Friday, 16 September 2016

How To Overcome Procrastination And Overwhelm

There are many wonderful benefits to running your own business. Unfortunately, there are also a few downsides. As your own boss, you have nobody to motivate you. You have nobody to hold you accountable if you procrastinate. Sometimes it feels overwhelming doing everything yourself.

If you ever find yourself procrastinating or feeling overwhelmed, by everything, you need to do in your business, don't worry, this is very normal.

We all hit these periods of procrastination and overwhelm in our business.

Like everything in life, our energy and passion for our business naturally waxes and wanes. Often, we will feel incredibly motivated for a couple of months, focus everything on our business and then suddenly find our energy disappears. Don't panic when this happens. It's natural. The best thing to do, is to accept that sometimes you need to take a step back and relax a little. If you try to keep going at full speed during these low energy periods, you will simply extend the unproductive period and feel anxious about it. Take time for yourself to relax, spend time with family and friends, go on holiday and you'll come back to your business with renewed vigour.

As well as natural energy fluctuations, a period of procrastination and feeling overwhelmed, could be because your heart is not really in the work you are trying to do. Ask yourself honestly, is this something which lights you up? Do you have passion for the work you are doing? Or are you doing it because you think you should be? If it's the latter, then what else can you be doing? Take your business in a direction which fills you with excitement.

There will be times when our motivation is lower, our stress is higher but we cannot take a step back. There will be times when it is business critical to get things done.

There are various tools and techniques you can use to overcome procrastination and overwhelm.

Keep a 'To Do' list. This means that all your tasks are recorded and you will not feel overwhelmed by having to remember everything. Regularly review your To Do list and ask yourself the following questions for each item:

  • Will this generate an income?
  • Do I enjoy it?
  • Am I obliged to do this (e.g. legal requirements / tax affairs)
When the answer to all three questions is no, then get rid of the task. 

With the remaining tasks, are there any you can outsource? These days you can outsource almost all business and personal tasks, often for a very low cost. 

Now, you are left with a much more manageable To Do list. Hopefully this exercise of eliminating many of the tasks will enable to feel less overwhelmed. 

Make sure you are finding time everyday for some exercise and meditation. Both are great for minimizing stress and that sensation of overwhelm.  They also help you to be more focused. 

Once you have eliminated many of the tasks from your To Do list, it is time to get laser focused. 

Before you go to bed at night, choose a maximum of three tasks from your To Do list, which are the most important ones to get done the next day.  No more than three or you will start to feel overwhelmed. 

When it comes to the next day, focus on each task one at a time. Do not attempt to multi-task. Choose your first task of the day. Ensure you are working in a good environment. Limit the time you have available to work on this task. This might sound counter-intuitive, but limiting the time you have available increases your productivity.It prevents you from wasting time on Facebook or travel websites (maybe that's just me!). Work on your first task for a set amount of time. Then take a break. Go for a walk to clear your mind, have something to eat or do some exercise.

For example, a typical day when you want to overcome procrastination and overwhelm could look like this.

20 minute meditation session
Task one for 40 minutes
Have some lunch
Task two for 40 minutes
Go for a walk
Task three for 40 minutes.

Work with your own circadian rhythm. If you are a night owl, then do your most creative tasks late in the evening. If you have maximum concentration span of 20 minutes, then perhaps do six 20 minutes sessions rather than the three 40 minute sessions advised above. If you are more focused after eating then plan your most challenging task after lunch. We are all different. Listen to your own body and notice your own energy levels.

We'd love to hear how you overcome procrastination and overwhelm. Please do post in the comments below and share with others what works for you.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 7


  1. Your 'three questions' approach to reviewing the day's To-do list are great!

    Just by getting rid of nonessential tasks frees up a good chunk of time, devoting it to the tasks that really matter. Good advice!