By Women’s leadership coach, Katy Murray
Burnout, overwhelm and stress will ruin your business if you allow it. Wellbeing is absolutely essential for your creativity and productivity. We want to offer a safe space for women in business to learn the tools and techniques to overcome burnout and overwhelm so they can truly flourish in business and in life.
We’re in an overwhelm epidemic and female entrepreneurs are no exception! In a recent UK study, 81% of women said they have felt overwhelmed in the past year (compared with 67% of men).
You’re the boss, you’re in charge of your own time. There are so many opportunities, right?
On the one hand, this is so exciting, and the freedom initially can be intoxicating (particularly if you’ve just jumped out of a more traditional job).
On the flip side, you’ve not got anyone else to guide you in your choices on how you spend your time on a daily basis.
The Entrepreneurial Juggle
As entrepreneurs we’re juggling working IN our business (day-to-day delivery of your products and services), while also working ON our business (holding the overview, and the big picture of your purpose and mission, while also developing your systems, processes and culture).
When I first set up Catalyst Collective 2 years ago I was doing things I’d never done before, every week. The rate of learning and personal growth was huge. Hmm let’s be honest, that hasn’t really changed since then!
I was so exhilarated with the new opportunities and possibilities, but some days I didn’t know where to start. I’d make a list, then a spreadsheet, then a Trello board, then a list of lists to keep track of where all my lists were. I’d have my Slack channel open with my team, my WhatsApp groups pinging, alongside texting and emailing.
Every day would be full and I’d be super busy but not always sure I was doing the ‘right’ thing. Add to this the feeling that ‘busy’ is somehow a symptom of success and the context of social media where watching others’ progress can cause us to doubt our own momentum. We’re creating a pressure cooker for ourselves.
At times I could feel the physical anxiety of my self-generated workload and the pressure I felt I was under to make it all a success. My flight, fight or freeze response kicks in. I know now that this is the start of overwhelm.
Overwhelm kills our productivity, fries our brains, knocks our confidence and hits our performance and happiness big style.
I had to learn the daily, weekly and monthly habits that would help me to manage my time and energy so that I could thrive and me, my team and my business didn’t suffer.
Dealing with overwhelm is live and real for me every week in my business, and it’s also one of the #1 topics that comes up in my 1-1 coaching with women leader clients.
I’ll be sharing these tips, strategies and #powerpractices with you during my F&F workshop.
Yes, there are longer-term strategies to ease out the flow and workload and yes these are key conversations you need to have (we’ll cover all of these in our March online workshop).
In the meantime if you’re in overwhelm at the moment, you don’t need a long-term plan – you need emergency help right here, right now!
10 steps to shift you out of overwhelm that you can action NOW!
Here’s your overwhelm first aid kit:
- Get grounded. Breathe. Set an intention for this next moment. How do you want to feel today? Connect with that feeling. Move your body to go and make a hot drink or get a glass of water. Drink your drink!
- Agree with yourself that you’ve got this. Yes, you’ve a lot on your plate and you feel overwhelmed at this precise moment. AND you are able and capable. You are enough in this moment. Don’t look ahead where it feels overloaded. Just be in the moment.
- Decide and agree with yourself that you will be present for one thing at a time. Thinking about everything all at once creates mental shut down – we literally don’t have enough mental bandwidth to cope. So, the strategy is to be fully present with each thing. Decide to focus on one thing at a time and do one thing at once. Close down everything else on your work station. Rather than having multiple documents, emails, social media open all at the same time, clear out your work space – have the one thing you are working on open
- Decide what is THE most important thing I need to progress today (note not complete just progress). What is your ONE high priority thing for today. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, even making this choice can be hard. Connect with the thing that feels most important for today.
- Do that thing FIRST. Often we can feel a pull to knock quantity off our to-do list, so we’ll do 7 small things first. But then we can get to the end of the day and we haven’t done the most important thing for that day. Do your high priority One Thing first.
- Use batching…
- Here’s how this works: Choose your one thing to work on. Shut down everything else. Set your timer for 30 minutes. Work undistracted for 30 minutes on that one thing.
- When the 30 minutes is up STOP.
- Often after we’ve done concentrated work we can go to our phone, put on a podcast or open up social media. These are strokes which we think will help us feel better, actually, these activities can just contribute to the problem of overwhelm.
- Instead, use this ‘in-between’ time to re-energise your body and your brain for a few moments. Get up, stretch, move your body, go get a drink. Movement is really important It helps you mark that this piece is done. It activates your brain in a fresh way, it kicks you into a different state. Stand up, stretch run up and down stairs, do star jumps, get your heart rate up.
- Then ask yourself what is the NEXT most important thing I need to progress today . You can use this question to help you focus on the next most important thing. ‘What is the one thing I can do right now that’s going to make the biggest difference to me feeling how I want to feel today?’
- Go to your next thing. Set your timer. Work for 30 minutes.
- Stop. Take a break. Repeat!
At the end of your day
At the end of your day clear your workspace. Make a fresh priorities list for tomorrow. Allow your brain to let things go. Know there will be time tomorrow.
Reflect back on what you were able to progress today. Notice you may want to focus on what you haven’t done and how there’s still so much to do. Instead, focus on what you were able to do. Share some gratitude with yourself that you’re making progress.
Do something fun for yourself that enables you to feel the way you want to feel today. Walk in nature. Squeeze or Facetime your kids. Listen to your partner. Watch an inspiring TED talk. Tune into your favourite podcast. Cook some delicious food. Listen to relaxing or energising music. Have a bath. You know what to do! Give yourself 30 mins for this too.
Get up 30 mins earlier and start your day with a focused morning routine to set you up in a great place for the day ahead.😊
Over to you!
- What are your patterns when you’re in overwhelm?
- What are your go-to behaviours?
- What will you experiment with from our tips?
Want to go deeper? Need to beat overwhelm? Want to feel more spacious? Want to get more done?
Join us for ‘How to beat overwhelm, feel spacious and get more done’ to learn more practical make-a-difference-now strategies…
Looking forward to seeing some of you there!
About the author
Katy is a conference speaker and convenor, trainer, coach, facilitator and Director of Catalyst Collective www.catalyst-collective.com She works with female leaders and founders/entrepreneurs to step up to lead our businesses without burning out. She lives in the Lake District with her partner + 2 kids. She loves all things turquoise, café working and yoga in the hills.
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