Dealing With Overwhelm

14 Dec 2010

The most common form of illness is stress, and with so much to do these days, it’s easy for business owners to feel overwhelmed.

With reductions in budgets, staff cutbacks, competitive pressures and political instability; business owners are forced to take on more and more work, all of which seems vital.

But overwhelm is not a good position to be in when you’re trying to move your business forward. A common response is, “I haven’t the time to deal with it …” which leads to more stress, irritability, arguments, higher blood pressure … the list goes on.

Dealing with overwhelm isn’t complicated and the first step is as simple as keeping a log of all your day’s activities. By keeping a log, you’re better placed to see what you are spending your time on and more importantly where your time is going.

Although you may have a good idea of how you’re spending your time, the fact is, until you actually keep a log and put it down on paper will you actually see the impact. You will find that a lot of the time will be spent on activities that are not bringing value to your business. You will be giving priority to less important areas.

Once you have kept a log for a few days, then you’re better placed to do something about it, and here are a few tips to consider.

1. Decide on the top three things you want to get done. The evening before or at the start of the day, pick the top three things you want to get done. Doing the most difficult or boring tasks first means you will look forward to the easier ones rather than dreading the difficult ones. If you get to lunchtime, and you have already done your top three, guess what that will do for your performance? The tendency is to do everything else first before we attempt our most important things and the things we actually want to get done; the things that will make a difference to your business.

2. Perfectionism. Strive for accuracy instead of perfection, use realistic standards and forgive mistakes. You’re not being rewarded for your perfectionism, you’re being rewarded for your expertise.

3. Email interruptions. Don’t read your email every time your computer beeps to say you have new mail. Turn off the alert system or unplug your speakers. Depending on how busy you are, set aside certain times to read your mail throughout the day and stick to them. Whatever you do, don’t read your email first thing in the morning.

4. People interruptions. Allow time to talk to colleagues and employees, stick to the point and wrap up the brief meeting by standing up and heading for the door. Postpone interruptions and say ‘no’ to conversations if you have to.

5. Not being able to say ‘no’. Ask if you need to make the task a priority before saying ‘yes,’ to a colleague or employee. If it isn’t a priority, then offer to do it later. Before taking on a new commitment, ask yourself if the task or piece of work fits in with your objectives or goals. If it doesn’t, then justify why you’re saying ‘no’. Question yourself before committing to do something for somebody else.

6. Outsource or delegate. If you’re doing work that is not in line with your key talents, get rid of it in some way. Outsource or delegate the work to somebody else. Just because you may think you can do it better and faster than somebody else isn’t sufficient reason to do it.

7. Challenge your beliefs. If you feel something has to be done by you and it can’t wait, ask yourself is that really the situation or are you codding yourself. Who is putting you under pressure to do the things you’re worried about not completing?

That’s my top 7 tips for dealing with overwhelm. What would you add to the list or what has worked for you in the past?

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Paul Davis FCMA CMC
Davis Business Consultants
Business Growth Specialist
Tel: (01) 288 5563

Friday 3rd December 2010, 9:36 am

By Paul Davis

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