Updated: Dec 22, 2022
I learned a lot in the past 20 years as a bootstrapping entrepreneur. I have encountered burnout many times. It's the feeling of having to balance too many spinning plates on flimsy bamboo rods. Worry sets in that you may drop one and the whole lot will come shattering down.
Eventually they will.
These four tips have helped me handle this type of massive, self-imposed pressure. For anyone who is facing a daunting, overwhelming mountain of paperwork, discouraging tasks, messages and emails, life responsibilities, and simply having too many irons in the fire at once, here are some things that have helped me.
1. Why We Feel Overwhelmed
We feel overwhelmed because we look at all the things that need doing as ONE thing….one huge mountain … and we know we have to do all of it. But we can’t!
Our internal self-talk tells us we just can’t do it all!
"There is just too much to do!"
"There is no way I'll ever get all of this finished!"
Stop listening to yourself. You know it’s just a series of tasks in a row. It’s not one thing, but it seems like it is. Rationally you've got this but the emotional grip of the overwhelm hangs on tight, right?
So the very first thing I do when I feel that daunting feeling of having too much to do is stop. I just stop and slow down. Take 4 deep breaths. Then get out a pie
ce of paper and pen…
2. Shift Perspective: Start By Going To The End
My favorite saying is by Stephen Covey. “Begin With The End In Mind.” So the first thing I do is ask myself, What is my end game? Why am I doing all this stuff in the first place? I go to my end goal.
I am doing this because…..
Write down your big picture - take the 30 thousand foot view. Look at the forest, not the trees.
In my case, I am doing this because I want to pursue a lifestyle of person
al and financial freedom and customize and design my life around my passions. I want to help others by passing on what I have learned as an entrepreneur. As a balance seeker, as a lifetime learner. I want to help young up and coming people overcome some of the challenges that I have been able to and hopefully help them to avoid some.
Simply doing this allows me to CHANGE MY PERSPECTIVE. SHIFT MY MINDSET.
3. Where To Start
I can’t tackle everything at one time. (That's why I got overwhelmed in the first place.) I can’t jump to the top of the mountain. But I have to start somewhere.
You just have to get started. In my experience, I find it best to start with the smallest things. The low hanging fruit if you will. “Make your bed everyday” as McRaven put it. When you accomplish one thing and get your first achievement done, it signals something positive in your brain. Then each successive task is easier. It's the law of inertia.
Here’s what works for me:
Write down the tasks that are overwhelming
Break them down into parts based on the critical path ( see critical path in business lingo…basically ordering the tasks that must be done before the next can be accomplished)
Apply the 2 minute rule…If you can accomplish it in 2 minutes, responding to an email, filing a document then do it and get it done.
Pick 2 things and make them mandatory. They must get done. This is how I organize my daily to-do list. I always put 2 things at the top underlined. This keeps the momentum going and creates more wins.
Then start checking them off the list. If you don’t get them all done that is OK. You must however get your 2 things done. Looking back this becomes a huge motivation to yourself. You see accomplishment even if it was not complete, you got 2 things done!
4. Balance Your Time
Usually we make ALL things "have to" do and we perceive them as work and taxing. I overcome this by breaking my task into part work and part fun and passion.
So for every work, or non-passion task I put on my list, I also add fun things that I love to do, like taking a walk or playing guitar.