Solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and founders of early stage startups and businesses are frequently overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to get done. Being overwhelmed is a state of mind that is not always firmly planted in reality. It’s a direct result of the choices and actions that we take. There are several strategies for managing choices and actions that can ease these feelings of overwhelm.
If you’re one of the many who are overwhelmed, keep reading to learn about strategies to help you alleviate overwhelm, your workload, worry and stress.
1. Develop a Realistic Action Plan
Many solopreneurs and entrepreneurs are “idea people” and right-brain thinkers. They have an endless supply of innovative ideas for product, customer acquisition, and brand awareness; but they forget one of the most important strategies, which is to get these ideas into a system. They successfully build a business plan and a prototype – and perhaps they’ve sought and obtained investment from angel investors, but many fall short on implementation because they fail to develop a comprehensive action plan. They have too many ideas in their brains, but not in a well-structured plan, which leads to overwhelm over the number of things they need to do to get things done.
When you start your business, simplicity is key. It’s important to make a plan of action, but focus on the execution. Understand your long-term goals, and build an action plan for the first 30, 60 and 90 days based on those goals. Your plan should include the tasks, costs and schedules required to achieve the objectives of the business plan. Our advice is to use a mobile solution such as LifeTopix to record your goals, projects and tasks – and to store supporting information about those projects and tasks.
2. Trust Your Instincts to Make Decisions
Theodore Roosevelt once said,
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Solopreneurs and entrepreneurs make a variety of decisions every day and this can be overwhelming. Some take longer than others to make decisions – listing the pros and cons of their options; examining the data; and weighing their options. Decision-making takes time and energy, and when you’re starting a new business, you don’t have historical data to do a complete cost/benefit analysis.
Let go of overwhelm by trusting yourself. Your perseverance, intelligence and ingenuity got you started – now trust it to help you make the best decisions for your company. Take a test and learn approach. Trust your gut and instincts to help you make decisions, and stick with them until the data tells you otherwise.
3. Overcome Fear of Failure
Many solopreneurs and entrepreneurs suffer from fear of failure. It’s a natural feeling and no matter who you are, you’ve felt it in your life. Often times, fear of failure can cause anxiety and hold back progress. In fact, according to the article Fear of Failure by Timothy A. Pychyl, studies show that higher fear of failure leads to procrastination. As a result of your fears, procrastination leads to overwhelm because as you let things go, too many items pile up on your plate.
There are several strategies to overcome fear of failure, but first and foremost, you must have confidence that you’re doing the right things, have the right skills to do them, and know what it takes to achieve your goals.
4. Supercharge Health, Energy and Focus
Entrepreneurship requires strong energy and focus. Giving into distractions and shiny objects destroys focus and promotes overwhelm. Just like most things in life, developing good life habits that stimulate your energy level supports focus.
There are several ways to improve focus; however, some simple changes are to consume brain foods, exercise and learn to meditate.
The best brain foods contain omega-3 fats, and flavonoids and nonflavonoids (anti-oxidant compounds). Berries, salmon, avocados, walnuts, olive oil, spinach, dark chocolate and garlic are good choices. Limit partially hydrogenated oils, refined sugar, fructose, carbohydrates, gluten and processed foods.
Exercise is proven to improve focus, energy and attitude. The proper amount of exercise is debatable; however, guidelines from health organizations recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
These days, even western doctors recommend meditation to reduce stress, to improve focus and to promote better sleep habits. You can learn more about the benefits of meditation from the Mayo Clinic.
5. Get Support from Others
Much of success develops from having the support of your family, friends and others. If you don’t have this support, overwhelm can consume you. Before you start your business, ensure you build clear expectations with your partner, spouse, family members or others. Your time is precious and you will be pulled in many different directions.
Many of the day-to-day things that you accomplish in your personal life fall by the wayside when your business becomes your priority. Consider outsourcing activities such as house cleaning, lawn mowing and personal errands. Make meals easy by using pre-portioned, ready to cook meal delivery services such as Blue Apron or Plated.
