Overwhelm can cripple your momentum in business. These are some of my best tools for managing overwhelm and creating a plan to move you forward in a focussed and low stress way.
In this Episode:
03.33: How to get started if you feel you are nearly burned out
06.00: Ways to reduce your to-do-list
09.55: What tasks to focus on in your business
12.31: How and what to outsource both in and out of your business
16.52: Tips on how to practice self care
20.53: How to make a time plan
21.41: The keys to changing your mindset around everything you have to do
Have you ever reached that point of overwhelm in your business? Where you feel like something is going to give? I can totally relate because it happens to me too. Look, I love my business and I’m sure you do too, but life is too short to feel stressed and overwhelmed all the time. Now, I’m not going to pretend I have this all figured out, but I do want to share with you today, some tools that I use and recommend to my clients for staying on top of the crazy to-do list in business.
This episode is jam-packed full of practical actions that are easy to implement to reduce your stress load. So I am sure there will be some strategies in here that will work for you too. Make sure you stick around, and I hope you get something out of today.
Before I get started on today’s episode, I just wanted to give a shout-out to Annie at Mumma Love for her review that she left on this podcast. Mumma Love is a beautiful and inspiring blog about motherhood, loss, and hope. She also has a beautiful shop online so make sure you check it out. Anyway, her review says: “the podcast is real, relatable, and offers great actionable tips.” Thank you so much to Mumma Love and to everyone who’s left me a review so far; I honestly feel so humbled by all the support that this podcast has got. And make sure if you do leave me a review that you leave me your business name because I will be reading out some at the start of each episode.
Okay, so getting into today’s episode: something that I know I struggle with constantly, and I know that so many entrepreneurs do too, is how to manage the overwhelm. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but there are just so many things to be done all the time, right? So today, let’s chat about managing the overwhelm.
As I shared in the intro, I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but I do have tools that I personally use, and that I share with my clients that I believe really help. I’m also gonna share with you guys, an epic freebie. Which is called the Time Creator Workbook. I’ll be putting it in the show notes for today’s episode, so you can access that at clarewood.com.au/podcast/episode6 and just remember when you’re typing in Clare, that Clare has no “I” in it. So, the freebie has heaps of new hacks for adding into your workweek, and I’ll chat to you guys about it later in the episode. Now let’s get into the strategy for getting out of overwhelm.
If you are at the point in your business of nearly being burnt out, this step is super important for you. Step one is to stop. Now, this might seem really counter-intuitive, especially if you’re feeling really snowed, and like you’ve got a lot on your plate. But quite often, what I find is that when you’re peddling and peddling and peddling, you can’t actually see the wood from the trees. So what you need to do is just to stop. To do this, basically what you need to do is clear a whole day out of your calendar. And trust me, I’ve done this with clients of mine before, and they look at me like I’m crazy, but clear a whole day. If you have kids, make sure that it’s a day that your kids aren’t in your care so that you’ve got a whole day to yourself and actually just unwind, like do something that you love, I don’t know, go out for a coffee, run a bath. Just take some time just to realize that if you step away from everything, things are gonna be fine. No one’s gonna die, unless you’re a surgeon, but do you know what, even if you’re listening and you are a surgeon, I’m sure somebody could step in for you for one day, because if you’re at that point of exhaustion, for now, you just need to take care of you.
Once you’ve had a few hours of calm, sit down and come back to your vision. Now this is super important, because what I want you to do is to remember where it is that you ultimately want to take your business. Why is it so important to you? Because again what happens, is so often we get caught up in being busy that we forget where it is that we’re heading. And look, I am so guilty of this myself, sometimes I take on way more clients than I should, and when you step away, and sit back and think about where it is you want to head, sometimes you can have some real “aha” moments of clarity.
So once you remember your ultimate vision for your business, when you start to remember your next steps, you can sometimes realize where you’re spending energy on things that aren’t related to that end goal. Now the next step that I want you to do, again this is on this day out of your business. If you weren’t quite at burnout point, even just take half a day out of business, and step back and go through this planning process. But, in this planning session, dump out everything that you have to do. So literally go through all of your emails, actions, anything in your head, get it all down. So, if you’re a paper person, write it out on paper, I personally have terrible handwriting so, you know, I’d write it in Word document. But you know these days, I’m using a planning tool, I’m using Asana so you know, quite often I sit down and I sit in front of Asana and I type out everything I have to do, everyone I have to contact, every email I have to respond to, so I suggest you do this on a regular basis; sit down, and just dump it all out. And quite often, it’s actually quite cathartic, having it all in one place.
