I know, I know. There are a hundred thousand bajillion people writing about productivity and performance and doing research studies and winning book awards and getting interviewed on TV and blah blah blah.
I know because I’ve read a lot of their work, seen them speak, heard their message, listened to their content and, for the most part, I’ve tried it all.
So this post comes to you as a tried-and-true no B.S., Cliff’s Notes’ of productivity for any entrepreneur who must learn the subtle art of self-management.
And, because I know you’re already overwhelmed (otherwise why else would you be reading this? LOL), I’m going to keep this super duper short.
Here are my 5 steps to slaying overwhelm and getting mega productive in your business!
Step 1: Make a giant list of all the stuff that’s stressing you out
Ugh, there is nothing like a great, big BRAIN DUMP. It’s like any kind of dump — satisfying in the way that it leaves you lighter, brighter, and clear. The FOG of overwhelm can often make us think that there is no successful path forward. When you have too much on your plate, or what feels like “too much,” it’s natural to spazz out and want to crawl under a blanket and hide for days… because you ASSUME your only option is failure. And no one likes to fail. There’s plenty of talk about “high-achievers” versus “underachievers” but the fact is we all ultimately want to be seen as successful members of society. It’s a survival mechanism.
So you WILL go into “fight or flight” (or hide under a blanket) panic mode when you think your “to-do list” is rigged against you. YES — this is even true if you made your own to-do list because you are your own boss.
Step 1 — Go ahead and brain dump ALL THE THINGS that need doing by YOU. It will feel real good
Step 2: Decide what can be eliminated, delegated, or procrastinated
The funny thing that I’ve learned after working with hundreds and hundreds of clients is this… SO many of us put stuff on OUR to-do list that not only IS NOT (and SHOULD not) be our job, but we put things on the list that WE CAN’T EVEN CONTROL.
Such as “waiting for an answer on…” OR “trying to make XYZ happen…” But all the things that are not specific action steps you can immediately take (or action in the next 5 days) have no place on your task list. Your job is to go through the list of stuff that’s bugging you and decide what REALLY needs to happen, NOW, and by YOU.
Dad always used to ask — “What’s important NOW?” What must happen FIRST in order to keep things running and moving forward? Start there. Next, get rid of ALL THE STUFF you can’t control and let it go. Whatever higher power YOU believe in, this is where you put those items on their to-do list. I’m often giving things to the Universe because I’m like… well, I *could* stress about this as if stress would force an outcome… OR I could let the Universe handle it for me.
Step 3: Address any emotional baggage weighing you down
Yeah, this matters. If your stress and overwhelm comes from some deep-rooted fear based on stories from the past, old B.S. beliefs that aren’t serving you, or trauma that’s (casually) living in your body and keeping you from taking action, you gotta feel it to heal it, boo!
Maybe you’re afraid it WILL work out. Maybe you’re afraid what people will think of you if you grow your business even BIGGER. Maybe you don’t trust yourself to have or hold onto more money and success? Whatever it is, check in with yourself.
The simplest way to do this is to get quiet and ask your heart “hey, how are you?” Listen to whatever comes to mind. This is the HARDEST thing to do when we’re overwhelmed because we will tell ourselves that we have NO time for it. It’s hard to justify looking within when we’re just trying to manage an endless to-do list of shit. But, it’s actually the MOST important time to do it. You’re just gonna have to trust me on this one.
Step 4: Be kind to yourself
Are you trying to have a ridiculously long to-do list and get it all done because you have something to prove? If so, ask yourself what you’re trying to prove, and to whom?
Sometimes we have too much going on because that’s life. You’ve got work, relationships, family, kids, money stuff, health, trying to take care of YOU while balancing all of it. Life can be a LOT. It’s just as possible to be overwhelmed by good things as it is to be overwhelmed by terrible things.
AND… our desire to do it ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ or check ALL the boxes often comes from some weird place of fear that we are not enough UNLESS we do it this way. Don’t let your business become another proving ground because that cycle only ends when YOU decide to be kind and compassionate with yourself.
Get your task list down to 3-7 items and let it be good enough. You don’t need to be a superhero to be worthy of success or love, my darling.
Step 5: Know thyself, and customize your own success system
Have you taken the Kolbe A, checked out your Human Design, learned your type in The Four Tendencies, Love Languages, Enneagram, Myers Briggs… and on and on? If not, DO IT ALL. (Just kidding, that would be overwhelming AF). But start somewhere and learn more about how YOU work best.
Knowing yourself is KEY in how you will work and function best. For me, I know I am an extrovert (Myers Briggs), high quickstart (Kolbe A), emotional authority (Human Design), and type 4 (enneagram). That means that I thrive on doing MY work, starting and working quickly, but I prefer to do it in the company of others (like co-working)… BUT I have to listen to my mood (thank you, Human Design) and follow it.
This probably sounds like GREEK to you (unless you’re greek or know all these tests and what they mean). Let me break down my productivity system for you to make this more clear and HOW strongly I feel about this being individualized to YOU.
- Time-Blocking — I carve out FULL days for content creation and writing inside my month, and do client calls, team calls, and other leadership tasks on other days. Why? I am a manifesting generator (Human Design) and I need space in order to follow my own pace and workflow. I will not work as many hours as a straight generator and maintain my energy.
- Co-Working Dates — I’m an extrovert and receive energy from being with other people. This means it’s way less painful for me to focus and get work done when I’m not alone. It also helps with accountability if I’m feeling extra resist-y.
- Focus Music & Sprints — I use the focus music app Focus At Will and do 30-minute work sprints. This helps me break up the work day into manageable chunks that feel more fun and less overwhelming. As an emotional authority (Human Design), I can be moody so my system HAS to build in allowances and flexibility for mood as well as tools that help BOOST mood so I can get stuff done even when I don’t “feel like it.”
- Flexibility & Agility — Overall, this is the most important component of my system. High QuickStart (Kolbe A) means that I am often inspired to do new things and take action quickly. I love spontaneity when I feel the spark of excitement over a new idea. That means my system AND my team needs to stay agile because I am a fountain of enthusiasm for new ideas. I can’t beat myself up over this just because someone else does it differently. That would be counter-productive.
Overall, you MUST find your own flow and trust it.
The more you work against your own nature, the HARDER it will be to get things done. Period.
Here are some helpful links in case you want to go take some tests!
I am not an affiliate for any of these, I just love them and think they’re extremely helpful.
Create like you mean it,