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Is Small Business Overwhelm Sucking The Life Out Of You?

By Leslie Hassler

May 9, 2016

productivity leaks

small business overwhelm? The feeling of being overwhelmed can cause mental, physical, and even spiritual anguish if you allow your business to negatively take over your life.
A recent Forbes article states that the number one sign you need a business coach is the feeling of overwhelm.
Everyone knows this kind of stress. It can almost feel like panic when you realize that you’re running in place while thoughts about your tasks, goals, communication and responsibilities engulf you.
The worst byproduct of overwhelm — maybe even worse than trying to engage in too much activity — is shutting down completely. Unless you’re taking some intentional time off for rest or rejuvenation, a complete shut-down is a sign that you’re not going to make it as a small business owner.
Anxiety that shuts down your ability to choose is the beginning of the end, and probably why so many businesses fail within 5 years of starting. The owner feels like she can’t get her head, heart, and arms around everything there is to do.
You priorities are out of whack if your business is sucking the life out of you. A healthy business should keep you busy, yes, but it should also feed your soul and put money into your account.
What’s causing you the most intense feeling of overwhelm? If you can identify this, then you’ll know which problem to tackle first.

  • Is it the people around you? The people you encounter in your business — colleagues, vendors, and employees — should be people you ultimately enjoy. If they’re not, you’re making some bad choices.
  • Is it your finances? Your understanding about your money (where it’s coming from and where it’s going) should be predictable and clear. If you’re confused about your income and outflow of cash, the stress piles up on top of every other issue.
  • Is it your actual workload? Most small business owners try to do everything themselves, which is a big mistake. As soon as possible, your job should be to hand off some work.

Whatever you decide is the primary culprit, if you’re feeling super-stressed and overwhelmed right now, you need some perspective:
overwehlmed? consider hiring a coach
Before losing heart, realize that you’re not alone! Sometimes being overwhelmed is the beginning of a quest to take over the reins in your business for good. (link to article)
Overwhelm hits by varying degrees, and it can be the push you need to kick start something better. When you absolutely must quell it ASAP, try the steps below. They usually help get you through the worst of it.

  1. Decide what absolutely must be done this hour. Whichever is the most haunting, daunting, or imperative open loop right now; deal with that one first so you don’t lose your mind.

I find the most urgent task (the one that’s causing the most immediate stress) typically involves a response someone is waiting on you to deliver. You may need to talk with a client, or respond to a request for information. Do this, and save the planning of any new projects for another day. The sooner you quell that urgency, the easier it is to breathe and plan your next steps.

  1. Another immediately calming thing you can do that takes loads of stress off you is to clear your desk.

Create a space to work just for now. I’m not talking about overhauling your filing system just yet, although you may need to do something like that in the future. Just create a visually calming space, even if it’s small, so you can decide what to do next and have a place to do it. Visual overstimulation stops many people from doing the next, smartest thing.

  1. Finally, and most importantly, please know that you will never be done. No one ever gets caught up.

People are always filling their minds with new intentions and impulses. It’s just the way we are wired. If we were birds or flowers, we wouldn’t be running businesses, so accept the fact that human beings, especially business owners, will always have something they need or want to do. You absolutely must grow comfortable with this reality.

I hope these three steps stop the heart palpitations and regulate your breathing again!

Believe me, I’ve been in that spot where I just wanted to collapse or run away. Even business coaches and experienced business owners who are “supposed” to have their act together, can experience intense physical and mental overwhelm on the most trying days.
The last thing I want you do — before scheduling a call with me (wink) — is to remember why you wanted to have your own business to begin with. Sometimes, just remembering your dreams and your big WHY are enough get you through the day.
Don’t forget, it’s going to be OK; you just need some support. Have a look through some of the articles here, make a plan for action, and before long, you’ll be on your way again.

Leslie Hassler

About the author

Leslie Hassler is a popular author and speaker who spends much of her time coaching business owners on how to run their growing businesses by their rules. Delivering high-touch, personalized service, Leslie works with her clients as a partner, not just a consultant (who would pop in, tell you what to do, then leave).

Leslie teaches her clients a structured way to decide what to do first, second, next -- and never – in their businesses, so that they can learn to do it for themselves. Leslie lives in Dallas with her husband and two kids, so she knows it’s not just about growing the business – it’s about getting the business ship shape so it grows and you can be home in time for dinner.

Leslie speaks on topics such as business leadership, prioritizing the business owner’s To Do list, and how to create and implement a strategic plan for growth.

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