6. Seek Advice from Successful Entrepreneurs
Support can also come from fellow solopreneurs and entrepreneurs. Knowing that others are going through the same journey is both encouraging and invigorating – and it can reduce your feelings of overwhelm.
You can find and get to know other entrepreneurs through Meetups, LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, and other networking groups. Attend meetings, find a mentor and pick the brains of others to find effective strategies for your endeavor.
7. Keep Tools Simple
Many solopreneurs tend to jump in immediately with heavyweight cloud-based tech tools to run their businesses. Setting up this infrastructure can lead to overwhelm, especially when you’re flying solo.
It’s typically not necessary to invest in heavyweight marketing, customer support, human resources, operations and sales/CRM systems. Focus first on customer acquisition, then implement these tools as your business grows. You’ll know when it’s the right time.
8. Let Go of Perfectionism
Paul Arden once said,
Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you’ve got, and fix it along the way.
When you’re already spread thin, having a tendency to set high standards can lead to overwhelm and put a stop to progress. Making mistakes and minor imperfections will happen. Don’t agonize over details and become overly cautious. Understand, as a solopreneur or entrepreneur that “perfect is the enemy of good.” Your desire for perfection can result in being your biggest impediment.
9. See the Forest For the Trees
At times, entrepreneurs can get too deep in the details, that they don’t see the big picture. Being hyper-focused on the details can overwhelm you and impede progress. For example, checking the language of an email campaign for the umpteenth time to decide which adjective works best is a waste of time. In the scope of things, it’s important to let go of these types of meaningless details and, instead, move quickly.
10. Consider Finding a Co-founder
If you’ve clearly defined your plan and it appears that realistically, there is simply too much work, you might consider finding a cofounder. As a solopreneur, this might be one of the biggest decisions that you make in your business. A co-founder is much like your life partner – they’ll be with you for the long haul so ensure their personality, energy, passion, skills and expertise complement those that you have.
As a solopreneur or entrepreneur, how do you avoid overwhelm and achieve success? Please share your stories and thoughts in the comments below.
Whether you’re a full-time entrepreneur or you’re starting a new business on the side, you typically find yourself filling multiple roles and juggling a variety of tasks. On Monday, you’re the CFO; on Tuesday, you’re the CMO; and on Wednesday, you’re the VP of Engineering. Does this sound familiar?
In spite of the many research studies that indicate multitasking worsens most people’s ability to get things done, you still find that it’s a necessity in your busy line of work.
Become a “Super Task Manager”
Have you heard the term “Supertaskers?” According to research published by Jason M. Watson and David L. Strayer from the University of Utah, only 2.5% of the population are effective multitaskers. Performance of tasks performed simultaneously is degraded for the majority of people.
I know many of the entrepreneurs who are reading this are thinking – yep, I’m a supertasker! If you think so, here’s a test from David Strayer that enables you to confirm your theory.
Multitasking is inevitable at times, so how do you survive in our multithreaded world? For the majority of the population, we recommend you become a “Super Task Manager,” rather than a multi-tasker. This doesn’t require genius-level, supertasker brainpower, just a bit of discipline.
Do you want to become a “Super Task Manager?” Follow the tips and tricks we’ve outlined for you today and you’ll be on the road to success.
1. Do a Daily Brain Dump
I don’t care if you won last week’s Jeopardy match; I still believe when it comes to remembering things to do, your memory is terrible. Not to mention, when you keep your to-dos in your brain, it creates stress and doesn’t leave room for creative thoughts.
Every day, when you start your workday, record all your tasks into a to-do list; this is your brain dump. Consider this the birth of your important assessment of daily tasks. This begins the process of deciding what’s most important for moving your business to the next level.
2. Grasp the Needle-Movers
Your business has goals – whether you want to increase profits, grow sales, widen awareness or increase customer satisfaction. Decide which of your tasks will move the needle toward those goals.
