There are a variety of types of overwhelm. Each kind shows up differently for every person - from the level of busyness in your daily business tasks to the ebb and flow of business volume.
What types of overwhelm are you likely to experience in business?
Let's take a closer look at each type.
Type 1: Overwhelmed with not knowing what to do first.
Right now your business may be moving along slow and steady, while you drum your fingers impatiently waiting for some exciting income and profits opportunities.
While you might not feel overwhelmed at this time, if you don't figure out the right tasks to focus on now, you could be experiencing overwhelm in the very near future.
Or, maybe you are simply overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do with all this free time while you wait for the busy season?
Type 2: Overwhelm because everything's happening at once.
There's a movie about a woman who experiences some type of multi-universal time travel where she's experiencing everything, everywhere, all at once.
The number of tasks you need to complete looks like a wall in front of you that you simply can't see past. Sorting through where to start, which option is most important, and who can help you handle all the deadlines that happen at once is where this type of business overwhelm happens.
That's a different kind of overwhelm than the other, but it's a good overwhelm because it means business is flowing although it might be faster than you think you can handle.
Type 3: Overwhelm can lead to burnout.
This kind of overwhelm stems from a lack of growth mindset and holding on to patterns or systems that just don't work anymore. This leads to burnout. It's the type of overwhelm where you know that you should make changes if you ever want to grow, but you've been working at your business for so long that you don't know what else to do and are afraid of trying new things.
You're starting to feel mentally tapped and drained. It's time to learn new things and try different ways of working. But because this overwhelm has been with you for a while, you're derailed by it. You simply don't have the mental bandwidth to absorb new information.
Type 4: Overwhelmed with putting out daily fires.
The fourth kind of overwhelm involves small daily crises in your business. You've got jobs that need to be taken care of every single day, rituals and routines that represent the lifeblood of your business. But instead of focusing on these, you end up running around putting out fires, correcting other people's mistakes, or worse, your own!
You're working endless overtime and just feeling like you're being ground down to nothing. The daily fires in your business make you feel like a hero... but they're really just damage control. In terms of productivity, damage control is the bare minimum. All because you can't seem to get a handle on the daily tasks that make your business run.
Let's explore how to handle these types of small business overwhelm. Hopefully, this can help you lose that feeling of being lost in your own daily responsibilities.
How to Handle Overwhelm that Results When You're Close to Burnout
Listen, even the most motivated and successful business owners can experience burnout. Maybe it shows up because you've come too close to the daily operations of your business, or maybe because you're overworked and honestly need a break.
Burnout definitely happens when you've been doing everything all by yourself. That's one of the biggest reasons for feeling overwhelmed.
The daily to-do list that never ends will eventually sap you of your creativity and joy when you sit at the computer or head to work each day.
When productivity suffers, the quality of your work goes out the window. Now, you're fixing your mistakes from burnout and losing customers over the dip in quality of work.
Take a look at these steps for managing the overwhelm in your business so it doesn't lead to burnout in your business or personal life.
Give yourself a break.
Can you find someone like a VA to help with some of the daily tasks? Ask business friends for referrals.
If you can't, tack up a temporarily closed sign. It doesn't have to be a literal sign, especially if you're running an online business.
Just let your customers know that you're going to be away for a bit, or add an autoresponder to your emails. You don't have to say why.
I've watched my long-time partner live his life in and for his local shop. He doesn't vacation and rarely takes time away even for scheduled vacations, no matter how much his employees tell him to go away.
It's so refreshing to step away from your business even for just a weekend and not think about your business. Many small business owners don't realize how powerful it is to shut off their business brains. It's a great way to avoid overwhelm and burnout in business.
Try a change of scenery
So, even if you can't take a real vacation, can you change your office for a day or two?
Take your laptop to the park, library, or coffee shop. Working in different surroundings can give you new ideas and rid you of distractions you might not even be aware of.
In fact, as a result of your recent new change of scenery, you might even experience a shift in perspective. This will be great for helping you work through your business challenges and set and achieve new goals.
Make a list
Write down a list of your daily responsibilities. Also, write down who is currently in charge of each thing and what's involved. If this is a solo operation, then you won't have to write down who's in charge because clearly, it will be you. But you might have workers or temps who step in every now and then to lighten the load. Designate and delegate.
Steps to break down tasks and avoid overwhelm in business
- Write down each aspect of the daily business operation.
- Then break down each task into smaller steps.
- Come up with a way to streamline the task, automate the task, outsource the task, and/or eliminate the task.
This may take several sheets of paper or you could use a digital journal. Once you do this you can work on the next phase of carrying out each of the detailed plans that you made for reducing the daily workload.
Creating automated tasks can decrease overwhelm in business
What's an example of an automated task?
Let's say that you write every email to your customers from scratch. Creating a library of communication templates would be a really smart thing to do if you want to reduce the busy work you do every day.
The difference between working at a job and working for yourself in your own business is that you can now see the great value of your time, which you didn't see before.
There are definitely ways to free up your own time for higher-yield pursuits. You just have to figure out what ways work best for your business.
So, having communication templates available for both you and your team members can save a lot of time for everyone and free up hours in the day that can be spent on developing other aspects of your business. But that's just one example of many ways to automate daily tasks.
What solutions can you find that work for your needs?