We’ve all been there – that point where you feel like you can’t possibly get even half of the things on your schedule done, that point where you’re ready to give up and just go watch TV because you’ve already failed. That overwhelmed feeling can easily creep up on you when you’re your own boss. Instead of being another cog in the corporate machine, you’re your own entire machine – and when you fail, the whole thing shuts down.
When you get overwhelmed, the first thing you need to do is take a step back and assess the situation. Pinpointing the problem and choosing a solution that will get you out of your hole and back in the game should be your only concerns. If you’re struggling to overcome your feelings, try one of these simple methods:
Reset: If you’re already overwhelmed, trying to dig your way out of it can be almost as difficult as dealing with the feeling in the first place. So don’t! Instead, hit the reset button and start everything over. First, make a list of all of the things you have to do, starting with the most pressing and going from there. Next, put everything away except your list – file papers, close notebooks, clear your desk, etc. Finally, turn off your computer and leave the room. Give yourself five or ten minutes to relax, then head back in and start your day over, this time focusing only on the task at the top of your list.
Eliminate Outside Influence: When you’ve got a pile of work in front of you, the last thing your mind needs to be focused on is your phone bombarding you with endless Facebook and Twitter notifications, and as mean as it may sound, if your family is coming into your office and it’s not an emergency, you need to lock that door and get down to business. It takes at least 20 minutes to get back on track after a distraction. Think about it – three distractions an hour means you’re working at 100% exactly 0% of the time. Turn off your notifications, close down your email program, lock your door and get to work!
Focus Down One Task: Let’s be honest – staring at a to-do list with nothing complete is far, far worse than staring at that same list with just a single check on it. There are two ways to go about this, and you may have to experiment to see which one benefits you more. The first way is to pick the biggest, most daunting thing on the list and get it done. Tackling this gigantic feat will surely get you back on track. The second way is the exact opposite – pick the smallest, easiest task you have and bust it out. This path isn’t about getting work done, it’s about getting that checkmark as quickly as possible and getting that productivity snowball rolling down the hill.
Ask For Help: You are not the all-seeing and all-knowing bastion of getting things done, and there’s no need to try to be. Are you struggling to finish all your work and housework and a million little projects? Ask for help! Maybe you know someone who would be willing to pitch in on your work for a few bucks, or even the promise of returning the favor when you’re back on track. If you’re definitely the one who has to do the work, find some help with the rest of your to-do list. Try TaskRabbit or a similar service to free up parts of your schedule.
Learn To Say No: Are you in this position because you’re taking on work that you don’t even necessarily need to be doing? If so, you need to learn to start rejecting work that isn’t necessary, or at least delegating work that can be given to others. If a task or idea isn’t worth your time, don’t be afraid to say so! Put personal feelings aside and recognize that you simply can’t handle everything – chances are, someone else can do that job while you focus on more important work.
Hopefully one of these ideas will help you pull yourself out of your funk and get yourself back on the path to productivity. Do you have a different way that you snap yourself out of negative feelings?
© 2017, The Strauss Group, Inc.