What to do when you're stuck and overwhelmed
It's happened to us all, especially as small business owners, where we've found ourselves overwhelmed with work. Usually, by our own design, we actually feel paralyzed and unable to get work done.
We've put together 8 simple tips to help you power through during those times when we're under the gun and just need to get work done.
1. WRITE IT DOWN
Nothing beats a to-do list. There are many apps out there that can accomplish this for you, but there is no feeling better than physically writing down your list of to-dos, and then scratching or checking them off.
Getting everything down on paper allows you to understand what you're up against and lets you plan accordingly.
Making sure to turn even little to-dos into formal tasks will ensure a sense of accountability and allow for you to feel more accomplished, as crossing them off feels oh-so-good.
I tend to keep a stack of post-it notes close by and stick them to the wall as I incur new objectives throughout the day. It feels even better to rip them off the way, crumple them up and play trash bin basketball. It tends to add a level of excitement into the mundane repetitive nature of the day-to-day.
For the majority of entrepreneurs, myself included, it's not so easy to give up control to other members of the team. There's just a mentality that if we do it ourselves it will be done right. That's not always the case, however, when overwhelmed we have a greater chance of missing something or even worse doing it incorrectly.
The delegation of tasks can be and should be one of the best tools in your toolbox, and one of the most powerful moves to make.
Though delegation takes a lot of upfront work, the backend is smooth sailing. Besides, you built your team for a reason, bank on those skills you so greatly admire of them.
3. SMART GOAL SETTING
In most cases, we always set goals for ourselves, even without realizing it. But are we being SMART about it?
Goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Trackable. If they are too lofty, the anxiety of accomplishment will start to sneak in and in most cases, the goal easily becomes ignored and replaced.
4. PUMP YOURSELF UP
Sometimes all it takes is getting pumped. Re-energize yourself with your favorite soundtrack, through on some heavy metal or deep techno (whatever your happy go luck poison is). I would suggest if you're in an office environment to through on some headphones, 'nah... just crank it!
Studies have shown that music has the ability to help you focus and think. So turn that dial and get pumped! You will find that any anxiety you were having has now been calmed and you will feel like you can take on the work, one task at a time.
5. CREATE CONSISTENCY
Whether you're a blogger, designer or entrepreneur in some obscure industry, there are tasks that you do on a somewhat consistent basis (or at least should be doing). These might include writing blog posts, responding to comments, emailing potential clients or writing proposals.
When you feel overwhelmed, these tasks may become unmanageable or unimportant. Instead, try blocking out consistent chunks of time in your week to dedicate to these important tasks, making sure to not overcommit yourself to anything unreasonable.
I tend to block out the mornings, typically the hours between 8 am to 10 am, as I find these are my most product hours of the workday, and I fill them with the hard work. I don't respond to emails of an unurgent nature and usually, leave my phone in my pocket while fighting the urge to look at every notification.
This leaves my afternoon pretty open for meetings and the day-to-day. While still allowing me to be flexible should a conflict arise that needs my immediate attention.
6. PHONE A FRIEND
Have you ever just been so stuck on something that you couldn't move past it? It happens a lot in my world, especially when I'm coding. That one single misplaced comma or colon can make or break a project. Sometimes it's even process related, you know it in your head, but you can just bring it to words, the pieces just don't fit together.
Believe it or not, this phenomenon is quite common. So in times of desperation, phone a "friend". This "friend" could be a colleague, a relative or ... an actual friend. They don't necessarily have to have any background in what you are experiencing, but sometimes a sounding board is enough to get you to the next level.
This not only takes some off the pressure off of you but also introduces some fresh new life into your work.
I know I have popped into a colleague's office that knows very little about what I do and how I do it, and I will just ramble off my pain or frustration and they will just sit there and shake their head up and down without a clue. I will continue on, for a bit of time, then have one of those "AHA!" moments and run back to my office without them even making a gesture or comment.
7. INITIATE THE BLINDERS PROTOCOL
When you have a huge project or an aggressively approaching deadline, office chatter, music or small interruptions can be an unwelcomed distraction. Simply closing your office door may not be enough to sway interruptions from occurring, especially if you work in an open concept.
Besides gritting your teeth to power through, think about what you can do to alleviate some of these disruptions. This could be anything from switching your office hours up to arrive earlier, to changing the scenery altogether by working from home or a coffee shop. You could even completely unplug and work on your penmanship.
For myself, I typically try to change up my scenery as I find too much consistency can cause a stale environment. I will work from home in the morning and head to the office in the afternoon.
It allows me a break from routine, and the freedom to complete heavy focus reliant tasks without much distraction.
8. UNDERPROMISE, OVERDELIVER
Setting expectations is an important part of communicating with clients, colleagues, family and friends. When you consistently overpromise something you may or may not be able to deliver upon, you are setting yourself and the relationship for failure. Eventually, the relationship will fade because they find you are unreliable, and that's just not good business.
Of course, there are times where timelines may shift due to unforeseen circumstances, but be honest with yourself when setting expectations. Ask yourself if you can achieve what you are promising within the timeframe, don't just say you can do it to make them happy. They'd rather you be honest and take longer then receive the project late.
It is important to set these expectations up front, and clearly, and then overdeliver whenever possible. It's an awesome feeling and you'll look like a Rockstar.
That's All Folks! Sound off in the comments below if you want to share your tips & tricks for getting past the hump.