Then once it’s all there, have a look at your list and remember in that vision that we just went back to, that end goal that you’re facing, how much of what is on your list, is actually aligned to your vision? Because a lot of the time what I find is that our busy-ness is actually not related to where we ultimately want to be. So have a look at your list, what can you get rid of?
And quite often with clients of mine, I’ll actually encourage them to stop doing things that they just don’t enjoy. Or if they’re not aligned to where they want to head, and sometimes, you might be thinking, well hang on, that’s where I’m getting my income from, if that’s a particular component of my revenue that’s related to something that I hate, but hey, it pays the bills. And I know it can feel terrifying to let go of paying work, but from my experience, nine out of ten times when people get rid of things that they hate doing in their business, what happens is that they actually attract more of the right kind of work, and opportunities and end up making as much as they would have made from those other things, if not more.
So look at your list, and think, what do you hate doing? What on that list of things, do you not like doing? Can you get rid of it all together? Or, can you hand it to someone else? And a bit later on, we’re going to talk about out-sourcing, so hang in there if it’s not something you can cull totally. When you’re looking through this list, and like I said, trying to get rid of things off the list, it helps to do it with someone else, like a coach, a business mentor, or a friend, because quite often someone from the outside can see things more clearly and help get rid of non essential items. And I definitely know as a coach this is one of the great benefits that I find for my clients; I’m not emotionally attached to things in their business like quite often business owners are, so I can say hey, I just really don’t think that’s essential. So, try doing this exercise with someone who is outside your business.
All of this process that we’re talking about here, it may seem a bit of a luxury, but I’m telling you, you have to work on your business to be able to grow your business. So sometimes stepping back and doing this strategic work is imperative, rather than just working, working, working and thinking that that’s gonna press you further. So when you’re looking at this list, and you’re thinking, but there’s so much stuff on my list, and it’s all so important, how do I know where to spend my time? This is how I suggest you prioritize your time:
Number one: current clients or customers if you’re a product-based business. These should always be at the top of your list, because these are the people who are paying you. And ultimately, these are the people that that can do a big chunk of your marketing for you. People who refer you on and say wonderful things about you will ensure that your business continues to grow.
Secondly, after looking after current customers, is looking for potential customers. If someone’s taken the time to reach to you for an inquiry, don’t leave them hanging. Sometimes you have to because I think that prioritizing your current clients is more important. The second thing is that when somebody is proactively contacting you with an inquiry to do with your services or product, then they should be the second people that you spend your time contacting. The next thing is finding new clients. So this is actually the process of marketing, and marketing is a whole other episode, so we won’t go into it now. That should definitely be something that should be the next priority; going out there and actually proactively seeking new people that wanna buy your product or service. And then your lowest priority should be everything else. Now this is things like admin, accounts, things that you need to do to stay organized, and compliant, and its really funny because I find sometimes things that can be in this category can feel really urgent, and quite often, end up taking precedence because they feel urgent, but perhaps they’re not as important as serving your current clients, potential clients, and looking for new clients; So just a different way of looking at things.
Okay, so we’ve gone through the list, we’ve identified how to prioritize it, but perhaps you’re sitting here and thinking, I’ve done that exercise, and everything is still super important.. There’s nothing I can get rid of on my list. Now this is where we talk about outsourcing. Now when it comes to outsourcing, I believe there are two different ways you can outsource; the first one is in your business and we’ll talk about that a little bit further. But the second one that people often forget about is in your life, in your personal life outside of business.
Now my godsend in life and in business is our cleaner. He comes twice a week. That might seem a bit luxurious, and I have to admit, I do feel very blessed to have that. However, I can’t imagine doing what I’m doing without that support. So our cleaner comes twice a week like I mentioned, and he does pretty much the bulk of cleaning around our house. It doesn’t mean that I don’t do anything because I’ve got two young children; I’ve got a one year old and a four year old, so of course I’ve still got meals to prepare and clean up after, packing bags, child care, cleaning up all of the messes around the house and everything, but I definitely think having external support and for me, cleaning is where its at.
