Are you feeling overwhelmed, like you’re working all the time and yet nothing gets done?
Are you drowning in a list of to-dos you can never get a handle on?
Are you in a constant state of panic putting out yesterday’s fires, it feels like you can never get ahead?
It’s a stage every entrepreneur goes through. You’re having lunch at your desk, sleeping 4 hours a night, and filling every spare 5 minutes you have with work, trying to do all the things to grow your business…
…But it’s not working. The business isn’t growing and you’re feeling more overwhelmed and burnout than ever. And then you start wondering, “how did this happen?!”
The sad part is, it doesn’t have to be like this. You can build a successful business without hustling 24/7 and feeling like you’re never doing enough.
But it takes breaking through the self-sabotaging patterns that keep you stuck in busy work and overwhelm in the first place. It takes strategic planning. And it takes asking for support.
Here are the most common causes of overwhelm and how to overcome them, so you can build a successful business that gives you the freedom (and money!) you’ve always craved:
What Is Overwhelm?
- Bury or drown beneath a huge mass of something, especially water.
- Have a strong emotional effect on.
Overwhelm is a feeling of anxiety or stress that makes you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of endless to-do lists. You feel like you have too many things to do – and almost no time at all to do it in.
Everything feels important, so you’re always jumping from one task to another, trying to do it all – and putting out fires in the process. There’s always an “emergency” coming up, a task left undone from the previous day, something that throws all your plans out of the window.
Your mind starts to panic… “Can I ever get it all done?” You’re stressed, overwhelmed, and if you’re anything like me, you may even start hoping you’d get sick so you could finally take a break. *sighs*
The Real Cause Of Overwhelm
Overwhelm isn’t the result of having too many things to do – even if it feels like it.
Overwhelm is misalignment. As my mentor David Neagle points out, “burnout is confusion. It’s a sign of conflicting values within a person. It is doing too much … but doing too much of the wrong things and not enough of the right things.”
Successful entrepreneurs don’t do all the things. They know which strategy to use to reach their goal and what tasks they absolutely need to do to get there. Everything else, they either delegate, automate, or ignore.
Struggling entrepreneurs know what tasks would move the needle forward in their business. They’re the most uncomfortable tasks – like making offers to everyday, doing public speaking gigs and going on podcasts to promote yourself, fill your calendar with coffee chats to find potential partners…
These tasks trigger your subconscious success blocks, like fear of failure or rejection. So, your mind gets you stuck into busy work, tricking you into believing that every task has the same importance and that, if you drop something, your business will fall apart.
In reality, you’re falling apart – and that means it’s only a matter of time before your business will fall apart, too.
The key to getting out of overwhelm is getting into alignment. Getting clear on what you absolutely must do to reach your goals – and so no to anything else.
How Overwhelm Slows Down Your Business
At the start of my business, I was spreading myself so thin trying to do all the things the gurus were telling me to do to grow fast. I was on every social media platform, hosting webinars, going to networking events, blogging… Your name it, I was doing it.
My to-do list was never-ending. As soon as I completed a task, 10 new ones popped up to replace it. I was having lunch and dinner at my desk every day, staying up late to reply to emails, and barely had any time left to see my partner and friends…
I was constantly overwhelmed and exhausted… and the business was NOT growing. I wanted to break through this plateau, but I had no idea how do it without working harder – and I knew that wasn’t an option (unless I gave up sleeping altogether…).
The turning point was a random encounter with a coach. She offered me a free session and what came out of it shocked me:
I thought I was doing all the right things to grow my business… In reality, I was spreading myself so thin so that nothing had a chance to grow – because I was afraid my partner and friends wouldn’t like me anymore if I made more money than them! Isn’t that crazy?
Fear of success is one of my subconscious success blocks – and it doesn’t come from anything that my friends and partner ever said to me. It comes from being bullied at school for being too smart. When I started my business, this subconscious success block resurfaced, keeping me stuck in busy work to protect it me from that experience happening again.
When I broke through this fear of success, I ditched busy work, worked only on the tasks that moved the needle forward for my business, and DOUBLED my income in 90 days – without my friends and partner leaving me and no one bullying me.
You can stay stuck in busy work or identify the block that’s keeping you stuck there, so you can break through it and get the results you want – without the things you fear coming true.
Which one are you going to choose?
Overwhelm Symptoms (And How To Deal With Them)
Here are all the ways overwhelm is showing up in your business and sabotaging it from within – and what to do to overcome it:
1. You Don’t Know What Your Priorities Are
If you’re anything like me, you tend to bite off more than you can chew. You take on three new clients, agree to help a colleague with her launch, say yes to running errands for your family all the time, and sign up for a new online course, too.
You don’t want to disappoint anyone or miss out on anything. And so you try to do all the things – until you overcommit yourself and start dropping the ball all over the place.
This happens when you don’t know what your priorities are. Get clear on that. What do you want to achieve in the next 90 days and what steps do you need to take to make it happen?
Next time a new shiny idea pops up or someone asks you for a favour, ask yourself, “Does this helps me get closer of further away from my business goal?”
If it doesn’t help you get closer, say no. I keep a list of all the things I want to do in the future – when I can dedicate my full time and attention to them.
