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Listing when you’re overwhelmed – get specific!

I’ve already talked about the top 3 things I do to reduce my overwhelm before it starts (see that here).

I already mentioned in the Outsourcing section about making a list of all the things you have to do and starring what you hate so you can make a plan to outsource it. But what if you (cross your heart, hope to die) genuinely can’t outsource anything on your list, and you’re still feeling that shortness of breath and sting of tears threatening to spill out your eyeballs?

This is the process I go through when I’m getting to this point. First, I make a list of all the stuff I have to do. If the list is really long (and let’s face it, if you’re feeling overwhelmed the list is probably pretty long), go through everything on the list and assign it a priority from 1 to 4.

1’s – HAVE to get done today. You have a deadline, you have a meeting the next day and you need to do THIS THING to be prepared for it, your kid has a dance recital. If you don’t do this thing, it’s going to cause significant trouble or disappointment. Note: not many of your To Do’s are 1’s.

2’s – Need to be done in the next couple days, again because you have a meeting coming up, or you promised something to a client by a certain day so they can meet their own deadlines, or you just want it off your plate so you don’t have to think about it anymore.

3’s – Are not time sensitive. You need to do it at some point (take that class on running Facebook ads, research a better project management system, reach out to those people you met at that networking events to deepen your connection).

4’s – All the BS you feel like you SHOULD be doing because everyone tells you that you should, but doesn’t feel organic to you. (Reels, anyone? Providing free work or advice?)

Now look at your list. You should have no more than 3 things marked as a 1. It’s easy when you’re overwhelmed to think you should get as much done as possible so you won’t feel that way anymore. But I’m telling you, when you’re in this mode, it doesn’t matter how many things you tick off the list, you’re not going to feel better. Also, when you’re really honest with yourself, what will happen if it DOESN’T get done today? Really, what is the absolute worst thing that will happen? Will you die? Will your loved ones? Probably not!

Once you have your 1-3 things picked out that you’re going to focus on today, take 3 deep breaths, push yourself away from the list, and WALK TF AWAY. You’re not going to do anything on that list until you calm down and get into a better headspace. Otherwise you’re not going to be at all productive. Go for a walk, do yoga, throw the ball to your dog, dance it out. Just do something to remind yourself that you are a human and not just a work machine!

Put those three things on a post it or move it to the top of your list on Asana, and then move EVERYTHING ELSE to the next day. Don’t leave them there just in case you have some extra time. Just get them completely out of the way so you can focus on what’s in front of you.

I hope it works! Just know you’re not alone in this feeling. We ALL get this, and it DOESN’T mean there’s something wrong with us or we’re not meant to be business owners. It just means we’re human and expecting too much of ourselves!