Solopreneur overwhelm is extremely common and not always because solopreneurs genuinely have a heavy workload as single business owners. The overwhelming feelings come from just seeing the long list of tasks you have to get through than the tasks themselves. It’s the big picture of the whole day’s to-do list that’s the killer. Instead, if you were to look at tasks one at a time without worrying about the other tasks in the queue, you’d be okay – more or less. Overwhelm begins in mind as psychological anxiety, which then translates into body stress. Just discard the task list and do only the one thing that begets money for your business. Focus small, achieve big. And read these other valuable opinions of this roundup too!
- Figure out the line between being informed and torturing yourself with details
- Everything looks harder and time-consuming without systems, and workflows
- All the small tasks required to maintain your daily operations add up to overwhelm
- To avoid feeling overwhelmed as a solopreneur, start business as simply as possible
- Write down up to five things to do on your urgent list, but no more than that
- You must set up boundaries to protect your time from clients, family, friends
- Avoid “mind swirl” and create a simple way to to zero in for quicker business results
- Becoming overwhelmed and burning out can put your business at a serious risk
- Having a written schedule ensures that you’re laser-focused and committed
- Your morning routines set the mood for the day – and mid-work breaks revive
- Donât overly stress about your plans – think of them as rubbery and do your best
- Promote yourself mentally to CEO, and start by giving yourself VIP treatment
- We all doubt ourselves often, but we can prevent them from derailing our businesses
- If your message is big and your business small, your audience will still find you
- Just hone in on the one thing with the biggest impact on your business
- Make full use of all the resources and tools solopreneurs have these days
- Overwhelm can be overhyped – you can do many things if you’re multi-faceted
- Spontaneity is great but rhythm is time-tested as an overwhelm-buster
VIDEO: Chris Jones, in this interesting video, discusses: “Are You A Solopreneur And Overwhelmed?” (Must watch: 15:51 minutes)
Chris Jones explains how networking and relationships can and will help solopreneur businesses a great deal. Aiming to involve people into your solo business will actually help that feeling of overwhelm that creeps in when you work alone – and even if you’re working with people on the periphery of your business, having others around you feels like burdens are being shared.
1. Figure out the line between being informed and torturing yourself with details
Sue Allen Clayton in the article “Feeling Overwhelmed With Your Business?”:
“Some people find lists overwhelming, however I prefer a long list over having thoughts swirling through my head. Once an item is on the list, I donât have to think about it again. Currently I have a spiral notebook with an ever-increasing âTo Be Doneâ list.
Having a plan always helps to reduce my anxiety level. When I learned that I needed knee replacement surgery in 2018, having a scheduled date was (surprisingly) better than knowing the surgery was some vague day in the future. Once I knew the date was six weeks away, I created a 6 week calendar to make sure that my work was complete. Following this plan kept my mind focused on actions that I could take, rather than worrying about an event that I couldnât control.
Figure out the line between being informed and torturing yourself with details. I recently purchased a new fridge and the choices were overwhelming! I could have spent weeks doing research. Instead I visited our local Lowes, read reviews on what was in stock, and made a good-enough choice based on my budget and positive reviews.
Itâs easy to accept feelings of excitement and bliss. Itâs much harder to deal with overwhelm, pain and fear. Dealing with tough times makes us tougher. Try to reframe overwhelm into a learning opportunity.â
2. Everything looks harder and time-consuming without systems, and workflows
Maris Lainemae in the article “8 Ways to Simplify Your Business & Go From Overwhelmed to Overjoyed “:
“Do you find yourself reinventing the wheel in your business all the time? Starting with a blank canvas every time you do something? I used to. When I got a new client, I created the project timeline from scratch. Every blog post started on an empty page.
I made everything so much harder and time-consuming for myself because I didn’t have systems, workflows, and templates. People rave about how creating systems and workflows boosted their productivity, and all that hype is for a good reason! Having a system in place not only saves you time but sanity too.
When you have systems set up for each recurring task in your business, you never start from scratch. You never wonder how you should begin. You just get to work.
