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How I Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed As A Solopreneur: 3 Simple Steps

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I don’t know about you, but as a solopreneur, I have had A LOT of moments in the past where I was feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and just exhausted. And I can guess that probably you have had moments like this too. You’re feeling stuck and paralyzed because of all these overwhelming thoughts you are having and don’t know where to even start or what to prioritize anymore.

If this has been you lately, then do not worry, I totally get it.

Life as a solopreneur isn’t easy and everyone has these days where just nothing goes smoothly and things spin completely out of control.

First, I want you to take a brief moment to calm down. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths in and out.

Inhale positivity and motivation, exhale negative thoughts, overwhelm and stress.

Now open your eyes again.

Are you feeling ready?

Wanna get your sh*t together like the girl boss you are and stop feeling overwhelmed and stressed?

Let’s crush this!

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feeling-overwhelmed

Everyone can handle a certain amount of things on their plate. Some tend to get overwhelmed quite quickly, while others can have A LOT on their plate without it actually affecting them.

However, before I start, I want to make a quick disclaimer.

There is a clear difference between just feeling a lil’ overwhelmed once in a while OR dancing on the border of a burnout. If you have been struggling for a long period of time with these feelings of overwhelm, stress, and exhaustion, then please see this as a sign to press pause and let your body recover before it’s too late. Listen to your body as it’s trying to tell you that you are exhausted and can’t do this anymore. Being burned out is no joke and can have long-lasting effects on your physical and mental health, such as chronic anxiety.

That being said, there are basically three different ways to ditch these feelings of overwhelm and stress.

Method #1: Treating the symptom (dealing with the feelings of overwhelm itself)

  • Ventilating to someone you trust

  • Journaling and brain dumping all your thoughts on a piece of paper, so you can look at your worries from a different perspective and move on with a clear mind

  • Practicing meditation and yoga

  • Listening to calm music

  • Having self-compassion: Don’t be too harsh on yourself. When everything is spinning out of control, it’s OK to feel overwhelmed. This doesn’t make you a weak or fragile person. On the contrary, admitting to yourself that the situation is out of control, is essential in order to take control of the situation again.

  • When the source of your overwhelm is caused by doing something completely new and out of your comfort zone, be incredibly proud of yourself for having the courage to do this.

  • Actively start believing in yourself and your abilities. Believe that you have the power to take this situation under control again.

  • Give yourself a mental break regularly and disconnect completely from the world. Take the day or evening off and do your self-care routine. Tomorrow is another day that you can try again. It is not a sprint, it is a marathon!

Method #2: Increasing your capacity (making your plate bigger)

  • Making sure to sleep at least 7-8 hours per day

  • Eating wholesome and moving your body sufficiently

  • Stop multi-tasking, It’s inefficient and causes overwhelm. Set a timer (or use apps like Pomodoro or Forest). During this time, try focusing on only one task (and do not even think about other tasks), nail it, and then move on to the next.

  • Plan and get as organized as possible. Know which things you have to get done for that day, so there are fewer surprises. Make sure to have planned enough time ahead so if things don’t go as planned, you have a little wiggle room left before reaching the deadline. Racing against the time in order to achieve a certain deadline is not only one of the main reasons people feel overwhelmed, but can also be totally avoided by planning ahead.

  • Don’t try to do everything perfectly from the beginning. Especially when trying something new, you have to give yourself the time and space to experiment and learn from trial and error. So don’t be upset if you’re making mistakes and things are not perfect.

Method #3: Dealing with the origin (removing things on your plate)

  • Ask yourself what specifically is giving you an overwhelming headache? Is there a certain project you’re nervous about? What is not going smoothly in your business that causes stress? Tackle the cause of the overwhelm. Look at the things you’re worried about.

  • Focus only on the things you actually have control over. Worrying about ‘what if’s’ or other things that are completely out of your ability to control is useless.

  • When something looks like this huge mountain that is impossible to reach, ask yourself which 3 steps you can take to move closer to your goal. So break the project down into baby steps and focus only on the next 3 steps (forget everything else).

  • Set your first goal so ridiculously small that it will almost cost you no effort and consequently, it doesn’t scare you. And while you are at it and doing this ridiculously small goal, you are likely to continue working on this project and accomplish extra things (bonus points).

