable steps needed right NOW.

Step 4: Write down your "MITs" each day

I learnt this one from powerhouse couple Melissa Ambrosini and Nick Broadhurst. At the start of each day I write down my "MITs" or "Most Important Tasks". These should help you meet your goals. If they are not related to your goals and vision, question if they really matter, and if they don't, eliminate them. 

I keep my MITs next to me throughout the day and come back to them constantly to keep me on track. I try to keep this list to about one to three main tasks that really matter for the day - depending on how big each one is. Sometimes I number these, to help order which ones I need to focus on and prioritise first. This also the idea of "eating the frog first": doing the hardest, biggest thing first each day. 

In the past, I clung to the idea that the busier I was, the more "successful" I must be. Now, my goal is to only do the tasks that really truly bring me closer to my vision and goals. That means letting go of time-filling or 'should' activities.

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
— Dwight Eisenhower

What do I mean by "time-filling activities"? This might be responding to other people's requests, spending a long time in our inbox, tweaking our website, posting to social media daily because we feel like we should (without a real strategy behind it)... Basically, the things that fill our time and make us feel like we are being productive, when they aren't really moving us closer to our goals. 

Step 5: Claim a Monthly Focus

The other trap that can see us falling into overwhelm is trying to do everything at once. We simply cannot (as much as I wish we could!).

Try declaring each month a focus month for ONE thing in your business. With my private mentoring clients, I create monthly themes for them to focus on and implement (i.e. "PR month", "event month".) I take this monthly focus approach with my membership community too, releasing training on ONE topic each month to encourage my members to go deep, take action and start getting results before moving onto the next topic. 

So try to focus on ONE part of your business each month. It is so powerful, because it frees us from distraction and trying to dabble in multiple projects, which only breeds overwhelm.

Step 6: Do the work

If you are still feeling overwhelmed, look at your behaviour. Are you researching, Googling, looking at others to try find the answer? STOP! Tune into yourself and just start. DO. THE. WORK.

I know that often, the tasks I need to do don't actually take nearly as long as what I thought. But I can get stuck in the track of trying to Google the best way to do it, or look at what others have done, and waste a lot of time. 

So close those tabs and get to work! Done is better than waiting for perfect. There is NEVER a perfect solution, a perfect time, a perfect anything. You are not going to achieve your vision if you are aiming for "perfect".

Step 7: If all else fails, step away

I know it sounds counterintuitive - I really do! But when we are staring at our work, our laptop, or our phone, it is very hard to get perspective on what matters. If I have tried all of the steps above, I have found a fail-proof way to beat the overwhelm is by going on a walk. By the time I get back to work, I feel clearer and generally have the answers I was struggling to find. Everything seems less overwhelming.

Your trick to refocus might be a gym session, your hobby, reading, cooking, listening to a crime podcast, meditating... Whatever it is, give yourself that break to refresh. 

I would love to hear what works for you to beat the overwhelm? Let me know in a comment below.

P.S. Have you checked out my Instagram Freebies?!