In freelancing, there are weeks where things are really slow, so I take that time to market myself and work on passion projects, but other weeks (and months) are so chaotic that I even have to outsource work to meet the demand. That’s where you want to be when you run a business, but it can also get really overwhelming.
When I over schedule myself, it’s hard to see how everything is going to get done. Besides freelance work, there’s also house chores, time for my spouse, taking care of my dog, myself and other commitments. Last week, I really hit rock bottom after a task took longer than it should. I glanced at my overly crowded to-do list, still overflowing at 5pm, and I wanted to cry, but instead I took a break.
When I came back, I asked myself, what needs to get done over the next 24 hours? I made my to-do list shorter and focused on what mattered for that day. That helped me get everything done! If you’re ever having an overwhelming day like mine, here are my four quick and easy tips for getting over the hurdle and back on track.
Take a break. When I feel overwhelmed, I take my dog for a long walk and start sorting out in my head what I need to focus on when I get back. If you don’t have a dog, you can go on a walk around your neighborhood with your spouse or on your own. Also, you can call a friend for a short talk or chat with them over Facebook. The point is to take a break and give your mind a rest. Don’t get back to work until you have calmed down and can see things more clearly.
Write down your MITs. Right after you take your short break, write down your three MITs (most important tasks) for the day. This is a technique I learned a few years ago from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. I like writing just three tasks because that seems more doable than a long list of mini tasks. When your MITs are done you feel so much better, accomplished and most importantly you can call it a day.
Ask for help. This is something I need to work on. If you have too much going on outsource a few tasks. You can outsource the research part of your work, house work, marketing or talk to your partner about helping out with some chores.
Have a dance party. When you’re done with your MITs, turn up the music and dance. It’s super important to celebrate even the smallest of victories. If dancing is not your thing, play a game, or watch your favorite TV show. The point is to do something fun and enjoy the fact that you got over a super overwhelming day and got your work done.