Avoid the entrepreneur overwhelm and burnout, and manage those exhausting days with ease and clarity thanks to these handy little tips I’ve learnt from the many, many days of overwhelm and burnout I’ve suffered when growing my business.
Sometimes, when growing or running your little business, it just feels like everything is going wrong, right?
Website isn’t working, campaigns not converting, backlog of little jobs building in the background, unanswered emails, major deadlines looming – it can feel a little too much to handle.
The issue is, when your business is small, or new, or trying to sustain profits in the midst of a global pandemic, you end up getting promoted to every available role that your business needs – without the perks or pay-rise.
Before long, not only are you doing your core role, but you’re also taking on the roles of accountant, social media manager, customer service assistance, technical web help, branding and graphic designer, photographer, strategist, analyst, coffee maker, lunch-maker…. you get the idea.
If not managed well, doing all this can lead to utter exhaustion, physical illness and a general dislike of your business. And that’s without all the things that could go wrong on a daily basis like technical disasters, loss of work, missed deadlines etc.
Which is a heartbreaking thought when you also have dreamed about this for so long, right? Like, weren’t you supposed to love every day of working for yourself?
The truth is, you probably won’t love every day of running your business. Sometimes you just need to get through the day with as much sanity as you can muster, write it off and start fresh tomorrow.
And that’s ok! Because if you can manage that, and avoid the entrepreneur overwhelm that so often just takes the love out of running your business, you’ll still be able to feel that excitement and rush of showing up most mornings, without the tears and tantrums.
Before long, you’ll see that even the worst days of running your own business are better than the best days you ever had at your 9-5. Well, hopefully anyway…
So, here are 7 easily actionable steps you can take on those manic days to cool the tone down a bit, give yourself some breathing room and see the bigger picture. There’s even a print-out guide at the end for you so it can be front and centre when you need it.
I advise this because if you’re in the midst of an overwhelmingly stressful day and everything around you seems to be metaphorically burning down; you’re probably not going to think ‘oh remember that article I read on Tide & Tree’s blog with some actionable steps to take…’
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You ever get that panicky feeling when you forgot to hit save, or your website won’t load… or your coffees run out? It’s a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling that gets to you right at your core.
Truth is, when you get that feeling because somethings gone wrong, your brain instantly jumps to flight or fight mode. All defences are activated and you feel ‘in danger’.
It means you’ll amplify all negative situations, and ignore all positive ones. In a nerdy analogy, if we go back to our primitive days, it’s like you’ve seen a body of water to drink but also a predator nearby. Your brain ignores the lovely cooling water, because it senses danger, and therefore that’s all it can see.
It’s basically a mental filter, and when applied to modern day scenarios like a 3 hour project down the pan because your laptop froze, your brain kinda’ responds in the same way. It only sees disaster, failure, and impending doom.
By removing ourselves from the situation for 5-10 minutes, no matter how tempting it is to stay and fix it there and then, it tells the brain; ‘look this isn’t as scary as you’re trying to tell me it is. I can handle this.’
It dilutes that mental filter, and allows you to see both negative and positives.By doing that, most of the time you’ll be able to see solutions you couldn’t see before. You’ll approach the situation from a calmer, more rational perspective.
Some IDEAS for taking 5:
Go for a walk outside – fresh air is an incredible tonic
Have a coffee and sit away from your computer
Distract yourself – check out the news or social media
Listen to music – chilled for meditation or lively for dance
Eat something – sometimes you literally are just hangry.
Ask yourself PERSPECTIVE questions
Before returning to tackle the day, help yourself see some perspective by asking yourself these questions:
Will i remember this in a years time?
This is one I ask myself a lot. Every single time, the answer has been; no, I probably won’t remember this in a years time. In fact, I probably wouldn’t remember in a months time. It really helps me see how small the issue actually is in the grand scheme of things.
Is this going to really affect my business growth?
Again, most of the time this is a no. Hey, when it goes really wrong or there’s just too much going on and you’re in the middle of a promotion or collaboration – yeah you may lose a few sales and yes, as a new business owner that feels like a kick in the teeth. But is it affecting your 5-year growth? Probably not. Again, ask yourself the above question – will you even remember this day in a years time?