So how do you set up systems? Don’t try to create a system for everything at once. Take it one project at a time. When you start tackling a new project, write down every step you need to do to finish the project. Refine it, systematize and save it as a template. This can easily be done in Trello and Asana.â
3. All the small tasks required to maintain your daily operations add up to overwhelm
Larry Alton in the article “4 Simple Tips to Succeeding as a Solopreneur”:
“All the small tasks required to maintain your daily operations can add up to overwhelm. Even answering customer service emails can be stressful when you’re on your own.
Use software to automate as many tasks as possible to avoid having to manually do everything. Also, outsource as much as you can.
If you don’t have an accountant, you can use Quickbooks to manage your finances. And even if you’re working alone, Basecamp is a great way to keep track of your tasks and track goals.
While you may not want to outsource your customer service emails, you can use automated replies to let your customers know when to expect a reply from you. People are more likely to be forgiving of having to wait when they know when to expect a reply.”
4. To avoid feeling overwhelmed as a solopreneur, start business as simply as possible
Sep Moblifard in the article “5 Steps to Scale From a Hungry Solopreneur to an Unstoppable Enterprise”:
“Solopreneurs try to do everything themselves. Aside from managing their businesses, they must focus on creating products or services which people will want to purchase. That can be difficult for a solopreneur because they have so many other things to focus on. These distractions make it difficult to perform the proper research needed to learn what consumers in their market are demanding.
If you don’t want to feel overwhelmed as a solopreneur, then start your business as simply as possible. Don’t worry so much about renting commercial property, marketing your website, printing business cards or any other repetitive task. Instead, focus entirely on your industry’s target audience and what they are demanding from companies in that industry. Then create a product or service which matches their demand.
The idea is to put all your energy into creating or offering something that people will want to buy in overwhelming numbers. If you’re selling products, it is OK to hire a manufacturer to create those products for you on a contractual basis. And if it’s a service, offer it to the best of your ability and make your customers extremely happy. When you have something worthy to sell, everything else about running your business will come easy.
Also, there is nothing wrong with working 12-plus hour days to grow your business. But once your business starts making money, you should hire additional workers to help you. These could be freelancers.”
5. Write down up to five things to do on your urgent list, but no more than that
Allie Smith in the article “6 Quick Methods for Dealing with Overwhelm as a Solopreneur”:
“When youâre feeling overwhelmed and your business, here are tips to get your out of panic mode and back into productivity:
Make a list or use Post-it notes and stick them all over the wall of every task thatâs in your head freaking you out. Get out a second piece of paper and write down the must do today things and then on the second sheet of paper, write down what you must do eventually. Write down up to five things on the urgent list, but no more than that. Put the second sheet in a drawer.
I highly recommend learning how to delegate and hiring yourself the help you both need and deserve. This can be as simple as delegating the chores to the kids, the meals to a delivery service, your inbox to a Virtual Assistant. Write down what you could potentially outsource and what you can definitely outsource.
How do you meditate when you just donât have the time? My answer. You need to meditate, especially if you donât have time. Even ten minutes will allow your mind to stretch and find some breathing room. Just sit quietly. I just even have to be the real deal meditation sit there and feel how good or feel to have these tasks done. Itâll be so awesome because you will be so awesome.”
6. You must set up boundaries to protect your time from clients, family, friends
Edina Abena Jackson in the article “How To Reduce the Overwhelm as a Solopreneur”:
“When you have too much work to do, itâs easy to take on something extra, even though you donât have time for it (or donât want it in your portfolio).
If youâre working as a freelancer, then clients who find out that they can get extra work from you for free are more than happy to ask.
And if youâre working for yourself, then family and friends may be so heavily invested in the business that they often call on you to do extra work outside of the original job/project.
As a solopreneur, youâll find there will always be someone trying to take advantage of you. It can range anywhere from clients to friends, and you must set up boundaries to protect your time.”
7. Avoid “mind swirl” and create a simple way to to zero in for quicker business results
Dee Robinson in the article “Go From Overwhelmed Solopreneur To Confident CEO”:
“Over the past several weeks, I’ve interviewed more than 50 entrepreneurs, and I identified two key challenges that they have in getting more clients and taking their business to the next level. The #1 challenge that I heard from every one of these 50 entrepreneurs is that they’re overwhelmed and exhausted. When you run your own business, you have to wear all of the hats – networking, prospecting, social media, sales calls, invoicing and the list gets longer each week. All of these responsibilities create the all-too-common “mind swirl”.
