Many business owners don't know what to do about the to-do list overwhelm.
Some of the overwhelm of a business owner is caused by the difficulty of prioritizing. All your tasks demand your attention, but you don't know what to do first. You would think this is easy, especially if you're the boss. But, not always.
Alright, so how do you battle the to-do list overwhelm?
Start by writing a simple list. This list may grow longer than you expected because most of us do way more than we realize. Or, we find that there are details to each step on the list that take up more time and effort than we give credit for.
After the list is created, spend a few minutes analyzing each task on the list. Scan the list and put a label on each accordingly:
- Needs immediate attention
- Can be outsourced (and to whom)
- When does it need attention - tomorrow, next week, next month?
Just the simple act of labeling your tasks in this manner will help you get clearer on what you need to do first.
Now, start a new list of just the immediate priorities.
Once you have your smaller list, break down each task into mini goals.
An example of this could be restocking necessary supplies.
Maybe your stock breaks down into units that need to be assembled or built. If that's the case then these might be the steps on your list.
- take inventory of your existing parts
- fill whatever parts are low
- Create the units
- When finished, add to the inventory tracking system
- List for sale.
Or, if you run a digital business like me, the breakdown may look like this.
- Type of product - planner, journal, workbook, written content.
- Graphics to go with that - gather links, download files.
- Am I designing it, or do I need to send the info to my VA?
- Is it done yet? When it’s done…
- List for sale
- Email affiliates with promo information
- List in promotion groups
- Cue emails to a customer list
Something to be aware of is that even within those steps, there can be more steps for each one. For instance, listing a product may require new photos or mockups, writing the description, listing the materials or what’s included, and there may be several steps to finish just in the shopping cart or inventory system.
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That information can lead you to be Overwhelmed by Your Daily To-Do List.
Yeah, for some of us, the fact that there are smaller steps within the bigger steps can begin to feel like a looming mountain of responsibilities that are just going to collapse on top of us, burying us in the tasks needed to run the daily business.
It's not as likely to happen in the beginning, because there is usually a large amount of internal inspiration and excitement fueling the daily actions. But after things turn from the conception phase to the actual process and procedure, that’s when complications and challenges begin to drag you down which leads to that feeling of overwhelm for a business owner.
Why are you overwhelmed?
Well, if your to-do list occupies your every thought, and as a result, you don't know where to start, you’ll become stuck, stagnant, and overwhelmed. That's frustrating, to say the least.
You can picture a litany of tasks on your list that you want to speed through like a movie on fast forward. But, as you start one task, you realize how many tiny steps make up the larger one and how long it takes in real-time. The hours just slip away before you can get all the small details clicked into all the right spots.
At this point, you probably think you’ll never get ahead of the list and you may start to feel hopeless and overwhelmed in your business to-do list.
Some days you might sit at the computer, open one browser window which then leads to two which then progresses to five different logins, then backtracking three of those tasks, because you need additional information, or you needed to take steps that you weren't prepared for.
So now you've got eight things going on at once. But each one of those eight things has set you back 10 paces and it's like you're drowning in incomplete tasks.
If you're feeling overwhelmed in your daily work life, the key is to step away just for maybe 15 minutes. You wouldn't think that leaving all of your work behind would be a way to alleviate an overwhelmed feeling about it all. But that's exactly what you must do if you want to gain focus and clarity and start checking off the items on that list like the true taskmaster you are.
What should you do to take your head out of emergency flatline mode? Remember that overwhelm is just your nervous system going into a fight, flight, or fawn mode.
This is a very primitive mental state left over from our wild days of early humanity when we had to be on our survival game if we wanted to live to see another sunrise.
So for the best results to take yourself out of overwhelm and back into daily productivity, you will want to distract yourself with a grounding activity.
A physically grounding activity might help your brain disengage from that overwhelming feeling. Look through your daily to-do list for anything that might get you to use your hands or body.
Maybe you’re a dressmaker. The first five things on your to-do list are computer related, and then the next six involve talking with people. The next few are using organizational skills.
Those things probably all feel like things you must do, but have you bogged down and feeling uninspired. Instead, do the thing that makes you feel connected to your business, which in your case is probably making things. It doesn't have to be a whole dress, just a small part of a project that helps you physically and emotionally connect to your craft.
The physical aspect can spring your mind and emotions out of that panic mode preventing you from knowing what you should be doing.
What do you do when you start feeling overwhelmed by your daily to-do list? Tell me in the comment section because I’d love to know.