But what if you have to say no to someone else? As a recovery people pleasure, this habit was hard for me to break. I learned the hard way that, when you say yes to just to please, you end up feeling resentful – and that harms the relationship more in the long run than saying no now. So, I simply tell the person I don’t have the capacity to help them right now and, if possible, I offer them an alternative. Win win.
TAKE ACTION NOW
Grab pen and paper and answer these questions:
- What’s the most important goal you want to achieve right now?
- Why is achieving that goal important to you?
- Based on the answers above, what are your priorities right now? No more than 3. If everything is a priority, nothing is!
- When you’re thinking of taking on anything else, ask yourself: “will this help me get closer to or further away from my goal?” If further away, politely decline.
2. You’re Trying To Do Everything Alone
The more complexity you add to your business, the faster you’ll get overwhelmed. At the start of my business, I had 5 different lead magnets, a dozen different funnels, and created a new programme every few months. It was overwhelming for me and confusing for my audience.
One of the best things I did to grow my business was to simplify. I got clear on the problem I wanted to solve and the people I wanted to help and got rid of everything that wasn’t aligned with that. I now have one lead magnet, one funnel, and one product. Simple and effective.
Does that mean you can never add more products or funnels to your business? Of course you can! But the more things you add, the more help you’ll need to run everything smoothly. You could start with a VA for a few hours a day, but at some point, you’ll have to bring on a bigger team. It’s the price of scaling. Are you ready to pay it?
TAKE ACTION NOW
Grab pen and paper on answer these questions:
- What could you simplify in your business? Think of funnels you could delete, products you could retire, processes you could automate…
- What support do I need to operate my business smoothly, so I don’t feel overwhelmed?
Then do it!
Not sure where to look for support? When you become a VIP in The Leadership Advantage, you’ll get access to my network. Whether you’re looking for a web designer, a business strategist, or a public speaking coach, I’ll connect you to the right person for the job – exclusively vetted by me. Join us here now.
3. You’re Constantly Launching
Launching is a part of business. It’s your chance to draw as much attention to your business and products in a short space and time to get more sales and make more money.
But it requires a lot of time and energy to keep the momentum going for that short amount of time. It’s doable when you do it two or three times a year. It becomes overwhelming when you’re releasing a new product every few weeks or you launch your signature programme too often because you don’t have another sales strategy.
I do believe in launching but you must turn every programme evergreen as soon as you possibly can. It takes away some of the urgency that gets you a few extra sales (but, if that’s the only reason people buy, I can assure you they won’t even open your course!), but it generates a consistent stream of sales and cash flow, so you can have more freedom and stability in your life. The trade-off’s worth it, don’t you think?
TAKE ACTION NOW
If you’re constantly launching, look at ways to turn your offers evergreen, so you can get a steady stream of sales all year long.
4. You Don’t Have Systems In Place
I see so many entrepreneurs still do everything manually. They post every social media post in the moment instead of batch scheduling them. They book every discovery call manually instead of using a booking app. They don’t know where the majority of the clients come from, so they can’t focus on what works and optimise that…
Systems are boring, I get it. But, they save it so much time – time that’s better spent on revenue-generating activities. Plus, when you have the right systems in place, you can predict how many leads you’ll be generating and how much money you’ll be making each month. What would be possible for you if you could make your business that predictable?
TAKE ACTION NOW
What tasks are you doing that could be automated or delegated? Make a list and then start creating a system around it, so it gets done without you having to waste so much time on it every week.
5. You Don’t Make Time For Self-Care
Do you ever think, “I’ll take a break when I’m done with these webinar slides”?
Do you ever stay up late to reply to all your emails?
Do you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at your desk so you can be more productive and get everything done?
I was guilty of all those things. I spent every waking moment working, hoping to be more productive. But, the more I worked, the more overwhelmed I felt. Things never got done and I was constantly playing catch up.
Here’s the deal: you can’t run on an empty tank.
If you don’t put gas in your car when you’re running low, it’s gonna stop and leave you stranded in the middle of the road. The same is true for you. If you don’t take regular breaks, you’re always feeling overwhelmed and tired. Suddenly, a 5-minute task takes 20 minutes to complete. You’re constantly fixing mistakes. And everything else in your life starts to rot, too.
I didn’t realise I was heading for burnout until my coach pointed it out to me and ordered me to get an hour off work to go get a message. I resisted it so much, you thought she’d have asked me to have a tooth pulled without anesthesia…
It worked. When I came back to work feeling refreshed, I was able to get a lot more done in less time.
TAKE ACTION NOW
Schedule a few minutes to an hour of self-care every day. Here are a few ideas:
- Have a bubble bath.
- Paint your nails.
- Meet a friend for coffee.
- Have lunch at your fave restaurant.
- Watch one of your fave movies.
- Go for a walk in the park.
- Play a sport.
- Lie in bed with a good book.
- And anything else that relaxes you and recharges your batteries.
Wrapping It Up
Feeling overwhelmed happens when your actions are not in aliment with your goals and you’re doing too much of the wrong things. This just keeps you stuck in confusion and busy work, doing more and more of what doesn’t work and never getting the results you want. To get out of this vicious circle, get clear on what your goals are, focus on the needle-moving activities, and simplify anything else. You’ll be surprised at how much doesn’t need to get done.