“I just don’t know where to start…”
“How do I know what to focus on first…?”
“I KNOW I really have something here, that I can really make a difference, but it feels like I am mostly putting out fires rather than making progress…”
Almost every conversation I have with entrepreneurs includes some version of this frustration. Whether you generate $20,000/month or $2,000/month, whether you have been in business for 10+ years or in the process of mapping out your launch, feeling overloaded can and does threaten to confuse and overtake your hard earned progress.
This is frustrating and unendingly exhausting. At the end of the day you are plagued with a vague sense of, “What on Earth did I get done?”, even when you’ve raced from task to task, hustling to get through a To Do list a mile long.
You are working so hard! How could you possibly feel like you are getting more and more behind?!
This isn’t about lack of hustle. This isn’t about lack of discipline or because you didn’t utilize “Inbox Zero” properly or because you aren’t passionate enough about what you are doing.
What is happening is that you are overwhelmed. Your brain is on overdrive and it can only operate like that for so long before giving up and shutting down.
Fortunately there are a few strategies you can use to address this. I like to think of things across 3 categories:
#3 Build Momentum
Let’s look more closely at #2: Simplify.
You can not execute on every single idea you have. It’s just impossible. You are brilliant but you are not a machine so you need to employ some practical vetting tactics to simplify your task list:
What do you actually do? Focus there.
By this I mean: Who do you serve and how do you serve them directly? You have tasks to execute on in a broad range of categories in your business: Marketing, Sales, Operations, Finance. You’ve got your social feeds to tend to, your products and services to perfect, procedures to finalize etc.. You have a lot of boxes to tick and only so much time, so it is imperative that you prioritize what is most important. And how do you do that? You put at the top of your list those things that most directly put you in a position to serve your customer.
Do you need to update your website? Probably, but first you need to do the thing that more directly serves your customer.
Do you need to tweak your logo? Maybe, but first you need to serve your customer.
Do you need to go Live on your social feeds every day? Does that directly serve your customer? If yes, then go ahead. If not, reevaluate.
Revenue generating activities.
In the swirl of competing priorities focus on those directly tied to revenue generation. This closely ties in to #1 Focusing on what you actually do.
When you focus on directly driving value for your customers, which your customers will then pay for, you put yourself in a position where you are able to serve more customers in turn. If you don’t get paid you can’t keep the lights on and you can’t drive value for your clients.
Do you need to make progress on non-revenue generating activities? Absolutely! But not to the exclusion of revenue generating ones. The “making money” side of your business needs to be a top priority every day. There is no such thing as “Build it and they will come.” You need to sell it. Today. And then tomorrow. And then every day after that.
Chop it down.
If you look at a project and think it will take you approximately 2 weeks to get it done you will NEVER get it done. It won’t happen. Two weeks will stretch to 4 weeks and the imposing hugeness of what needs to be tackled will have you distracting yourself with mindless scrolls through Facebook.
Chop your project down, and then chop it down again, and then chop it down again until your project is now a series of tasks that you can get done in at most a ½ a day.
Write these down on a sticky-note, put it by your computer and review before you tackle your work for the day. This is how you can simplify your list and guard yourself against overwhelm and the paralysis of feeling like you have a million things to do:
Focus on what you REALLY do;
Prioritize revenue generating activities;
Break your projects down into tasks you can complete in ½ a day.
That’s it! Have fun with it! Next we’ll talk about how to tackle overwhelm from the vantage point of using Clarity and Building Momentum. Stay tuned!
By Shauna Stewart Douglas - WIL Entrepreneur Expert + Founder of Permission to Profit: I help ambitious women surpass their income goals and make their business run like clockwork in 8 weeks: permissiontoprofit.co