Each of the 50 entrepreneurs I met with have all of these questions and more which create confusion leading to overwhelm and ultimately exhaustion. And running their business like this makes life much harder and causes unnecessary stress and burnout.
The #2 challenge that I identified in these interviews is that they struggle to focus on the few critical things that can move the needle in their business and save them time and energy. Of course, as an entrepreneur, you have so many things to do, and it seems the list just gets longer. It’s almost like when you check one thing off the list you end up adding two more.
And when you start getting more sales, it takes more work to manage it all. That’s the cycle of entrepreneurship. So thatâs the challenge that I identified – they have so many things that have to get done, they have hard time knowing what to prioritize day-to-day. They don’t have a simple way to figure out what to zero in on to get quicker results in their business.”
8. Becoming overwhelmed and burning out can put your business at a serious risk
Esther Snippe in the article “You Feel Overwhelmed And Struggle With Time Management”:
“Becoming overwhelmed and burning out can put your business at a serious risk â you may start underperforming, get sloppy with your talks and tasks, make mistakes, or suffer from crippling mental and emotional fatigue.
Do not lose hope! You are not alone! Many new solopreneurs have gone through this, and there are a plethora of tools you can use to make sure you stay on the ball and have fun doing it.
Start with putting things in perspective by defining what success looks like to you on a daily basis, and know when to call it a day. All too often we look at the overarching goals, and like a marathon runner, just keep pushing until we get there. But no marathon runner starts by running a marathon straight off. It takes practice, and time, and daily goals.
Calling it quits at the end of the day is hard, because every time you finish one task, you see another 10 things you need to do. It is often impossible to do everything in a day. Of course, you could always do better, but if you want to alleviate the risk of burnout, take some time to figure out what enough looks like to you. Decide what you want to do at the beginning of the day. Then prioritize getting those things done.”
9. Having a written schedule ensures that you’re laser-focused and committed
Kristi Veitenheimer in the article “Stress and Overwhelm Arenât Requirements of Building and Growing a Successful Online Business”:
“How can you ditch the stress and overwhelm of building an online business. Easy peasy. Letâs review. Decide whether youâre going paper or digital and get your shiz organized. You might even go with a combination, which is totally fine.
Create a simple schedule with blocks of time. Having it all written down somewhere, either on paper or in a digital format, ensures that you know exactly what to work on each day.
Depending on the areas you struggle with, use some time management strategies to help you stay focused and use your time wisely.
Create workflows to save time and energy. Youâll thank me later.”
10. Your morning routines set the mood for the day – and mid-work breaks revive
Keshia White in the article “How I Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed As A Solopreneur”:
“I like to set an intention each day that it will be an amazing, wonderful day as soon as I wake up in the morning. I don’t check my cell phone until this routine is completed. I start by reading an inspirational book, then I make a short gratitude list, and I pray and meditate. I love starting my day with this because I’m able to intentionally set the mood for the day and I have a clear mind free of worries to begin my work.
Your morning routine can be customized to what makes you feel good. Maybe you go to the gym first thing in the morning or maybe you do a bit of yoga. Do whatever will bring you joy and allow you to start the day beautifully!
I know it can be tempting to think you have to work ALL day without taking a break, but I find that breaks actually make me more productive. I love taking walks at a park near my apartment. Being out in nature clears and calms my mind like nothing else! And I sometimes turn on music that I love for a dance break. I always come back from my breaks much happier and clear-minded.
Think of things you enjoy and prioritize them for your break time. You’ll come back to your work recharged and ready to finish the day strong!”
11. Donât overly stress about your plans – think of them as rubbery and do your best
Thilini Wijesinhe in the article “8 Solopreneur Challenges and Ways to Overcome Them”:
“A solopreneur can get caught up in operational tasks and forget their long-term goals in business and life. So, take time every now and then to consider where you want to be in a year. Then break your yearly goal into monthly goals. Life doesnât go according to plan as we all know, so plans can be flexible. Itâs good to have an idea, however, so you wonât get caught up in the details and miss the big picture.
