5 Tips That Will Help You Manage Overwhelm

Managing Overwhelm

A friend of mine was busy establishing her business and trying to keep all the moving parts in order. While getting started, she took on some additional consulting projects to bring in additional income.

Every night, she wrote to-do lists. She laid out her clothes for the next day. She did everything she could to keep her life in order. But all of the excitement of her projects kept her awake at night and overwhelmed during the day. Ideas and thoughts of more things that needed to get done kept popping into her head. One morning, frazzled and late for a meeting, she grabbed a can to spray her hair into place. It smelled like baby powder. Yep, she was so overwhelmed that she had accidentally sprayed deodorant in her hair.

While hardly a fatal error, it drives home the point that as an entrepreneur, you consume lots of information, learn new things, start new projects and don’t want to feel like you’re ever missing out. I have found this to be a recipe for disaster if not managed and balanced with a little decompression. It’s a huge fallacy that if you are not working you’re not being productive. Some of my best ideas have come when I am relaxed. And the truth is, we’re much more focused and energized when we give ourselves time to rest and rejuvenate.

Here’s the deal: If you’re always “on” – always producing, thinking, analyzing and doing, you’re going to burn out. You’re going to feel tired, frustrated, scattered and maybe even depressed. The secret to success as an entrepreneur is to balance your tremendous drive, creativity and “doing-ness” with some unplugged time. Hey, I didn’t say it was going to be easy, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to maximize your potential and really thrive.

Here are five steps to manage overwhelm in your life:

  1.  Do a Brain Dump – this is one of my favorite tools from David Allen, who wrote the book “Getting Things Done.” Either at the end of your work day or before you go to bed at night, make a list of everything you have to do – urgent, non-urgent, long-term projects etc. The important thing is to get it out of your head. It releases your brain from over-thinking everything and staying frozen in panic mode. It also sets you up to work productively the next day. Select the three most important things on the list (not the most urgent, but the three things that will make you money and propel you forward) and focus on these first the next day.
  2.  Go on a Low Information Diet – turn off the television. Let go of subscriptions to magazines that you never read and unsubscribe to any email lists that aren’t absolutely necessary. Don’t jump on social media after 8PM. It’s really important to be vigilant and get rid of anything that doesn’t give you energy or make you feel great.
  3. Use A Timer – if you have a bunch of things on your to-do list, set a timer for 60 minutes and challenge yourself to do as many things as possible in just one hour. Turn off the phone, close Facebook and don’t allow any distractions for the full amount of time. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in such a short period of time.
  4.  Get Out Of Your Head and Move Your Body – this one is an absolute must. Do it daily. It doesn’t matter what you do – take a yoga class or a long walk, watch a silly movie, laugh, dance, sing, meditate – as long as it gets you out of your head and into your body. Get out of thinking mode and into something that you love to do and that makes you happy.
  5. Stop Doing Everything By Yourself – another characteristic of the entrepreneur is that we try to do it all on our own. I like to say that you can have it all, but you just can’t do it all yourself. It’s important to make a list of everything you’re doing and delegate as much as possible that’s not your “genius” work. In other words, you should only be doing those things associated with making money, such as working with clients and marketing. If you’re making $200/hr., it’s worth it to pay someone $20/hr to do some administrative work so that you can work with more clients.

 Prioritize your objectives and the things you need to go to get your work done. Take a daily mental break and cut out the distractions and other things that clutter your mind. Move and breathe. And hire some help. Not only will you have more energy, but you’ll find that you actually accomplish more in less time.



  1. Kimberly Grass says

    Thanks for the great tips, Liz. It is easy to get overwhelmed by our never ending to do lists.

Speak Your Mind