Is this as a big a deal as I’m making it out to be?
It probably isn’t. And I could probably guarantee nearly every other mainstream entrepreneur has had the exact same, if not worse things go wrong for them at some point too. Make sure you’re looking at the problem, not from your eyes, but your customers. Would they see this as a big deal? Probably not.
Am I trying to achieve perfection rather than ‘done’?
Very often, there probably isn’t an issue; you’re just struggling to accept the job is done or the issue is fixed. It’s that pesky mental filter again – you’re only seeing the negatives of the situation, not the positives. If the job passes your quality control checks – then it’s good enough. Tick it as done and move on. You’re always improving – you’ll ever reach perfection, so don’t start trying to now.
3: Re-do the TO-DO list
Ok, so we’ve had a break, we’ve asked ourselves some reality-checking questions and hopefully we’re feeling a little more grounded now. We can see it’s not the worst thing in the world that our to-do list is mega, or a million things are going wrong, or that deadline is looming. It just feels like it is in this moment.
We can accept today isn’t going to be great, but we can also accept there’s 24 hours in a day, including the bad ones; we can do this. It’s just a bad day.
First things first, we need to re-tackle the to-do list for the day, and possible the remainder of the week or month. Shuffle things around so you’re left with the bare bones of tasks today. You don’t need tiny jobs mounting in the background. Remove anything that’s not an absolute priority for today and stick it on the list for future-you’s problem.
For 6 steps to creating your ideal batch working pattern, check out this post!
4: Take 5 – again
Have another break. This one is just as important as the first for overcoming entrepreneur overwhelm. Hopefully by now you’ve gained your breath back and you’re feeling more in control of your day. You’ve gained some perspective, and now you can sit and relax for 5 minutes in a calmer state of mind.
This is also a good opportunity to remind yourself of all the times you’ve felt ‘up against it’ in the past and how you coped, problem-solved or blasted your way through it – say to yourself ‘I can do this’.
This second ‘take-5’ is super important. Don’t skip it.
5: Work through your new to do list
Right, now you should be in a better mental state to work through the challenges that have presented themselves. You’ll most likely see solutions you didn’t see before. You’ll find ways around issues or you can reach out for the support you need to fix the problem.
Make sure this to-do list is bare bones only.
6: Re evaluate at the end of the day
If possible, make sure you finish at a reasonable time, and take five minutes to go over the day. What went well today? Keep that mental filter down by listing the positives of your day. And if you cant find any, following this guide is one of them. Taking steps to manage entrepreneur overwhelm is something to be celebrated.
Then, list what you could learn from today? What could you implement into your strategies to avoid these issues in future? Prevention is better than cure – how can we make sure we’re not in this situation again?
It could be you raise your prices to feel like it’s more worth your time & energy
Maybe you need to create stricter boundaries with clients
Possibly, if you can afford it; outsource areas of your business
If it’s technical, what checklists can you create so the error doesn’t repeat itself?
Not only does finishing the day this way help to avoid burnout in future, but it also helps to end the day on a sweeter note, with positives to remember, a sense of pride in your management of the day, and a general feeling of productivity in learning from the situation going forward.
7: Optional – review this day in a weeks/months/years time
Remember that question you asked yourself in step 2 – would you remember this in a years time? As an experiment, to help build your sense of perspective and create stronger thinking patterns in these moments of crisis, set a little task in your calendar for maybe a month or 3 months, or a years time. Something like ‘remember that day when x happened?’.
Sometimes you’ll remember it vaguely and sometime barely at all. It can help you see how small it really was in the grand scheme of things. It also helps you see how far you’ve come since then. It’s also handy to keep a record of how you handled this day, so next time you need a reminder of just how amazingly well you can cope when things go wrong – you have a growing resource of ‘proof’ that you got this.
Try it, you’ll be surprised by how little that situation bothers you anymore!
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Avoid entrepreneur overwhelm
By taking these little steps and applying them whenever things get too much, you can start to fall back in love with your business again, stop avoiding showing up, and feel like you’re making real progress with your to-do list and business growth – without the tears and tantrums.