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How to Deal with Overwhelm as an Entrepreneur

All entrepreneurs have undoubtedly felt it – overwhelm.

You have so many things to do, places to go, emails to return….so instead of starting any of them you decide to go eat ice cream instead of tackling any of them.

You can’t really enjoy the ice cream because you feel guilty for not being productive.

That’s where I was 2 days ago; feeling so overwhelmed I didn’t know what to do next. That sucks.

Here’s what I did to get to the other side of overwhelm.

I’m sharing it with you because you should always enjoy ice cream.

 If you're an entrepreneur, overwhelm can seem commonplace. Here's how to get through it and get back to crossing those items off your to do list.


How to Combat Overwhelm

1 – Get it all out of your head

Put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and write down all that stuff that’s rattling around in your brain. Do a massive brain dump.

Whether it’s a list of things you need to do, ideas you’ve had for your business, appointments you have coming up, or even something that worries you – write that stuff down. All of it. Until you don’t know what to write any more.

In the end, you’ll have a massive archive of all those thoughts.

Sometimes just emptying your brain can be all it takes to deal with overwhelm. For many years, I practiced writing morning pages, an exercise from the book (affiliate link) The Artist’s Way. It is basically clearing out those pesky thoughts first thing in the day so you can be more creative and productive during the day.

(Note to self: consider putting this action back into practice.)

Whether you do a brain dump daily, weekly or monthly, you’ll get results.

2 – Organize it

It’s important to note at this point your writing is not your to do list.

What you have amassed crossed several categories.

At this point, we’re going to have to separate them out.


Go through your brain dump and look for items that have specific times, like meetings or doctor’s appointments. Put them on your calendar if they’re not already there.

Time Bound

Next, look for thinks that may not be a one-time appointment, but still have a timeline attached. For example, a client project with a deadline. What is the associated due date? Write that down next to it.

Other Categories

At this point, you’ll probably see specific categories emerging from your list.

Likely categories could be business, family or home related.

Assign a category symbol or each idea or item in the dump. For example, but “Biz” next to each business entry. Go through the entire brain dump and assign each a category.

3 – Make Your Final Lists

Now we’re going to separate out this coded mess into a better format.

Start a new sheet of paper or a new document for each category. If you’ve jumped on board the Bullet Journal train, you could start new entries for each category.

I like to start with the non-time bound items that can be easily categorized. For example, getting new living room curtains may be something I’ve been thinking about every time I walk past it, but it isn’t imperative to do it right now.

Before you even re-write your entry into its category, ask yourself if it really even needs to be on the final list. Sometimes you may find things that were rattling around in your brain weren’t even worth the energy.

4 – What are the top 3 tasks to tackle first?

This is the real point where overwhelm fades away.

Pick the next 3 items that need to be handled. Not four, not six – three!

As these three priorities emerge, you should feel more confident in the next actions to take. Tackle those 3 items.

Tomorrow, handle the next 3. And so on.

Doesn’t that feel better?

Now go enjoy your ice cream.

How do you handle overwhelm as an entrepreneur?

Megan CorwinComment