Once a week, review your monthly goals and make some reasonable weekly goals. Then spend a few minutes each day to make some daily goals. Donât include too many tasks in a day or a week (easily said than done) because it can get overwhelming. Try to stick to two or three main tasks and a few secondary tasks per day.
Even if you are a digital nomad, you can still have a work plan. You may not know your exact travel plan but having an idea of where you want to be in your business and what you need to get done every week, will help you stay organized.
PS: Donât overly stress about these plans. Think of them as rubbery
and do your best.”
12. Promote yourself mentally to CEO, and start by giving yourself VIP treatment
Leigh Wallett in the article “From Fortune 500 To Freelance”:
“I was one of those Fortune 500 employees who caught a company shuttle to an office park. This was prime time for podcasts and fantasizing about life outside the office. Despite my upward career trajectory, I decided to leave the safety net of a salary. I wanted to test my entrepreneurial skills without the plush office and canteen lunch. With a head full of podcasts, Instagram posts, and courses, I launched an online coaching business as a solopreneur in January 2020.
But I quickly realized I wasn’t prepared to handle the overload. As helpful as all the online resources were, putting them into practice didn’t translate into sustainable work. So instead, I turned back to the structure I’d learned in big business.
Promote yourself to CEO. Start by giving yourself VIP treatment. You may not get red carpets rolled out or private jets, but you can take yourself seriously. Get to know your energy. Find a routine that supports you. Nourish yourself with good food. Take breaks for fresh air and exercise.
Most importantly, respect your time. When working with clients and customers, remember the value of your energy. Be strategic with taking on work and clients that inspire you. You have the power to say no to work that may be costing you more than money.”
13. We all doubt ourselves often, but we can prevent them from derailing our businesses
Cat Townsend, in the article “The Doubting Solopreneur”:
“Nothing tests your self belief quite like running a business. Particularly when you are running a small business. And you arenât just the person that thinks up the ideas, but who executes them as well. Recently my self belief was tested when I travelled between the UK and Australia, and failed to factor in the inevitable jet lag and post-holiday blues.
I expected too much of myself too fast, and paid the price. Cue sickness, overwhelm, and a sudden desire to stay in bed and watch Netflix rather than go out and pursue my dreams. The truth is that this isnât an isolated experience. The fact that I run a business at all, hints at the fact that I am an overachiever. I set myself high standards, and if I fail to meet them it can trigger a downward spiral where I question everything.
âWhy am I doing this?â âWho am I to attempt this?â âWhy should anyone listen to me?â
In the past I have let these questions get me down for days, weeks and even months at a time. Confessing that on a public forum goes against a lifetime of habit. After all, arenât I supposed to be portraying myself as a professional â capable and confident at all times? But we all doubt ourselves sometimes, and those feelings and questions never go away entirely. All we can do is get better at preventing them from taking over our lives and derailing our businesses.”
14. If your message is big and your business small, your audience will still find you
Sally Miller in the article “Good News For Overwhelmed Solopreneurs”:
“Are you tired of being told what you âshouldâ do in your business? You âshouldâ be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest. You âshouldâ create blog posts, videos, social media, podcasts. You âshouldâ promote your content.You âshouldâ launch big. You âshouldâ build a large email list. You âshouldâ go big or go home.
But youâre one person. You canât be everywhere and be excellent. Well, I have good news for you. You can have a small business and make a big impact. mall is caring. Small is nimble. Small is passionate. Small can make a big impact. The answer is to embrace small and simple.
You donât need to manage a team. Build complex systems. Be on every social platform. You donât need to write guest posts. Go to conferences. Email influencers. Create more content. You can STOP. Stop listening to the voices. Stop chasing new tactics. Stop looking for a magic bullet. Instead do thisâ¦
Focus on what you love. Focus on what you do best. Focus on helping your people. If your message is big. And your business is small. If you want to do meaningful work. Your audience will still find you. And they will love you.”
15. Just hone in on the one thing with the biggest impact on your business
Tim Rettig in the article “The Overwhelming Pressure of Solopreneurship”:
“Spend a lot of time trying to figure out what few things you can do, that are going to have the biggest impact on the development of your business. Once youâre clear on that, become obsessed with setting priorities.