80% of what’s on your list is probably busywork and 20% of those tasks are needle-movers. Think about your long-term goals and outcomes and get these needle-moving tasks to the top of your priority list.
3. Be an Obsessive Compulsive Scheduler
When you schedule everything you need to do, you know exactly how many tasks, meetings, etc. you can fit into your daily schedule. In fact, research says that mental fatigue is reduced by better control of work scheduling.
When I say schedule everything – I mean EVERYTHING – not just events. Include your to-dos in your schedule; add meetings to your calendar; add lunch to your schedule; even add social media time to your calendar. Do you want to watch “Dancing with the Stars” or “Monday Night Football?” Then schedule it, as well.
What’s the best way to schedule everything? The LifeTopix app is a great app for recording and scheduling a variety of different types of things, while on the go. Many LifeTopix customers are busy freelancers, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and real estate professionals.
4. Learn to Let Go
Entrepreneurs typically like to take control of everything in their business, but sometimes they need to let go. Now that you’ve assessed and prioritized your tasks, you have a fantastic idea of what can be delegated.
Cloning yourself is not realistic, so if you have a team of employees, take the time to train them to complete tasks that are not highly strategic to your business or hire people who are up to the task. If you’re a solopreneur, outsource business tasks or items in your personal life to make more time for your business.
5. Hack Distractions and Interruptions
The problem with distractions and interruptions is you lose your momentum. Some small business owners and entrepreneurs manage distractions by blocking out their time to focus. However, distractions indicate your business is healthy and thriving because you’re supporting various employees, prospects and customers. Being accessible to answer questions and provide support keeps the business moving along at a healthy pace.
One simple hack to effectively manage these distractions is to record your thoughts (whether through audio or writing) at exactly the point when you left off each time you’re interrupted. This way, you’re not taxing your brain by trying to remember where you left off; and then you can easily switch back to the task at hand.
6. Get Online-Savvy
Using the Internet for research and everyday tasks is a necessity for freelancers, business owners, solopreneurs and entrepreneurs. But many don’t realize there are helpful tools, such as browser extensions and add-ons, to manage open pages and prevent online distractions.
Entrepreneurs typically have numerous tabs open on their browser. “Too Many Tabs” on Chrome and Firefox is a helpful extension/add-on that arranges your tabs in an easy-to-read format and also allows you to suspend tabs to release memory, which improves browser performance.
Another helpful tool to manage online distractions from advertisers is AdBlock, which allows you to surf the web without seeing the ads. And now, with iOS 9, developers have provided a variety of ad blocking apps to work with Safari on your iPhone or iPad, which are available at the Apple App Store.
7. Take Advantage of Background Tasking
One of the great advantages of modern computing is the ability to run processes in the background. You can run reports, compile code, run virus checkers, and more while you do other important work. By now, you understand what can run in the background and what cannot.
Like computers, we, as humans, can also run processes in the background. We quickly understand what type of tasks we can do simultaneously and when we must focus on a more complex single task.
Smart multitaskers make use of waiting time, such as doctor’s appointments, public transportation rides, long lines and while commuting (safe tasks only, such as Podcasts!). They also know which types of tasks can run in the background while they’re completing important projects, such as running a sales report while making cold calls.
8. Utilize “Thinking Time” in the Background
Everybody needs leisure time, and sometimes this time can be used strategically. When you’re playing golf, running, hiking, biking or knitting, take this time to think deeply about your business.
For example, imagine you’ve been invited to the opera, but you secretly have a distaste for opera music. You can use this time to think intensely about your business. Sometimes, stepping away and putting yourself deep into thought is a great way to find a new perspective, set goals and to unleash your creativity.
9. Harness Your Willpower
Have you ever noticed that your willpower is stronger during particular times of the day? Typically, your willpower is strongest in the morning, and you really propel forward when deadlines are quickly approaching. Take advantage of those times to get things done.
Moreover, much of willpower is simply about forming desired habits. According to research from the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes approximately 66 days to develop a new habit – and then it becomes automatic.
