What can you expect as an online entrepreneur?
Freedom to make your own decisions. Freedom to set a schedule you want to work. Freedom to earn as much as you are willing to work for. And feeling overwhelmed at least once in your career.
Why? Because the very nature of being an online entrepreneur means every decision, every success, every failure, and every dollar you earn is entirely up to you.
The same exact reasons you love being an online entrepreneur can lead to feeling overwhelmed because you’re responsible for all of it.
According to Psychology Today’s blog:
“At some point, hard-work-can-make-it-happen people experience a tipping point at work. As if their brain has blown a fuse, they find themselves mindlessly clicking a retractable pen for minutes at a time, or frantically scrolling through documents without even really reading them.
“Even if their minds tell them they need to check off everything on their to-do list, they’re paralyzed by indecision. Their brain’s power grid is overloaded, so the result is like summer in the city when everyone’s running an air conditioner — the lights flicker, and then go out.”
But what exactly is emotional overwhelm?
According to The Calm Clinic website, feeling overwhelmed is a result of anxiety. If you’re anxious (physically or emotionally), it can often bring about overwhelm.
Much of the time with online entrepreneurs, we simply need to get a handle on what’s happening so we are more stable. Then we’re ready to create solutions instead of buckling under an ever-growing to-do list.
How to begin overcoming overwhelm.
Here’s what usually happens with me. I get too much on my plate (for whatever reason) and that starts a snowball effect that forces me to play catchup. I do not like being behind on my deadlines. At. All.
As I struggle to gain ground, I get frustrated and my mind scatters. That typically leads me to the point of being 80% nonproductive. From there the frustration and anxiety grow until I have to either give up entirely (not going to happen) or stop everything and take time to reboot.
1. The very first thing I do is gather up all the fragmented pieces of information and compile them into one place.
That’s where I suggest you start, too. Every sticky note, all the scraps of paper, the digital reminders in my calendar… all of it.
Are these all current? Do you have old tasks mixed in that you no longer need to worry about? Are you missing anything? Are there things you need to get done that you haven’t written down somewhere yet?
Once you have collected everything (to the best of your knowledge), move on.
2. Next, prioritize everything.
What has to get done right now and do you have everything you need to do those tasks right now? What needs to be done before you can complete other tasks? Which things can wait 2 to 7 days? Which can be done later than 7 days?
Assigning dates to everything allows you to skip the panic of a deadline slipping up on you.
3. Then rewrite your to-do list using the new order of priority.
If you need to get something finished in the next 2 days, but you don’t have all the bits and pieces needed to do that, it slips into the #1 spot. Your first order of action is to get what you need and complete this task.
Next come the things you need to get done that you do have everything in place for.
Then list those that can wait a few days and up to 1 week.
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Last go the remainder: things you want to do when you have time or those that have no deadline assigned yet.
4. Investigate why you got derailed this time. (It always seems to be a different reason.)
If you understand what went wrong that threw you off, you stand a better chance of not letting it happen again in the future.
For example, the last time I was hit with emotional overwhelm was when I was creating my Email Advantage: How To Write Promotional Emails That Convert training.
I had the outline done, I’d written about three of the six modules, and I still had three weeks left before launch date. Then things went sideways.
I started resting on my laurels and taking more time off than I should have. Before I knew it, I had two weeks before launch date and lots left to do.
What sealed my feeling overwhelmed was when I noticed that my assistant was going to be out of town for 3 of the 10 business days before the launch. Holy cow!
5. Next, devise a plan to get you out of the hole you dug. Although sometimes the hole is dug by unforeseen circumstances, the result is the same… you have to find a way to overcome.
Can you get up earlier or stay up later to add more work hours to your day? Can you delegate to an assistant (child, friend, etc.)? Do you need to turn down work until you pull yourself out of the crisis? All are possibilities.
For example, you might have your child bake his/her own brownies for school snack time. Or purchase brownies instead of baking them. Or have your spouse drop the dry cleaning off instead of you.
Can you repurpose work instead of creating all-new content? The idea is to look for ways you can shave hours from your work day to allow you to catch up.
6. Finally, outline ways you can avoid this particular variety of overwhelm in the future.
Once I understood what happened (being lazy to put it bluntly), I learned my lesson. Although I’d just been through a very stressful personal time in my life, I will absolutely remember not to choose the middle of prepping for a product launch to rest and relax.
On the other hand, I will do a much better job of looking to the future to ensure all the team members I need will be readily available.
It’s all about knowledge. When we understand why and how we got into a frustrating position where overwhelm crept in, we can do our best to make certain it doesn’t happen again in the future.
And that makes for a more relaxing work/life balance!