Recently, I’ve been struggling with how to talk about a real problem that entrepreneurs struggle with. The problem is, it’s easy to talk about hard things once they are a part of the past, something you can put in a box to handle later on. It’s hard to talk about them when you’re in the midst of them. As the saying goes, it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. It can be hard to see the problem of overwhelm when you’re dealing with the daily symptoms, whatever the cause of the overwhelm is.
Today, I wanted to take some time to really talk about how I handle overwhelm, specifically as a business owner, because it’s something that I know I’m not alone in!
The process of breaking down priorities
I kind of hate the word goals. It brings up a lot of memories of past business failures, and times when I was shooting for something (weight loss, income) and failed to meet them. Goals indicate something final, with a deadline and something very specific and targeted in mind. I’ve learned that in times of overwhelm, goals aren’t what we’re going for. There isn’t an bullseye in the center of the target when you’re struggling to get through. I’m not going to give you one magic, five-point system to make you a master of productivity during overwhelming seasons. That just doesn’t exist.
Instead, I want to focus on how to focus on your priorities during a period of overwhelm. Priorities aren’t goals, they don’t give you a specific result, with steps you must take in order to achieve them. Priorities are a way of shifting everything that comes into our lives and deciding whether or not it’s important to us. When you set your priorities, you automatically eliminate the things you don’t need to fool around with.
When I start to feel overwhelmed, my top business priorities look something like this:
- handle necessary communications for business
- focus on positive, encouraging interactions with my tribe
- keep up with weekly tasks so I don’t fall behind and create more overwhelm
Handling necessary communications for business
One of the best things I’ve ever done to help me experience less cycles of total overwhelm is to outsource and automate as much of my business as possible. I currently am in charge of content creation for my business, and planning – both of those areas are my zone of genius and where I excel. Other areas, like managing email are most definitely not my area, so I hired assistants to help me handle that.
The point is, anything you can take out of your own hands is going to help. You’ll still have to manage pieces, but that’s usually a lot less than what it would have been before. Here are some of the ways I’ve automated my business:
- Meet Edgar – this is the system I use to manage my Facebook groups. I love how with Edgar I can make a series of thoughtful posts that are heartfelt and meaningful, then load them into Edgar to create a long-term benefit for my community. It’s hard to come up with good content to create conversations all the time, so this tool allows me to do it when the mood strikes, then reap the benefits for months afterward.
Edgar doesn’t make replies or respond for me when I need to, but those are quick and easy tasks that I can spend a few minutes a day doing, require much forethought.
- Tailwind – Tailwind isn’t true automation – because it requires me to add posts into my queue, but it allows me to reduce my workload by only working a few days a month to schedule Pins for the blog or for my affiliate marketing, so it means day to day, I’m not having to worry about it. You can see how I use Tailwind here in this free class, Tailwind Mastery.
- I also used Convertkit to add all of my content into an automatic email series that all of my email subscribers get added to. This took some time, I worked in small spurts as I had time and eventually I had grown and added this series until it lasted for over a year.
Focus on positive interactions with my tribe
When I’m overwhelmed, it’s easy for me to “check out” and go dark on my audience because I’m in survival mode. But actually, what I’ve found is that sharing my struggles have really helped me connect on a deeper level with my tribe, especially in our Facebook group. When I’m struggling with depression, or just sheer busyness, I have to remember my tribe members are just other real people like me, and they aren’t going to run away screaming because I had a bad day.
I do try to focus on the positive, because focusing on the negative isn’t going to help anyone, least of all me. I might share about my struggles, but don’t use my group or blog as a dumping ground for my venting and complaining.
Another thing I did to increase the number of positive interactions was to purposefully schedule positive things when I took two of my high-energy weeks and scheduled a year’s worth of social media content.
Keep up with weekly tasks
Most of my weekly tasks are either outsources or automated at this point in my business. Things like social media are some of the biggest interactions I have, and my email marketing is almost all automated at this point, but it wasn’t always. I spent a lot of time dealing with overwhelm caused by the sheer number of tasks I had to handle and keep up with, which is why everything (over time) got automated.
I’ve already covered how I use Meet Edgar to automate my social media, which has saved me thousands of hours of work because it manages multiple Facebook groups for me as well as my Facebook page and Twitter. I spend one week every six months or so and create a bunch of new content to post just to social media, which I add into Edgar’s library. I use it in addition to the old content I’ve already got, and I also update any older content that needs updating. Basically, I’ve got several years worth of content in my Edgar account at any given point, so I never have to go, “Hmm, what will I post about today?”
The other thing I’ve really loved is setting up automated funnels in Convertkit, which helped me in two areas: firstly, as I had time to write emails for new subscribers, I would add them into a sequence, which Convertkit would send out for me. Each lead magnet (or thing that gets people to signup for my email lists) got it’s own sequence. The beautiful thing about automated sequences is that I could sit down and write really helpful and genuine emails that provided lots of value to my tribe, but were heartfelt for me in the moment I wrote them.
The biggest struggle I had pre-automation with writing emails was when I needed to write emails for my tribe but wasn’t feeling inspired or didn’t have time to sit down and dedicate time to write something really helpful. I would rather send out nothing than send out something that wasn’t my best work to my tribe, because really they deserve it, so automating allowed me to do that. I love Convertkit because their visual automations feature is really nice and allows me to “stack” people, so i can walk them through a series of automations long-term, so my work is always building on itself.
Everything else after that is just maintenance – which I use my digital planning software for. It sends me reminders with their app and I really love it. I did some vides on that whole system here you might enjoy them!
I would love to know what you do during times of business overwhelm to help you cope, and what you do when things are slow to help you manage during the busy times.