Dealing with business overwhelm

I have seen so many posts lately about business overwhelm. Believe me, after almost 17 years working for myself I have been there many times. I thought it might be useful to share with you how I use technology to help me manage it.

You must know the feeling, where there are so many things running through your brain, generally in the middle of the night! You have all those phenomenal ideas. Then there are those chores that need to be done. You write a to-do list because that’s what everyone tells you to do. You look at it and there are just far too many things on it that you really don’t know where to start. Should you ‘tackle the elephant in the room’ or ‘eat the frog’ first? Do you prioritise the big stuff or go for small wins. Ticking stuff off a huge list doesn’t really make you feel better because you already added more to the list than you ticked off.

Oh yes! I have been there many, many times. I’ve chatted with coaches, other business owners, my husband and been coached myself. The trouble is they all had different ideas about how I should manage all this. None of it worked for me. You see at the end of the day they were just lists, ever growing lists that may or may not have ticks. I needed something more practical…and I found it. And what’s even better is that it was free! What am I referring to? Google Calendar!

I was already using it to book appointments. I had it on my phone, my tablet and my laptop without doing extra work. I just wasn’t using it to its full potential. When I discovered that I could use colours on time blocks to indicate different things I was stupidly excited. It made such a difference to me. Yeah, I know, it’s a bit sad! But really, it did mean a huge difference to how I was handling my time.

OK, I’ll get to the point. Instead of adding a task to a list I give it a time block. It gets colour coded according to type. Red tasks are not movable, they must be done in that time block. You can of course choose your own colour coding but stick to it. Time blocks vary in size according to either how long that task will take or how long I can dedicate to it on that day. Don’t block longer than 3 hours if you can help it. Your brain won’t thank you for that.

Once I have allocated time to a task then I can stop thinking about it until it’s time to do it. My brain is free to focus on the task I am trying to complete now. I know if necessary I have some wiggle room and I don’t plan my day without a little wiggle room – everyday.

Things don’t always go to plan. Days get messed up. Timings change but this method has worked for me for many years now. Everything has a slot, including marketing, invoicing, bank reconciliation and all the myriad of other non-fee earning tasks that need to be done each week. I schedule gym time, lunch dates and holidays too. Everything gets a slot in the diary. Everything gets a colour assigned to it (anyone who has seen my diary will tell you how colourful it is)!

I can’t say that this method will work for you but I know it works well for me. No more pointless lists of stuff that gets put off and put off until it becomes an emergency. My accountant loves me too – because she gets to do my Self Assessment BEFORE January!

You have to find a method that works for you but if you are suffering from overwhelm and lists aren’t working then give this a try and let me know how you get on. I always love to hear from our readers.