How to take action when you feel overwhelmed

First thing’s first. My Grandma used to say it all the time when I was a kid. Little did I know how useful that phrase would be when it came to running a business. I was chatting with another coach today about overwhelm – that cycle of thinking and thinking and thinking some more about the million and one things on your to-do list, and never feeling like you’re actually getting anything done. We’ve all been there and it’s not very nice. So how can you get out of the cycle and get moving? Here’s my strategy when that feeling hits.

Start with reminding yourself of what you’re trying to achieve. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, the perspective has often shifted from the end result you’re trying to achieve to a list of tasks that need to happen first. Ask yourself what all this work is for? What’s the point you’re trying to get to once it is done?

From that point, work back. What has to happen, broadly speaking, if you’re going to hit that goal or aim? If you’re wanting to grow an online business it might be that you need a great website, a sizeable email list and the right products or services to sell to your audience. If you want to look your best in time for your summer holiday, you might need to change your eating habits and start a new exercise regime.

Figure out your key priority. Which of your broader points is the most important or has to happen first for you to get to your end point? Don’t spend too much time agonising over this question, if you don’t know the answer then just pick any one point to work on first. The aim here is a clear focus – if everything is important then nothing is. Once you identify one area to work on you will be able to build momentum and progress more quickly than spreading your efforts across lots of areas.

Pick no more than three small things that will move you in the right direction. If you’re going to get moving, taking the first small step is making a start. Choose no more than three things that will each take an absolute maximum of an hour. Ideally a lot less – when I’m coaching clients I will often ask ‘what could you do in 15 minutes that will move you forward?’  If you’re building a business this might be drafting an email to send to your list, if you are getting fitter it might be 15 minutes of interval training.

Take imperfect action. Do those tasks in the next 24 hours, to the best of your ability. Let go of waiting for the timing to be perfect and just do the first things first. Once you’ve ticked them off, go again with finding a new first thing.

If you’d like some support and challenge to keep you away from overwhelm and moving in the right direction, I now offer a free coaching experience. This is not a discovery call, it is a chance to experience me and my coaching style for up to an hour. Book here

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