Perhaps for you it might be someone to help out with childcare if you have children, it might be someone to help out with your groceries, I don’t know, its whatever for you feels like a massive drag or drain on your time, can you find someone to help you in your personal life? For me, my time is so precious and for you guys it’s the same. So know that it’s worth the investment. Coming back to getting support in your business, I am sure you can think of a multitude of ways that you’d love to get support in your business, and you don’t need to do it all at once. I think that you can just start somewhere; starting anywhere is better than doing nothing. I personally outsource where ever it’s possible to allow me to focus on what I do best which is serving my clients.
So translate this back to your business; what is your special skill? What is the skillset that you ultimately get paid for? And then when you look at it with that kind of lens, what is it that you could give to someone else to outsource? If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to outsourcing or building a team, you can check out my recent podcasting episode which is called Building Your Dream Team, or you can download the freebie that I mentioned earlier which is the Time Creator workbook, which has some awesome hacks for outsourcing and hence getting more hours back into your workday.
If you’re listening to all of this and thinking, uh Clare, this is all well and good but I can’t actually afford any help, what I want you to do is figure out why? Do you need to tweak your business model? Or perhaps you’re just in the early stages of your business. Or perhaps you’re just really investing back into your business. So I challenge you to get creative. How can you can some money coming in in the interim?
I actually know a quite successful business owner, and she was making good money in her business, but she actually used to drive Uber to help fund some of the outsourcing in her business and getting support in her personal life. So think of different ways that you can get income coming in. And perhaps think of maybe, do you need to tweak your business model? Can you add an additional service? Or is it that your business model maybe isn’t profitable enough? So its coming back to grassroots and revisiting the structure overall.
Outsourcing is super important, because how you are prioritizing your time can have a massive impact on how you feel and what you wanna do is have happy, positive juices flowing, because this will help keep you cool, calm, and help you focus on your big dreams.
Now, next on our “Getting out of the overwhelm journey,” is the old buzz phrase, “self care.” This is actually super important, I know it sounds so cliché, but please stick with me, because there are these things in our brains called neurochemicals and the best description I’ve found is that they’re feel-good chemicals and they’re triggered in your brain as a reward it thinks is good for its survival.
So what I wanna do is talk about these happy chemicals – now this has all come from Jim Quick’s “Quick Brain Podcast,” episode 84, and these are the happy chemicals that make you feel good. And when you feel good, you have a much higher ability to cope, to get back on track, and then following along on this, we can get into some practical ways to manage your time.
Okay, happy chemical number one: endorphins. I’m sure you guys have all heard of this; these are the feel-good, natural drugs. These are the feel-good things that make you feel happy. To get yourself a cheeky hit of endorphins, do a workout, or another great way to have some endorphins flowing is to have a great laugh. The next one, and you’ll have to forgive me, I might even be pronouncing this wrong but I’ll give it a try anyway: oxytocin. So, oxytocin is about trust and belonging, it’s the bonding chemical. For an oxytocin hit, this is about trust and physical touch. So can you go and get a massage, if you’ve got a partner, or a kid, or a dog, can you give them a pat. A pat, maybe not a partner. Give your partner a cuddle.
Oxytocin is another really, really great natural feel-good drug. The next one is serotonin. So I see this as the don’t-worry-be-happy one, and the best way to get some serotonin is again through exercise, through eating a happy diet, through a small amount of natural sunlight helps trigger this one.
And, last thing’s dopamine. So this is all about motivation, and a great way to trigger some dopamine is by actually setting yourself some small achieveable goals and then giving yourself a good pat on the back when you achieve them. So, sleep, music and meditation are also amazing ways to help with dopamine levels. So, we’ve gone through and given some quick ways to kind of feel good, but what I want you to do now, is map out what your personal self-care go-to’s are. So for me, I love, there’s this reflexology place near me and I love getting a food rub with a friend. I also love going to the gym, maybe running a bath and lighting some candles. Another favourite of mine is just watching some trashy tv. I just love to switch off and watch some crap that doesn’t make you think too much. But your self-care preferences might vary. So I want you to have a think about five ways you can look after yourself; five self-care ways, and schedule them in without feeling an ounce of guilt, because again, when we get busy, when we get overwhelmed and busy, our self-care tends to be one of the things that slides.
