Following on from Overwhelm Techniques to Move Forward (Part 1) we were looking at some of the techniques you can use to move forward; get past those feelings of overwhelm and be in a stronger position to carry on.
Here are some more techniques that I think you’ll find useful if that dreaded sense of panic starts to hang over your head.
Leverage your time: We only have a certain amount of time each day and that will differ for those that don’t need the regulatory 8 hours’ sleep (which I do need!) but using that time effectively and efficiently (love those two words together) will enable you to blast through your tasks. Moving those tasks into your calendar (rather than leaving on your to-do-list) will show you when they practically can be completed. Because you’ve chunked the tasks you can set your timer to complete them – giving you focussed time.
Another way of using your time better is to identify where you are wasting time or not enjoying that particular job. For example; delivering work which doesn’t earn you much; working 1:1 when you can work 1:many and earn more buck for your time or working with clients that drain you and are not ‘a joy’ to work with.
Focus vs multitasking: Women are good at multi-tasking that’s why they can get more stuff done at once. A common misconception – or so they say! I like to think I can achieve more; such as taking things upstairs when I’m going there. Picking up lots of things and going room to room dropping things off. I believe that works for me (domestically). However, in business I do believe focus is better. Being distracted by the ping of social media or emails dropping into your inbox or even the phone ringing interrupts and therefore stops the flow of work. Getting in the zone was pointless as you can be pulled from it in an instance. Returning is somewhat harder and therefore the task takes longer.
Using those identified chunks, setting the timer and working through them will give you such a sense of achievement – especially if you’ve not been disturbed! So switch off your emails and social media channels, get the answering service to take your calls, set the timer and work in complete focus. Some like music; I personally don’t so silence it is for me – what works best for you?
Stop doing list: As we look at our brain-dump there may be things that are causing us concern, add to our overwhelm or just make us pure crazy. Are there things you can put on your ‘stop doing’ list? Can we take them off our list and on to someone else’s? Or rid yourself of that task/worry altogether? It’s an empowering activity to undertake – what can you stop doing that is not serving you or puts you in a bad place?
Define your role: What is your role in the business (or the household if that’s your area of overwhelm)? Can you make changes for the benefit of you (and probably everyone else – no one likes to be around someone that is struggling, overwhelmed, not focussed and generally not happy!)? For a business owner can you re-define your working hours?
When is the best time for you to work – is it before the children get up or after they’ve gone to bed. If you’re a morning person getting up at 5 and doing a couple of really focussed hours’ work will leave you feeling energised and ready for the rest of the day. If, like me, you prefer to work until the wee small hours and get a lie in works for you (and those around you) you will be more productive and of course, a much happier person to be around.
Once you’ve identified your most productive time get those ‘not liked’ jobs done first. Have we all read the book ‘Eat That Frog’? which is about doing the tough stuff first. Once that’s done you will be feeling great and ready to tackle the next thing on the list. Setting certain hours for work and hours for ‘family’ or ‘downtime’ will help you to also identify what work you cannot complete (there are not enough hours) or you just don’t want to spend your time doing. It’s very refreshing when you can turn down work (see last point if you’d rather not turn it down completely; but not do it either!).
Email: Our email demands our attention at all times of the day or night. Be it clients, people selling, Newsletters or just general news and updates. It’s hard to completely remove or decrease the flow. There are things you can do – such as setting up rules so emails are filed as soon as they come near your inbox (good for Newsletters; although you don’t know they’ve arrived until you see the folder with 250 unread emails! Oops!) That then brings up the ‘unsubscribe’ time. You could forward certain emails to other colleagues ‘delegate’ is fabulous if you have the option or can do it! I know so many people that struggle with delegating emails (never mind work) but it is a necessary evil for your sanity as well as growing your business.
There’s a school of thought that you should only handle emails once – action, delegate or delete. Bit tough in my mind but would certainly reduce your inbox quickly. I tried filing them – ACTION, READ, WAITING – but the next day my inbox was full again and I didn’t go back to do the actions, read the emails or check to see if responses had been received for the waiting ones! Sometimes you have to try these things to see what works for you. Some people read their emails twice a day – allowing focus for the rest of the day. Just be sure to tell everyone with an automatic response giving other options of contacting you for urgent action (such as text or mobile number).
Getting help: My last helpful way to reduce overwhelm is to get help! Accept we can’t do it all alone and that there are people out there that can help. If you are looking to grow this is an early lesson to learn – it is essential you get help to be able to grow your business. Help comes in a variety of guises; be it a business coach/mentor to help you on your journey; a call answering service to give you some unbroken time, a friend/colleague to offload to and to give you a sounding board; or growing your team with employees/contractors to take on those tasks/clients that you no longer want to.
Your first helper might be an accountant to help you with the finances, or an admin person to do those pesky tasks such as chasing proposals, making appointments, getting the money in or someone who does what you do so you can take on more clients doing what your business does best.
So my advice is recognise it, seek help and commit to some techniques to help you through the difficult times.
Employing staff is a whole new ball game with its own set of rules. Working with a VA is an option that a great many business people are turning to. Check out my book on How to Hire a Virtual Assistant. Available on Amazon by clicking here
Connect with Michelle on other platforms too: Learn how you can work with Virtual Hand; how your business can grow and how you can communicate better with your audience.