As a solopreneur, it’s common to feel scattered, unfocused, and overwhelmed. Or to over-extend yourself only to feel like there's not enough time for everything you have to do. Can you relate? Here's the good news — you can avoid overwhelm by planning and creating simple processes so that business is easier.
You juggle so many projects, tasks, and responsibilities, it would be a miracle if you didn’t feel that way some of the time. But, this doesn’t mean you need to stay stuck in those moments of overwhelm.
In fact, there are many steps you can take to avoid overwhelm in your business through planning and having a process.
Strategies to Avoid Overwhelm in Your Business
In this post, I’m going to show you exactly how you can grow your business and avoid personal and professional overwhelm through careful organization.
1. Set Realistic and Firm Boundaries
In my experience, this is something so many solo entrepreneurs really struggle with.
We get into the habit of working, giving, responding, and helping nearly 24/7—whenever the need arises. You are at everyone's and everything's beck-and-call.
While admirable, the problem with helping people unquestioningly is twofold:
- You are training people how to treat you, and
- This will make you a prime candidate for burnout
For this reason, it’s SO important to set realistic, firm boundaries around your time and resources.
Some ways to do this include:
- Having set office hours, even if you work from home
- Turning off email and social media notifications—your tools work for YOU, not the other way around
- Having set times during the workday when you check and respond to emails
- Deciding how much help and advice you want to offer for free, and where it crosses the line into paid help—and then clearly communicating this to your clients
When you set clear and healthy boundaries, you'll find that you have more time to work ON your busniess instead of always working like an employee in it.
2. Establish Systems for Recurring Tasks
Having systems in place for your day-to-day tasks and procedures will go a long way to avoid overwhelm in your business.
Once you have systems in place for these tasks, it becomes much easier to hand them off to your team members or to outsource that work.
- save you time
- prevent you from forgetting important steps in a process
- increases efficiency
- makes business easier overall
Instead of wondering what needs to be done, you (and your team, if you have one) are free to simply follow the processes and systems you already have in place. The added benefit is you avoid feeling overwhelmed in your business by planning out your processes.
For more guidance on how to create systems in your business, check out my post, How to Systematize Your Small Business to Have More Freedom and Flexibility.
3. Use 1-3-5 Lists to Set and Crush Goals
I’m all for to-do lists, but not “do-all-the-things” lists. It will serve you much better to give your lists a little more structure. That starts with being mindful as to what is on the list in the first place.
I do like the app 1-3-5 lists. It works like this, choose:
- 1 big task,
- 3 medium tasks, and
- 5 small tasks you want to accomplish
That's it. If you're not into the tech, then use paper.
It's about the method, not the vehicle. And this method helps to prioritize the work that needs to get done every day. And it's better than a typical to-do list because it forces you to be super intentional.
I am a big fan of only doing work that matters to achieving my goals. No one should be doing unnecessary work. Yes. That means you, too!
4. Have a Plan for Removing Distractions and Staying Focused
The first strategy I shared was to set some clear and firm boundaries around when you’re going to work.
Unfortunately, unless you’re also minimizing your distractions while you work, your office hours may not be all that productive. EEK!
One of my favorite methods for staying uber-focused and on-task is the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that use a timer to break work into intervals, separated by short work breaks.
The traditional structure looks like this:
25 minutes work + 5-minute break + 25 minutes work + 5-minute break
Here’s how you put the technique into practice:
- Start by deciding which specific task you want to get done (grab one from your 1-3-5 list!)
- Set a timer for 25 minutes, and work steadily on ONE task during those 25 minutes
- Take a five-minute break (and that doesn't mean to do other work)
- Continue working on your task from the previous session or begin one new task for 25 minutes
- Five minutes of break time
- Repeat steps 1-5 for three rounds after which you'll take a longer, 25 minute, or longer break
Sounds easy, right?
The key, however, is that during those 25 minutes you will ONLY work on that one task, and you will work your little heart out! In other words, FOCUS!
No checking email, no web browsing, no social media, no answering phone calls—nothing.
This process produces the following benefits:
- reduce wasted time
- improve your time management skills
- enhance your focus
- increase your efficiency
When You Plan You Can Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed
Here's the bottom line. You can absolutely avoid overwhelm in your business by planning. A little forethought and extra work upfront can save you heaps of time and frustration in the long run. That is to say, taking an extra hour now will save you many hours later. That leaves more time for freedom, family, and fun. And who doesn't want that?
UPDATED on March 21, 2022