So now that we’ve gone through, we’ve culled our to-do list hopefully, or we’ve at least prioritized it, we’ve worked out how to outsource some of those tasks, we’ve identified what our self-care needs are, next what we wanna do is make a plan. So this is about building in your self-care, about mapping out your week, so that you don’t end up working all the time. So I’ve actually got a time plan template, you can download it in the show notes for today’s episode which is clarewood.com.au/podcast/episode6 and its in the Time Creator workbook. So this time plan actually has your whole week, and you can actually go out and map out how you’re gonna spend your week to make sure that you’ve got enough time to do the things that you’ve got to do but also that you’ve got some time for you.
Now the last thing that I wanna talk about – I’m gonna say last but not least – because when it comes to overwhelm, one thing that you can do, in some ways it’s the easiest, but its also actually the hardest, is changing your mindset around it. So, have an attitude of gratitude for where you are. So no matter what is going on, I can guarantee you can always find something good. So focus everyday on a few things that you have to be grateful for. So for example, if you’re feeling super overwhelmed because you’re so busy, think – I am so blessed to have so much work, I’m so blessed to have so many clients, I’m so blessed to have so many customers. If you’re not busy, how about you think about it on the flipside; I’m so blessed to be able to have this space to be able to strategize and be able to spend some time on uplevelling my business. I’m so glad and grateful that even though I’m not super busy in my business at the moment, that I still have a roof over my head and food in my tummy, because seventy-five percent of the people in the world don’t have those basic things that we take for granted. So change your mindset, think about all of the things that you do have to be grateful for. Honestly, the more that you focus on what you do have, the more that you attract amazing things into your life.
The next thing I would say on mindset, and this is a big one for me – because I used to look at my overflowing inbox, all the DM’s on insta, all of the things that I would have to do, and I would start to feel a bit anxious, and so what I would do, is I’d just do what I can. And this is what I’d say to you guys as well, is you can’t do everything all the time, so sometimes it might take you a little longer to get back to people. And some days I don’t have the chance to do any engaging on social media, but you just have to do what you can. You can only do so much so be kind to yourself, do what you can, when you can, and its funny when you change your attitude around it and you change your mindset around it that things that seem overwhelming, you suddenly realize, you know what, if I don’t get to engage on social media for a day, the world’s not gonna fall over. So just do what you can, and come back to that last step as well, have that attitude of gratitude about it.
Now one last thing I want to say before we wrap up today, is if the challenge feels to you like it might be bigger than overwhelm, and perhaps its moving into the place of extended stress and anxiety, please go and seek some professional help from a councillor or a psychologist.
So today’s episode has had a lot in it, so I want to sum up today’s episode. So we’ve covered quite a lot in today’s episode. So if you’re in a state of real overwhelm, step one: take some time out, just to chill, just to relax and get yourself to a state of calm. Then, work out the vision: where are you heading in your business? Next, put everything together that you currently have on a big to-do list on into a system. Then, get rid of what’s not aligned to your vision, outsource, or delegate things that aren’t on your list, work out a plan for self-care and then how you can regularly stick to it, and the last thing, do some work on your mindset, practice gratitude and give yourself a break, just do what you can and when you can.
Now, I mentioned earlier in the episode, about a freebie that I have, the Time Creator workshop, now I want to share a few more details about it; now what’s included in the Time Creator workbook, is a checklist for outsourcing both in and out of your business, a time planner to help you map out your perfect week, and a tool for identifying and eliminating your time zappers. So if you wanna download it, make sure you jump on the show notes, check it out, its packed with goodness, and I guess I just wanted to say, thank you so much for sticking around today, I’m honestly so grateful to you guys for joining me, I hope that you got some great tools to manage the overwhelm moving forward, and just remember, life’s too short, so make sure that you have some fun along the way! I hope that you have a fabulous week and I’ll catch you next time!