  • Overwhelm is often a sign that your life is unbalanced. Having a good work-life balance and protecting your private time are essential. Use my Essentialism Matrix to free up time and create balance.

  • Avoid distractions and information overload, it exhausts you and leaves you with no energy for the things that do matter.

  • Re-evaluate your to-do list. Become crystal clear with yourself and remove those things that you know at the end of the day do not matter that much.

  • Ask yourself honestly: Is this task actually urgent? Is there no way for me to postpone the deadline?

  • Automate and outsource those tasks that are taking up too much time or are stressing you out, so you can have some space to breathe or to use this time on tasks that actually keep the needle moving in your biz.
feeling-overwhelmed

Still feeling overwhelmed? Try doing this visualization

Imagine yourself being a firefighter.

You are standing in front of a burning house and there is fire everywhere. These fires represent your to-do’s, problems, and worries.

Of course, you feel scared, overwhelmed and might doubt yourself and your firefighter abilities seeing these huge flames, but as a firefighter, you have to go into the burning house despite your emotions.

If the firefighter would be lead by her emotions, she would never be able to save people that are still inside the burning building.

So really, if you have one of these days that you feel super overwhelmed, then make a ponytail, keep your head up and put your ‘firefighter mode’ on. Be confident, fearless, efficient, and in control, and put out the fires one by one.

As a firefighter, prioritizing is crucial. If you start with the smallest fires, then meanwhile the big and aggressive ones will become so big, that they will be completely out of control.

So basically you have 4 types of fires (based on the EISENHOWER Matrix) and you have to decide which fires to put out first.

  • There are big fires that are very aggressive and become bigger every second (important and urgent tasks). DO: Start with putting out these ones first.

  • There are big fires that more or less stay the same size (important, but not urgent tasks). SCHEDULE: These ones you will put out later, once the big and aggressive ones are done.

  • There are small fires that are aggressive and become bigger every second (not important, urgent tasks). DELEGATE: Ask help from another firefighter to put these ones out.

  • There are small fires that more or less stay the same size (not important and not urgent tasks). DELETE: ignore these ones for now

So just take a deep breath and focus. Start putting out the first fire without worrying about the next ones. Nail it and move on to the next one. Before you realize it, you actually did it! The house isn’t on fire anymore.

feeling-overwhelmed

And remember that in reality, you are not in a burning house. Even if you feel like it, you aren’t actually in danger, you are just feeling overwhelmed. Even in the worst-case scenario when everything goes wrong, you will survive. It won’t kill you, it will just make you stronger.

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Let’s Chat!

Let me know in the comments what you do to deal with feelings of overwhelm?

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  1. Heather says:

    These are great tips! I find feelings of overwhelm or anxiety a little higher this year, trying to juggle work and life during a pandemic! I’ve tried to focus on small goals and also schedule in exercise (walks, biking, whatever). The fresh air and activity help clear my mind.

  2. Brooke says:

    Yes! I needed this. It is so easy to get caught up with it all, especially in these covid times.

  3. Jo says:

    Such amazing tips! This year has been so tough and my anxiety has definitely peaked earlier than usual, but I’ll pin these tips for later. Thank you x

  4. Mackenzie says:

    Great tips and reminders! It’s easy to get burned out when you work for yourself so it’s extra important to take care of yourself

  5. Alex says:

    Wow! That’s an impressive article! I found that for me the best method to avoid overwhelming is to kill my inner perfectionist, to take one task at a time and for sure a delicious cup of tea 😉

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Elisabeth says:

    Great post with some really helpful tips! I definitely find myself overwhelmed as a small business owner on my own and I will definitely be returning to this article the next time I do.

  7. These tips are really wonderful! Such good reminders that we need to take care of our mental and physical health as much as possible in order to be productive. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Tammy Harris says:

    Really needed this reminder today. So many things on my plate and seems like not enough time. I have to remind myself that not having everything perfect is ok. Great tips, thank you for sharing~

  9. Lois says:

    Those are all good tips and I agree with everything. I love the firefighter example. But, of course – help always helps, I decided it helps to get help. It is not always costly.

  10. Shala says:

    Whew, chile! I needed this. I’m guilty of multi-tasking which then leads to me feeling overwhelmed (I’m doing it as I type this), with the thought that it would help me to get through more things (it doesn’t). Thanks for the reminder to slow down.

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