Yesterday I attended a meeting of the Tucson Coaches Alliance, a collaboration of life and business coaches in the Tucson Arizona area. The topic of the meeting was “Overcoming Entrepreneurial Overwhelm.” Wow – what a timely topic!
If any of you are anything like me, you probably spend a lot of very productive time in overwhelm mode. I actually find that I get a lot done when under pressure, have more energy when more energy is required, and like being busy. There are times, however, when the overwhelming tasks (that irrationally take on mythically important proportions) get me over the hump of being productively busy, and send me into a panicked state that is almost paralyzing. It is times like that when I become anxious, distracted, and my productivity decreases.
Recognizing when the line between being busy and being overwhelmed is close to being crossed is crucial in being able to overcome that overly-anxious feeling of being under pressure and crunched for time. In myself, I know it’s coming when I stop taking time to really listen to what people are saying to me. I find myself ruminating about the same things, being compulsively perfectionistic about things that don’t really matter, and losing focus of priorities and tasks that really ARE important. I dawdle over things that are insignificant, out of panic and fear at some of the bigger, scarier tasks that need to be tackled.
Some great suggestions that came out of the coaches collaboration, and from a free e-book offered at www.inspiredentrepreneurs.com:
1. Practice extreme self-care. This may mean taking time out to get a haircut, pedicure, or massage. It may mean taking some alone time to read a good book, and get out of your head.
2. Visualize the finished product or accomplishment, and then make a list of tasks in chronological order that can be accomplished in order to get where you need to be – when you need to be there. As a list maker myself, this is a great suggestion. And by chronologically listing the events, tasks, and priorities that have the most leverage (have the biggest impact on the finished project) this keeps me from being distracted by details, until all the big stuff is done.
3. Vacation – it’s mandatory!
4. Know your Overwhelm Set-Point. This will differ for everyone, of course. We all have different thresholds of tolerance for anxiety and overwhelm. Know yours, and recognize when you’re not just busy – you’re overwhelmed.
5. Ask for help, and delegate responsibilities that others can do – even if there’s no way on earth they can ever do them as well as you can.
6. Do what you absolutely must, and UN-do what you can’t, don’t want to, or isn’t an absolute necessity. (You might need to say no to some things you don’t want to.)
7. Ask yourself – is it that you truly don’t have enough time, or aren’t wisely using the time you have? (This is a biggie for me. Better Time Management Skills can un-whelm a good meaning person.)
8. Acknowledge all the things you DO get done. If you don’t cross out those must-dos on your to-dos list, then add all the things you did that were never on the list in the first place. Give yourself some credit!
9. Get Involved and Get Outside Yourself! Be a community member, good friend, and active part of the world outside of your office, your cubicle, or your house.
10. Search for wisdom. Talk to people whom you admire, who are good at managing stress, and ask them for suggestions. What do they do? They may have a great suggestion that is the golden ticket that will help you avoid the overwhelming feelings of obligation and time that too often disrupt our flow and stop our creative processes.