Do you have too much to do? Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Believe me, I’ve been there. I’ve been a mom for more than half my life (19 years now) and with five kids at varying ages, plus my own business to run, I have no shortage of things to do. I’ve learned over the years to prioritize things and to schedule my time better, and also not overcommit. I always play it safe rather than sorry when it comes to deciding how much I think I can do on a given day/week/month.
That said, we can all get overworked from time to time. Maybe you misjudged the amount of time you had. Perhaps an emergency came up. Whatever the circumstances, we all get into positions sometimes where we have too much to do. The real key lies in knowing what to do about it when this happens. Prevention is great, but sometimes we just get booked up, and knowing how to navigate this stressful time is very important.
So, what do you do when you have too much to do?
The first step should be to stop and take a deep breath. Don’t get so overwhelmed that you’re unable to take action. This is a great time to practice mindfulness. As soon as the feelings of overwhelm start to come in, just stop and go through mindfulness exercises. You can do it anywhere at any time. Then, consider the following steps to help you when you have too much to do.
1. Prioritize and Delegate
Your first step is to take inventory of all you have to do. Then, you can prioritize these tasks and delegate the ones that can be done by someone else. If making time to get the tasks ready for your assistant means she helps you with things, do that first. Are you in a position to outsource anything else, like your social media? Make a list of all the tasks you have to do and put them in priority order. See if anything can come off or get moved to later. Sometimes you just have to put things on the backburner to focus on the very important first. Don’t try to “catch up”. You’ll always feel behind and exhausted. I did this for years and it gets you nowhere.
Learning to discern what is truly important and can’t wait from what can be put off or just canceled altogether gets better with practice. It’s okay if it feels uncomfortable for you at first. As you get better and judging yourself and how much time you need to do things, you’ll get better at it. You also need to practice saying no and limiting your commitments so you don’t get overwhelmed as often.
2. Take It in Bite-Sized Steps
You also need to take it piece by piece. This can be the hardest thing to do when you’re already behind and overwhelmed. You may feel like you need to do ALL. THE. THINGS. Instead, determine what you can do in bite-sized pieces each day and just work on it one thing at a time. As long as you still feel like you’re running two weeks (or more) behind, your mindset will not be right. When you overbook your schedule, giving 5 days worth of tasks to one day, you’ll never be able to complete that and it makes you feel like a failure. Be reasonable with your expectations of yourself. How much can you truly handle per day? Be very honest with yourself about this and leave some wiggle room for unexpected issues that could arise.
3. Work on Expansion Each Day
And no matter how busy you are with day-to-day business tasks, always devote at least a little time each day to grow your business. If you can, I’d choose 30 or 60 minutes as a time slot, and make sure you do something toward those new ideas every day. If you’re behind anyway, what is another 30 or 60 minutes really going to hurt, right? You have to make the time because if you wait for it to fall in your lap, it will never happen.
Or worse, you might accidentally manifest more time on your hands. I was in the same position a few years ago and feeling frazzled and like I’d never get to all the things I wanted to do and then I broke my leg in three places and ended up off my feet for months… The Universe literally had to break my leg to get me to slow down and focus. Don’t be me!
4. Don’t Forget Your Self Care
Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself. This can really be one of the most important things you ever do for yourself in your business and your personal life. When you’re running behind and you have too much to do, it can be easy to put your own needs on the backburner. It may even feel selfish to stop and do things for yourself, but it’s really not. You know that old saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup!” It’s absolutely true. You can’t even begin to dig out of a backlog or overcome overwhelm if you’re not taking care of yourself. There are lots of different ways you can practice self-care. It’s not all bubble baths and massages. You can find self-care practices that work for you and use them each day.
So tell us in the comments: What do YOU do when you have too much to do?