I’ve been asked by a number of you if I ever get overwhelmed. The short answer is yes. The better answer, though, is yes, all the time, but never for long, and it never wins.
Feeling overwhelmed is totally natural when you’re taking on something as huge as building and running a business. But leaning into that feeling can spell disaster.
The way I see it, describing our situation in terms of “overwhelm” puts us out of the driver’s seat and directly into the path of whatever is coming at us.
Well, I have the secret to almost completely bypassing overwhelm so that it doesn’t overcome, overpower, or overthrow you and your business.
This strategy will keep you clear, focused, and moving forward. With a few totally doable shifts in how you approach your work, you’ll no longer succumb to this all-too-human emotion.
(I guess that means you’ll be superhuman. You’re welcome!)
Overwhelm is All in Your Head
First, let’s talk about what overwhelm really is.
When clients come to me and say they are overwhelmed, it’s always because they’ve got a huge number of tasks, actions, needs, goals, and whatever else zipping around their brains, bouncing off one another and wreaking havoc.
They often think they have to accomplish every single thing super quickly and perfectly in order to make their business successful, are totally confused about where to start, and feel paralyzed under the weight of it all.
This is what overwhelm does. It tricks you into thinking you’re powerless and incapable. But, as usual, I’m going to give it to you straight: it’s all in your head.
Overwhelm isn’t real! It’s usually just a sign that you’re not clear on your priorities — and that’s totally fixable. Tweet that!
In my experience, there are two broad varieties of overwhelm.
- Information Overload: you have too much information or advice in your head and you’ve lost direction.
- Task Overload: you have so much to do that you’re spinning and not actually getting anything done.
The first type of overwhelm, information overload, is extremely common among people just starting out in their businesses, and that’s the kind of overwhelm I want to tackle first.
Information Overload Can Stop You In Your Tracks
As new entrepreneurs seeking to build online, service-based businesses, we pretty much all start out the same way: by seeking out as much information and guidance as possible.
You read endlessly about building websites and maintaining blogs, listen to podcasts about sales techniques and list-building, sign up for newsletters and webinars about copywriting, and attend events where you can network and get the word out about your business.
But what are you actually getting accomplished? When is it time to stop learning and start doing?
Unfortunately, all that information is really just slowing you down. Being inundated with everyone’s opinion on how to build a business can have the opposite effect of getting you faster results; it can all but stop you in your tracks.
You Can Beat Information-Overload Overwhelm
The key to moving forward and leaving overwhelm behind you is to get quiet, get clear, and get going.
To begin, you have to stop looking outside for more and more information to solve your problem.
Get quiet. Turn down all the noise and shut out all of the distractions that are keeping you from making progress in your business.
Unsubscribe from unhelpful newsletters, stop attending endless webinars, and don’t download any more podcasts just because they have something to do with running a business.
If it helps, take this advice literally! Put yourself in a quiet, soothing space where you can find peace.
Now that things are nice and quiet on the outside, you can turn your attention inward.
The next part of the process is to get clear on your big goals and the steps you need to take to get there.
Look inside. Ask yourself, “What exactly am I trying to accomplish right now?” Whatever the answer is, make it specific. Then, break it down and get even more specific.
For example, “Build a website” is a great goal, but it isn’t nearly specific enough to take action on. Just like I talk about in The Idea Flight Kit, you have to break everything down into micro steps.
In this case, a better answer would be “Figure out where to register a domain name.” The objective here is to pinpoint the small, practical steps you can take action on immediately.
The more specific you can get with what you’re trying to do, the more likely you’ll be able to do it. Tweet that!
If you can’t seem to get this far, then find the one blog, podcast, program, or coach that can help you define your goals and the way forward (and tune out the rest!).
Now that you have your to-do list, it’s time to get going.
As you start checking things off that list, you’re confidence will grow and the overwhelm will fade away.
You might find that you need some additional information to help you accomplish certain tasks. That’s totally okay, because you have the clarity and focus now to seek out the information you need without going too Google-crazy.
And if you do start to feel overwhelm creeping back in because of information overload, you’ll know what to do: get quiet, get clear, and get going.
This approach for getting past overwhelm may seem simple at first, but it’s an incredibly powerful one that I’ve been using since I was 20. In fact, it’s why Getting Shit Done is my #1 superpower.
I want you to take this strategy and run with it! Anyone and everyone who has ever tried to accomplish something great has surely felt the devastating effects of overwhelm (and that includes you, me, and every amazing businesswoman you can possibly think of!). But with this kick-ass overwhelm-neutralizing strategy in hand, I know you’ll never let it get in the way of building your dream business. I believe in you!
Be sure to come back next week for Part 2 if this post. I’ll tell you all about the second type of overwhelm, task overload, which tends to trap more-experienced business owners and, of course, how to kick it to the curb!
I Want to Hear From You!
As always, I want to hear from you. Tell me…
Have you experience information overload lately?
What’s your strategy for snapping out of it?
What’s the one area you feel like you can’t get a handle on, no matter how much you read or hear about it?
Let’s start a conversation in the comments!