For example, if you have a habit of watching YouTube videos first thing in the morning as a form of procrastination; instead, focus on making a to-do list for at least 66 days in a row. Once this habit is solidified, you’ll never think about those silly cat videos again.
10. Resurrect Good Meetings
Being a “Super Task Manager” requires that you make the most of meetings. How often have you attended a meeting where participants are secretly responding to email, tweeting or completing work? They’re attempting to effectively multitask, but ultimately they’re performing two tasks at the same time very badly. This is a sign that the wrong participants are in attendance or the meeting is unnecessary.
Providing a good agenda is the best way to conduct useful meetings. Currently, a popular agenda format called TTOG is being used to improve the state of meetings. TTOG stands for Topic, Time, Owner and Goal. Essentially, it ensures that the subject, time spent, task owners and goals are clear to the participants. Once these guidelines are established, you and the team can move onto your important tasks.
With these simple hacks, I believe you’re on your way to being the “Super Task Manager” you wish to be. Good luck, and please share your multitasking and time management tips and thoughts.
LifeTopix is an all-in-one productivity app for iPad and iPhone. We have many customers who follow David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD) method and use LifeTopix to stay organized and productive. Many of these customers ask about the best ways to use LifeTopix for GTD® and our best practices. Today, we’re sharing tips for using LifeTopix to quickly capture ideas, to dos and other items that are in your head.
David Allen rewrote the Getting Things Done book for 2015 and beyond, which was originally published in 2001. In addition, LifeTopix has evolved since we first published the popular post, Best Practices for Getting Things Done – Capture and Collect in 2013. We strive to keep our customers up-to-date and hope you enjoy the new information we’re providing for you today.
What is GTD?
If you’re not familiar with GTD, it’s “the groundbreaking work-life management system by David Allen that provides concrete solutions for transforming overwhelm and uncertainty into an integrated system of stress-free productivity,” according to David Allen’s website.
In Allen’s latest book, he lays out five key phases of the GTD process:
Our post today focuses on the “Capturing” phase of GTD and describes the many ways that you can capture items in LifeTopix that are on your mind. Essentially, Allen states that it’s important to capture these items “outside your head.”
Watch the Video
Minimize Collection Buckets for Capturing Information
LifeTopix is an excellent app for capturing information simply because it organizes information all into one place. In Allen’s book, he states that you should minimize the number of collection buckets that you use to capture things to do and things on your mind. With LifeTopix, you can manage a variety of different types of information, which makes it ideal for minimizing those buckets.
As you know, information originates from several different channels, which results in many collection buckets. In some cases, these buckets can be multiple mobile apps and web-based applications. You receive messages from friends, family and colleagues. You check social media. You discover things on the web. And you receive information from other places — sometimes, it’s great ideas you’re thinking about.
The LifeTopix app combines email, social media, to do lists, your schedule, projects, tasks and more into one place. The many integrations, which include Evernote®, Toodledo®, Dropbox™, Box™, OneDrive™ (SkyDrive), Asana™, and Online Docs, are also helpful for minimizing the places where you collect information. For example, if you use Evernote® for note collections, you can easily manage those notes from LifeTopix.
More to Come
In the next few weeks, we’ll be posting more videos and tips to assist you with utilizing LifeTopix for GTD. Please subscribe to the Life Blog to stay up-to-date.
Learn about the next phases:
GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. LightArrow Apps are not affiliated with or endorsed by the David Allen Company.
Goals are the best way to set yourself up for success. To achieve goals, you must establish a plan and create steps to help you get there. It’s necessary to build specific and measurable goals, make yourself accountable and visualize your progress to motivate yourself to keep going. Thankfully, the LifeTopix app provides an effortless way to set goals and build a plan to turn your dreams into reality.
LifeTopix is an extraordinary all-in-one app for organizing work and life. It is smart, simple and powerful. Parents, real estate agents, freelancers, contractors, business owners, students, teachers and others use the LifeTopix app every day to manage their busy lives. 100,000 users and growing!