Choose the three most important things that you can do tomorrow. Then get them done one by one. Block away your time. Refuse to get distracted by anything else. Donât allow anyone or anything to disturb you while you are working on these things. Only once youâve completed them, allow yourself to focus on some âotherâ tasks that need to get done (answering e-mail, updating your website etc.).
Always be focused on impact. Ask yourself: âHow much impact does this really have on my business? Is this something that is going to be making a difference in my business even 5, 10 years later?â
If the answer is no, then itâs probably not an important thing to do.”
16. Make full use of all the resources and tools solopreneurs have these days
David Inskeep in the article “Solopreneur Tips: Ways to Grow a One-person Business”:
“Figure out the times of the day when youâre at your peak performance and schedule your work for clients during those timeframes. This will help ensure youâre putting your best foot forward on the tasks that matter most.
Also, consider using platforms and features that allow you to automate certain aspects of your business. For example, you can streamline social media efforts by composing and scheduling posts with Hootsuite or Buffer. And if you have clients that you bill the same amount to at regular intervals, you can save time by scheduling recurring invoices in QuickBooks.
Just because you donât want to hire employees doesnât mean you canât get help with different aspects of your business. To give yourself more time to work on revenue-generating activities, consider outsourcing tasks that you either…a. arenât adept at, or b. dislike…to freelancers and independent contractors. Some activities you might consider outsourcing include bookkeeping, writing blog posts, and researching (competition, industry, etc.).
Use technology tools to help you keep track of to-dos, deadlines, and important information. For example, block out time on your calendar for all of the projects and tasks you need to accomplish. Also, use platforms like Evernote or Dropbox to save and organize information youâll need to reference later. For keeping projects on track, cloud-based software services like Trelloprovide collaborative features that streamline communication with project partners and maintain all project information in a central place.”
17. Overwhelm can be overhyped – you can do many things if you’re multi-faceted
Sagan Morrow in the article “3 Steps For How To Be A Successful Solopreneur”:
“70% less productive when they feel overwhelmed. Trying to do too many things all at once can lead to a 40% drop in productivity. This information can sometimes get twisted, however â you might think that this means that you canât be multi-passionate and productive at the same time.
How can you hold space for being multi-passionate AND improving productivity? Arenât those things at odds? NOPE. I am super multi-passionate, and it always frustrated me to no end when business gurus tried to force me to âpick a niche.â So instead of forcing myself into a prescribed boxâ¦ I coloured outside the lines. I made my own rules. And I threw the whole âstick to one nicheâ concept out the window.
Nowadays, I enjoy a highly multi-passionate business! I balance my work as a productivity strategist, romantic comedy novelist, and freelance writer with other cool tasks such as sending weekly productivity stories to my email list, releasing weekly podcast episodes on Indie Author Weekly, frequently appearing as a guest speaker on podcasts or at conferences and summits â¦ I like to do #allthethings
And THAT is why I decided to structure my business to empower myself as a multi-passionate creative. My multi-faceted interests are my strengthânot my weakness. And they might just be yours, too.”
18. Spontaneity is great but rhythm is time-tested as an overwhelm-buster
John Delia in the article “3 Ways to Avoid Wasting Time as a Solopreneur”:
“Have you ever thought about the value of a coffee meeting? What may seem like business development could cost you much more than you think. Entrepreneurs often mistake well-intentioned coffee meetings as making progress on your business. If the person is not pulling out their credit card for payment, it is not directly in line with growing your business.
There is a time for strategy, but most fall businesses fail because they donât acquire enough customers in a reasonable time frame â not because of poor strategy.
Time management, time blocking, scheduling, whatever you call it this is the way you manage your time. Yes, as a solopreneur you can wake up whenever you want, but after that, whatâs next? Should you be checking your email right away? Are there any meetings that you planned? Maybe you need to go out and sell.
Spontaneity can be great, but rhythm and routine have been tested over time. When you have a schedule, you are able to maximize productivity because you have an underlying structure and framework. You can keep your schedule via Google calendar or any phone scheduling app, or simply get a paper calendar.”
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
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