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Freelancer overwhelm: 7 ways to conquer it in your everyday work life.

Ever feel like there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done? Do you start feeling overwhelmed and panicky as soon as you think about everything on your plate?

If you’re a freelancer or solo business owner, you probably know this feeling well. You’re doing everything you can to try to build your business, while keeping up with all that client work. Don’t even mention that to-do list. You just don’t have enough hours in the day.

Feeling overwhelmed can result in negative emotions such as anxiety, worry or irritability. And it can increase your stress levels, which could lead to even more serious issues with your mental or physical health.

While you can’t add more hours to your day, there are a number of things you can use to help you stop feeling freelancer overwhelm.

Stop living in the future

Let’s be honest – the future is a scary place. Full of the unknown, and probably a lot of imagined problems that may never actually eventuate! In essence, when we look ahead at big goals and everything you want to accomplish, you can be overwhelmed very easily.

Think about what’s happening now instead. Easier said than done, right? It does take practice and consistency, but mindfulness and living in the moment is truly beneficial for your state of mind and your own energy.

Try focusing on one goal and lay the groundwork for that.

If one goal still feels like too much, take a step back and focus on the now. Look at the work you have going on today, or this week. When it’s cleared, then you can go back to your bigger goals.

Avoid multitasking

The truth is that our brain isn’t very good at multitasking.

Our mind is programmed to deal with one thing at a time. So when we try to multitask, we’re rapidly switching from one task to another and back.

We try to multitask because we think we’ll be more productive, but there’s plenty of scientific evidence that shows the opposite is true. Also, when we multitask, we’re not being mindful and fully engaged with the task we’re doing.

Remember that it is ok to say “no”

The temptation is always there to take on more work. However, if you work alone or in a small team, it’s imperative that you watch out for yourself. Spreading yourself too thinly as you work all hours of the day and night is only good for one thing: business burnout.

So first of all:  You are allowed to say no.

It’s a perfectly acceptable answer. It is always an option.

You are not obligated to take on every assignment and every client that blows in. 

Learning how to say no doesn’t mean that you’re a failure, or that you suck at time management. Saying no is the smart way to fast-track your success as you prioritise activities that will bring the most benefit.

Focus on the process, not the outcome

It’s great to have a vision or big goal that drives and motivates us. It gives you a direction for your business and personal life. But when it comes to sitting down and doing work, continuing to focus on a vision or goal can become a problem.

Let’s say that you want to write a blog post. You know that you’re doing this so you can get more customers. You want to use content marketing to generate a steady stream of new leads. You want to hit a million dollars in annual revenue.

But suddenly you realize how much work you have ahead of you. And you start thinking about how many more blog posts you’ll have to write before you see any kind of meaningful result. The task now seems overwhelming.

Instead of thinking about how your blog post is going to help generate a million dollars in revenue, you should focus on the process of writing that one blog post. You should approach it with a ‘practising mindset’ and a skill that you can improve.

Start with micro-actions

Having a micro-goal can give you confidence and help to build momentum. When you’re overwhelmed it can be hard to get started. It’s easier to procrastinate.

So start by setting yourself a micro-goal. Give yourself something so easy that you have no resistance to doing it.

If you’re struggling to write blog posts on a regular basis, set a goal to write 100 words a day. You can do that in 5 minutes.

Got a big project you need to start? Pick one action that you can complete in 2 minutes or less.

You can work on anything for a few minutes. Most of the time, those few minutes will build the momentum you need to keep working and to take the next step and the next step.

Batch your time

Time batching is a time management technique that includes grouping similar tasks together and setting aside a time to complete them all or work on them until a predetermined point of progress. 

The purpose of time batching is to minimize distractions for a workflow that enables concentration, attention to detail, and productivity. 

So take a look at your to-do list, group together similar tasks and set yourself an allotted time to work on that block of tasks.

Delegate and automate

Delegating isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but once you put in the initial effort of setting up someone to assist with tasks that you simply don’t enjoy (for example, your accounting, your social media posting or customer support), you will wonder what you ever did without it!

The same can be said for automation, the initial output of effort will be far outweighed by the amount of time and energy you save in the future. Imagine if you could automate the sending and signing of contracts, invoices, receiving payments, all through a program like Dubsado? 

Do you have any tactics for overcoming the dreaded overwhelm? Maybe it simply means taking a 5 minute break from your desk, remembering that the whole world won’t end if your to-do list isn’t completed by the end of the day.

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