“There’s nothing like biting off more than you can chew, and then chewing anyway.”
                                                                                               ~ Mark Burnett


The other today, while I was out running errands, I decided to give my best friend a call – you know, nothing like multi-tasking when you’re running errands.  While she was filling me in on the goings on of her business (she’s at the start of her busy season), she asked me if I’ve ever felt like I had so much to do that I didn’t even know where to start.

more_than_you_can_chewUm…who hasn’t?

Especially if you’re a solopreneur and wearing all the hats in your business. In our busy lives, it’s not uncommon as a business owner (or a parent, or a wife, or a caretaker) to find yourself in a state of overwhelm.

The challenge is in making sure it’s only a temporary visit and getting out of that state of overwhelm and moving into a less stressful state where you feel like you have a little control over things (I know better than to say “control over life“) as quickly and easily as possible.

When I find myself feeling overwhelmed (like I did these past couple weeks as I’ve been preparing for my return to teaching), I find that a few things work really well to help me snap out of overwhelm and into productivity.

Step Away & Change Your Scenery – When you find yourself overwhelmed, I’ve found that stepping away and changing up the scenery helps a lot.  For some, you might need to do something physical like going for a walk or a run.  For others, you might find that you do best when you find a mindless, repetitive task – like doing dishes or folding laundry – works well.  And still others might just need to stop what they’re doing (or in some cases, not doing) and just relocate themselves to someplace different.  I find that I need to physically get up and leave my desk (and my computer) and do something completely different for an hour or so.

Prioritize & Create a Schedule – I know I’ve talked about this  many, many times before, but…create a list, prioritize what needs to get done first, and then get it onto a schedule.  Plan out time in your day to tend to certain tasks.  I find that I need to leave particular days and blocks of time open for my client work, but I also need to schedule blocks of time for my own work and errands.  Get it on the list so you can see what needs to be done, prioritize what you need to work on first,  and then get it on the schedule.  Then get busy and do it!

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No – This is a hard one for most of us women.  We’re such “helpers” that we have a hard time saying no to things (and especially to people).  We’re usually afraid of what they will think of us if we say no.  I know I’ve been there.  For the longest time, (basically since I moved in with my husband), I was always at his beck and call to run all his errands and doing anything that needed to be done for our home (and that worked well for us both).  Well, when my business started taking off, I had to start telling him that I couldn’t drop everything to get that for him right now.  I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy at first (see “Don’t Even Bother Feeling Guilty” below) and I would think as a mom AND a wife it’s even harder still.  But I promise you, the world will not end if you say NO to something.

Don’t Even Bother Feeling Guilty – We are so ruled by our fears of what others might think, that I think we set up our own guilt machine (we don’t even need any help for our parents to kick that machine into action).  If you’re a mother or a wife (or even a daughter or son or an employee, or whatever) your first priority is YOU.  You’re no good to anyone if you’re so tired, so scattered or so overwhelmed that you can’t even think straight.  If something happens to YOU than something happens to your family, your business or your job.  So by default, you can’t let yourself feel guilty because you said no, or because you carved out a little personal time. You have no choice but to focus on Priority #1…YOU! It’s not about being selfish. It’s about knowing that you can’t care for anyone if you can’t actually care for yourself.

Ask for Help or Delegate – Let’s be honest, we’re not all mind readers (even those that say they are).  We don’t know when someone needs help unless they ask.  So get out there and ask your ask.  Could they say No (see “Don’t Be Afraid to Say No” above)…of course they could.  So then you move on to the next person that might be able to help you. Or you hire someone to help you.  Do whatever it takes to get some of your tasks off your plate.  You’re not Wonder Woman.  And no one expects you to be Wonder Woman but yourself.  Ask the ask.  Hand off a task or two to a friend, a family member or a virtual assistant. Or get serious and place an add looking for part-time help (or a house cleaner).  You’ll be surprised how much help you can get when you ask the ask…or how much more you can accomplish when you delegate.

So let today be the day that you say No! to overwhelm.  Let today be the day that you participate fully in your life.

ACTION PLAN: Take the first step in getting lightening up your schedule by letting at least one task a week (or a day) drop off the list. What’s one thing that you can remove from your ToDo list or one obligation you can let go of today?