Watch the Video to Learn How to Set Goals
Watch this video to learn how to create goals with the LifeTopix app and how to follow a plan to achieve those goals.
In the 1800s, Victorinox® introduced the Swiss Army Knife® as an all-in-one tool to aid the Swiss Army. If you’re not familiar with the Swiss Army Knife, it’s essentially a single instrument that can include several different tool combinations such as a blade, screwdriver, can opener, bottle opener, nail file and a host of other tools. The Swiss Army Knife is known for its multi-tool design, red color and white cross logo. It’s an excellent example of smart and versatile design that eliminates unnecessary bulk in your backpack or pocket.
LightArrow Apps – Swiss Army Knives of the App World
Some things never change. In the 1880s, it was important to keep essential tools in one place. These days, many of us keep a variety of tools (apps) for managing our work and life on our smartphones and tablets. Imagine your device is like a pocket or backpack – you don’t want 24 different apps weighing down your device when you can use just one. And just like your pocket, you don’t want to keep reaching into it to find a different tool to do the job when one tool can do it all.
At LightArrow, we believe that versatility and all-in-one design is essential for optimizing productivity, and that’s why we love this type of smart design. For example, if I’m at a conference and I meet new connections, I want to save the information about those connections in notes, but I don’t want those notes to be separate from contacts on my device. Or, if I create a shopping list for a home project, I want that shopping list to be associated with that project. That’s why it’s great when my data is connected and inside one app. I also don’t want to search for a different app every time I want to create a reminder or make a to-do list. For the sake of efficiency, it’s important to have a “go-to” app for this information.
Many of our apps are packaged much like Swiss Army Knives. You can choose LifeTopix, which includes the most functionality in our product line right out of the box, or you can pick the features you want by downloading one of our other products. These apps: Pro.Calendar, My.Agenda and Pro.Inbox allow feature set flexibility through in-app purchases. Hence, it’s much like picking the tools that you need on your Swiss Army Knife. You can learn more about the features included in each app by visiting our Compare Page.
Have you discovered the power and versatility of all-on-one design? Let us know about your experiences with our products or others.
Recently we released Pro.Calendar and made it available at the Apple App Store. Pro.Calendar is the “calendar edition” of our LifeTopix app. It includes all popular calendar relevant topics such as project management, events, travel, health, notes and media and allows additional topics to be purchased through in-app purchases for managing shopping lists, contacts, finances, assets, education, passwords, email feeds, Evernote® feeds and Twitter and Facebook feeds. It’s a great selection for those who want the power of LifeTopix, but don’t want or need the entire 12 topics.
Pro.Calendar’s Time Ribbons
Pro.Calendar includes versatile calendar options including patent-pending “Time Ribbon™” views for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. If you’re a current LifeTopix, My.Agenda, My.Self or Pro.Inbox customer, you’ll notice that along with this launch of Pro.Calendar, we’ve updated the calendar views of those apps. Consequently, all LightArrow app users who use the calendar can enjoy the new, enhanced calendar views and “Time Ribbons.”
To learn more about Pro.Calendar and the enhanced Time Ribbon views, watch the following video below.
Pro.Calendar is available from the Apple App Store for US 3.99. As a universal app, a single purchase entitles you to use the app on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The app requires iOS 6.0 or later and is optimized for the iPad and iPhone 5 with iOS 7.
Please let us know if you like Pro.Calendar and if you have any “wish list” items for Pro.Calendar or any of our apps. Thanks!
Do you feel like you’ve haven’t achieved the successes you set out to accomplish? Do you believe you haven’t lived up to your fullest potential? You’re not alone. Many people feel this way. If you want to accomplish more, you can get there by spending some time planning your goals and building an action plan to reach those goals. Setting goals is an effective process that can get you on the road to success. Don’t know where to start? Follow this quick presentation below to learn a little about setting and achieving goals.