As an entrepreneur and a business owner, there is not enough time in the day for you to accomplish everything you capture and put on your list. There’s business-related stuff, which covers making sure your business is healthy. This includes things like attending to your concerns in marketing, finances and taxes, production, customer relations, legal issues and business permits, social media, blogging, etc.
Then there’s your personal stuff — like your health (physical, mental, and emotional), and the important things that make up your life — your relationships, your family and friends, your hobbies, etc.
In the rush and push to finish what is important and urgent– and the way things go, practically everything that falls into our laps feel that way– some things eventually get pushed to the side along the way.
Peace of mind can become a faint memory.
Focus breaks down into stuttering dribs and drabs.
Energy levels drop. Attention fractures.
That’s what happens when the the To-Do list never ends for the day.
Being burdened with too many things to do is endemic in our world now. The time-crunch and stress has been the driving force behind the productivity movement and all the self-help material written and produced to help us carry the unwieldy and often out-of balance load.
Here we present a few basic ways to deal with the issue, all of which can be used in various combinations or simultaneously for a multi-pronged sustainable solution to the situation.
Address the work-load.
- There is too much to do in the hours you are awake. Make a priority list, and snip off the bottom third.
- Make sure your health and personal well-being is not last on the list that remains.
- Every day is a new day, and new priorities come in to overwrite the old. Step back and look at the bigger picture, reassess the new list, and snip.
Address the balance.
What important thing is left to languish, what is hogging all your attention? When you hurt, look at where you’re hurting. Like a physical injury, you can be required to take a load off and make work-arounds to accommodate the pressure point. Redistribution may be in short order to restore a better use of your energy, time, and focus.
Address the selection criteria.
The problem can lie with what is our ‘normal.’ Apparently, unrealistic expectations and deadlines are the new normal, and promise very little gain for a whole lot of pain. You must ask yourself to check and see whether these are truly your standards, and you have to make the choice to adjust or change to more humane and more realistic, attainable, and sustainable ones.
Stress comes when we are doing what we think we’re supposed to, without stopping to ask if it’s that’s what we actually want for our selves, and why.
Remember your humanity.
You will have crap days. You will have off days. You will have days that will be devoted to other peoples’ needs and agendas.
Make a plan for those days.
There will be days when you’ll feel like you’re stuck in a massive grinder and slowly being chewed up.
There will be days when the whole time you’re awake you’ll feel down to your belly and bones that the entire world is off.
Make a plan for those days too.
There will be days when you want to enjoy the life you worked for with the people who help make your life better.
Yes, plan for those days too.
Suggested help: A Little Toolbox To Combat Stress
It’s the small, determined decisions that can get you through days like this. When you make the effort to step back and forcibly disengage from the aggravation and head-ache of A Bad Day, you can still make small, deliberate choices to make the most of the cards you were dealt. You are not entirely powerless, and you still have choices. You just need to have back-up plans.
Nobody is exempt from having off-days.
Whether it’s internal chemistry spoiling your sleep, giving you a restless night and having you wake on the wrong side of the bed, or external events that just seem like they set off a cascade of hilarious-if-it-just-happened-to-someone-else situations, we all encounter times when we’ll wish we had just stayed in bed — and still, we make ourselves get up because things need doing and if we don’t do them, they just don’t get done.
Small niggling things can act like sand in your shoe– and on long days, they can hurt. Make a plan and act to sweep out these irritations from your life. Plans aren’t only for the ‘big stuff’ — they can help with all the things that are important to you.
Restrict your options to positive ones, even if they feel difficult at the time.
As an example: Your kid needs to brush their teeth before bedtime, but they’re balking. A wily parent can ask,”Do you want to brush your teeth now, or do you want to do it after packing up your toys?” Just as presenting a child two good choices help them decide faster and give them a sense of self-determination, restricting your options to a few good choices helps you keep moving.
Maintain a visually clean work-place.
Mental clutter and visual distractions can still eat at you on a subconscious level, so you can have difficulty settling in or focusing. If you’re not capable of tackling a Big Issue, upfront you can smooth the way out in the small things.
Have a list of secondaries (and tertiaries).
These are small, manageable actionables that you can process in small batches or small blocks of time. They help clear the way for future projects. Use these things as Do-Now actionables when you actually can’t get your mind and your presence settled on the Big Thing you’re supposed to do –think of it as the warm-up before diving in.
Put blinders on.
It’s easy to let our attention wander to distract us from discomfort. Problem is, we can wake up from these distractions hours later without nothing concrete or positive to show for it. For browsing the internet there are apps or plug-ins like Coldturkey or Leechblock.
Do the first thing to jump-start.
Children can be overwhelmed with choices and feel their inexperience contributes to the problem, but we adults know this feeling isn’t isolated to the young. With our experience and personal agency, we can be in a much more viable position to make good decisions. Except that with all our choice, we can still get paralyzed.
Faced with a choice as to what to do with your time, give yourself a few minute to decide and then just make a bee-line for the first thing on your to-do list, just to start the ball rolling.
Don’t beat yourself up for having human limits.
Go-go-go is not sustainable — sooner or later, something will give, whether it’s intangibles like relationships, or tangibles, like your health.
This is where clear priorities come into play. When your priorities are clear and recognized, the steps you choose and the activities that you commit to will be aligned with your goals. This alignment of focus, energy and labor helps you make your way through the sea of various demands, offers, opportunities and interactions that you receive on any given day.
When you do get time to breathe on one of these days– yes, just as everyone has off days, we also have good days, and then we have the unicorns where we have this thing called free time — you can can cordon off part of that block of precious freedom to think about the following:
- The easy way can make for a harder ride later on. Think of “the path of least resistance.”
- The hard way makes for a smoother ride in the long-term. Think of resilience, grit, and determination.
- The difference lies in intentionality and presence.
So often we are besieged — by conflicting demands on our time and conflicting information on how best to go about the things important to us — that we spend most of our working lives worrying about the things we didn’t do (the past) and the things we haven’t done yet (the present) that we fear what would happen next (the future) due to our perceived ‘deficits.’ We are not when we are — we’re caught in the past, and fearing the future. And so we aren’t present in the present.
Potentiality is connected to deliberation. To deliberate is to think over. To do things deliberately is to do them on purpose. If you practice being present in your life, you are bolstered by being fully here and in the now, and so you can choose to make deliberate decisions and actions. These in turn change ‘potentiality’ into reality.
Let’s put things in a more concrete scenario — if you have a top-loading spin-dryer, the instructions are not to over-load it, and to put the wet laundry in the dryer in a balanced arrangement –heavier items go in first, lightest items last. If you don’t, aside from the knocking sound that comes from the uneven distribution making the barrel hit the side-panels, you run the risk of ruining the motor.
With some adjustments, the same principle applies to people. You overload yourself, you carry an unbalanced load, you won’t work efficiently or effectively, and run the risk of burning out.
Take what’s yours. And only yours.
Spend some time to cultivate presence.
Not having enough time in your day is not the problem. There are 24 hours in a day. You really have too much to do.
Make a real record and not just a guesstimate of where your time goes, and think hard about what the results are showing you. Act.
All of the methods here are just a few of the way you can practice to create a sustainable work-load and slowly eradicate overwhelm from your life. You don’t need to do them all at once (you already have too much to do), but what you have now is a place to start. Good luck.
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