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Overwhelm. It’s a feeling I have known well, overwhelm has crept up and slapped me on the head multiple times, and why wouldn’t it? I am a busy lady. I am a mum, I run two businesses, I maintain a property, own two horses, and well, there is never a dull moment here that’s for sure!

Overwhelm loves that kind of thing, a non-stop life with a person that is not always one to sit down and do nothing, even when they should!

My ‘success toolkit’ includes a heap of things to deal with overwhelm, and in fact, it’s one of the ways I turned a small hobby business into a successful award winning business. That I am happy with, and that’s the kicker, and the important thing. The only person that I have to answer to as to whether my business is a success is me. Same goes for you. As far as determining whether your business is a success, you get to decided what your version of success is. Anyone that tells you otherwise is not on your side.

There’s no doubt many different ways to get to where I got, and I am not going to tell you why the other ways are wrong or the people telling you them are deceiving you, because they aren’t. They are simply showing a different point of view, and more importantly, you are a grown up, you can take in all the information you read and decide for yourself what sits right for you. In fact, like business owners do, it’s probably a good idea gather all the information you get from everywhere and sort through and pick out the good parts for you.

Tip # 1. Be organised.

One of the ways to deal with overwhelm is to be really organised. Easier said than done, right? Analytical brained people can find ways to get organised without needing to remove a vital organ. It’s the creatives that can struggle a bit more with that. I myself am a highly creative person and can be messy at times, but these days, it’s organised ‘mess’, I know where everything is and I personally don’t need a pristine clear desk to work effectively. A clear space yes, a place for everything yes, everything in it’s place, most of the time… Well I never said I was perfect. All I promised you was straight talk, the truth, and no jargon! But you get the point. If you are feeling like everything around you is in chaos, that certainly wont be helping you feel less overwhelmed.

Anyway back to getting organised. You know those ideas you have swirling around in your head? And the reminders to pick something up from here, go to there, follow that up, order these? They are all taking up brain space. Do they creep up on you, particularly at night? I can’t tell you how many people tell me that they can’t switch off at night and stop thinking about work. But even if you can switch off at night, in your day, those gazillion things running around in your head are draining you of productivity. One way to deal with that is to write or record everything that is zooming around in your head.

Some people like good old fashioned note pads and pen, and find that if they buy a nice notepad, they will look after it and ‘use’ it. Some people like project/task management tools like the ones Outlook provides or apps and programs like Wrike offer, they can be handy as you can forward emails to them and allocate time to deal with them. However you do it is something you need to try for yourself, but the main thing is getting it all out of your brain space and ‘noted down’. And frankly, what’s the point of 10 lists, if you need to have a list of all your lists so you can go to the right list to see your list. Have one list. Colour code it if you need to, dot point it, number it, there are more than one way to skin the proverbial cat here, try a few ways and find what suits you.

Learn to be ok with the fact that a list does not mean you have to do everything on that list RIGHT NOW. Setting date goals might help you if you feel time pressure. Being the creative I am, I colour code my list to help me prioritise it.

Tip # 2. Create some systems.
You might find it really valuable to think about all the things you do repetitively, and consider whether you can streamline those things. Do you find yourself responding to ‘where is my order’ enquiries if you are in online retail, or ‘how much do you charge for xyz’ kind of questions? Consider having that information available to your customers automatically, or at the very least, having a pre-typed response so you don’t have to type it out again and again. Programs like Texter (for Windows) or TextExpander (for Mac) are great for this.

It’s a good idea to document any systems in your business, this helps give you clarity and also helps you see ‘sticking points’ in your processes so you can start to streamline things (for example, if you spend a lot of time answering the same question, perhaps make that information more readily available on your website so people don’t even have to ask). Imagine if you sold your business tomorrow, do you have enough information to hand over to the new person to show them how to run the business? Don’t worry, I am not saying you need to sell your business, all I am saying is whatever you hold in your head and don’t have a process for is adding to your overwhelm.

Tip # 3. Ditch the negative stuff.
After you get organised and create some systems, then you need to deal with the worry and negative ‘stuff’ for want of a stronger word that may offend some readers! So many people get bogged down worrying about what other people think of them, or what others are doing, and taking things that people do personally. Rarely is it useful or productive to get all wound up about that kind of thing. In fact, if everyone just did what they do best and what they felt passionate about, then with some motivation and hard work, they too can find their version of success. The more negative stuff you read into, the more that drains away the good part of you. It’s a simple fact of life, business or not. There is no place for negativity, and until you work that out for yourself, you are going to find yourself bogged down with it big time. You can have all the business tools and systems you like, and you might even start to make some money, but without shaking the negativity, you aren’t going to be happy.

Oh, now that leads me to this, if you weren’t looking to be happy with your life, I apologise for you having to read this far into this blog to hear this. Whilst I am absolutely sure that life is not ALL about rainbows and unicorns, I do believe that every single person on the planet has the intrinsic ability to be happy in themselves. So I don’t see any harm in looking for a little more ‘rainbows and unicorns’ in life. (You know that’s just a metaphor, right?). For me, it was once about seeing the good things in every situation, not the bad things, and exposing myself to less negativity and more positivity. That changed my life for the better, both personally and in business, and I encourage you to consider how much negativity you have going on in your life. Without breaking into a song that it seems every little girl on the planet likes to see lip synced on youtube these days, ‘let it go, let it go!’.

Tip # 4. Have a plan.
Have you got a business plan? Have you got goals set out with timeframes? Having goals is incredibly valuable for your own productivity. Its gives you something to reach for, something to work towards, and focus on. Write them down as though they just happened, eg “it’s November 2015 and I have just completed… etc etc” so you get a positive spin on it. There I go again, putting a positive spin on things, it’s a matter of choice and I choose to be a positive person. Come with me, you might enjoy the ride! Planning is an essential part of running a business and even more essential when you are feeling overwhelmed. Break your goals down into small steps, tiny steps even, so you can tick lots of things off your list and feel a sense of achievement as you go. (And as an aside, if you need help creating a business plan and setting goals, check this online workshop out, which does just that

Tip # 5. Unstuckify yourself.

Now I am usually a grammar nazi but I do like this ‘word’. You will find that you get stuck on certain things on your list. Is there a pattern? What kind of things are they? Can you get help with them, outsource them, or find a way to get unstuck?? I find when I get stuck, sitting down and thinking about why I keep getting stuck is the first step, there is almost always a pattern, and there is always a solution. I recently worked with a client on dealing with her overwhelm and with some prompting, she worked out the kind of things she got stuck on. It was to do with asking people for payment or anything money related. Our society has trained us to not talk openly about money, and for some people, this carries on and affects them in business, like it did for this wonderfully talented lady. We worked out a few solutions for how she could deal with those things, and she felt more able to deal with those things after that. The hardest part was actually recognising the pattern of where she was getting stuck.

I’m not offering you a switch to turn off your overwhelm overnight, (although that would be nice wouldn’t it?) I wont lie, it can be really hard work to make some changes to deal with your overwhelm, but I can say it’s totally worth the effort. Once you feel more on top of things you can then start to work through ways to be productive and make your business into just what you want it to be. It’s all very possible if you put your mind to it and follow your passion, because the truth is, if you aren’t passionate about what you do you may not really feel like putting the effort you need to into it. You are already great at what you do, now you just need to gather the tools you need to go and do it!

Dream Big!

If you are stuck on something, tell me about a roadblock you are facing and I will send you back some no-strings-attached ideas to help.

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