Do you get those days when you feel completely overwhelmed?
When you want to put your head in your hands and cry because you feel like you’re the only one trying to do it all (and not succeeding)?
When you have a long list of things to do, and they’re all important but you just don’t know where to even start, and the more time you spend flapping and flustering, the longer the list gets, and you don’t know who to ask for help, and they’re probably all too busy anyway, and it’s getting close to 5pm and you really ought to get this email sent out but you also need to make sure everybody has confirmed their attendance for the training course but if you don’t get that train from Cannon Street at 5.40pm, you won’t get back in time to eat before running club tonight and you’ve still got to wash the PE kit. And ….
If that’s you, you are in overwhelm ‘rabbit in the headlights’ mode. The first thing to do is stop. Stop. Deep breath in. Breathe out. Relax your shoulders.
Now tell yourself “It will be OK. The overwhelm will pass.”
That’s exactly how my client Anita felt when she called me last night.
A tale of two styles
Two weeks ago, we spent the day together. Anita is an image and style consultant. I had been recommended to her by another business owner.
To be honest, I was nervous about meeting Anita. I am NOT your ideal image and style consultant client. I love nothing better than running around in the woods, splashing through muddy puddles and coming home hot and sweaty. A quick shower and my idea of ‘dressing up’ is to put on a clean sweatshirt and jeans.
Whereas Anita is beautifully presented. She looks immaculate. She worked in the fashion industry for 20 years. She worked as a clothing buyer for M&S and then Austin Reed. She has been Style Editor for a lifestyle magazine. She has been invited by L.K. Bennett to talk to their customers about colour next week.
So it was with some trepidation that I agreed to work with Anita as I felt I was stepping out of my comfort zone. However the business confidence principles are the same, no matter what your business is.
A year is too much
In our day together, we got clear on her goals for the year as well as her quarterly, monthly and weekly targets.
Then we mapped out the plan for the next 12 months including workshops, key events for editorial content, her CEO 90 Day Reviews, promotions and research. This clarity gave her the confidence to create an editorial calendar for the next 3 months.
At the end of the day Anita had a clear list of actions (I took away several too); a mixture of quick wins e.g. automate the monthly Inbox Outfit emails and longer-term strategies (remember to ask for referrals).
It’s all too much
Anita called me up last night “It’s all too much Sherry. I am fully booked this week and it’s too much. I can’t get anything else done. I don’t know what to do.”
At first I was puzzled “That’s fantastic. Fully booked, well done. That’s what you want, isn’t it?”
“Yes but how am I going to get everything else done? How am I going to work ON the business when I’m busy IN the business? I haven’t done anything on the action plan.”
Clarity leads to overwhelm
Sometimes clarity leads to overwhelm. Because you see what needs to be done. You understand your strategy. But just because you know what needs to be done, it doesn’t mean it all needs to be done at once.
Here’s what I suggested to Anita:
- Focus on the quick wins.
- Ask yourself “what’s the ONE thing I can do this week to take me one step closer to my goal”
- Block out time in your diary dedicated to specific activities.
- Take ‘me’ time and look after yourself.
- Declutter your brain: take a blank piece of paper and offload your thoughts, ideas onto that blank piece of paper.
- Talk it through with somebody who’s a good listener.
After talking it through, Anita realised that she doesn’t have to do everything NOW. Instead she can focus on just one thing at a time – and that was a huge relief.