Women leading women

3 ways to escape the overwhelm vortex

You’ve got soooo much on… you can’t see how you’re going to get through the next day, never mind the next month… you’re being pulled further and further down into your own whirling, swirling world…

Stop there, superwoman!

I’m going to throw you the rope to grab onto, and a way to pull yourself out.

But let’s get one thing straight. It is almost impossible pull yourself out of a vortex. You need someone else to help you. Thankfully,  the world is full of people with amazing skills, ready and waiting to be on the end of that rope.

So grab that to-do list. It’s time to break free.

Vortex-buster #1: Buy in some time

What jobs do you have that DON’T need your unique skills and experience? Put together a to do list and search for one-off, contained tasks that someone else could do.

Who you look for, depends on how much skill is needed. If it’s administration that’s stealing your time, consider booking a VA for a few hours.

The more experienced they are, the more they should be able to take over tasks quickly and efficiently. If it’s something very practical – packing up parcels, or preparing event packs – ask around for someone local to work for a few hours. Look at  freelance sites such as PeoplePerHour and Elance can be great starting points for work that can be done remotely or talk to your network, look around LinkedIn, or put the work out on social media.

As as well as one-off jobs, you’ve probably also got a lot of tasks that you do regularly. While, you may know how to do them standing on your head,  it can be frustrating to hand them over to someone who may not be as efficient as you at first.

However, these are jobs that probably really getting in the way of you growing your business, or having the work-life balance you want. They don’t need your skills, and they take up time and energy that you could be using better.  And, as long as you hold onto them, you’re unlikely to escape that relentless pull of overwhelm. Even if you don’t save as much time as you’d like on the first occasion, it doesn’t take very long before you should be seeing real benefits.

If you’re handing over jobs you do frequently, it’s worth investing a bit of time to create ‘how-to’ guides. You could create a process list, slides, or mini-manual. Video can be particularly effective; try Jing, free screen-capture/video software to talk someone through what needs to be done. YouTube is also a great resource of done-for-you training on standard systems.

Vortex-buster #2 Hire some skills

What jobs do you know you’re not very good at? You’re looking for tasks that you probably dread, because you just don’t have the necessary skills. Do you need to update your website, and know that it takes you hours because you don’t know your way around WordPress well enough? Are you planning to design a flier for your new workshop? What about formatting presentation slides, sorting out accounts, creating images for social media in that new programme you’ve been meaning to try, editing videos or transcribing audios? It’s time to get someone who knows what they’re doing, and can do it in half the time.

You might already know someone who specialises in what you need to be done. Otherwise, if it’s a defined job you need done that can be done remotely, such as creating a flier, look at ‘hourlies’ on PeoplePerHour or, for rock-bottom prices, Fiverr, where everything starts at $5. If it’s a bit less contained, create a description of what you need to be done and post it on PeoplePerHour or Elance. Both sites are full of freelancers offering their services. Look for good reviews relevant to the work you want done, as well as a portfolio. If you need skills locally, ask around your network, or try Google for local searches.

Vortex-buster #3: Buy in expertise

This is where to go when you’ve got jobs that are going to cause you serious energy waste because you don’t have the knowledge. Here you’re looking for tasks where before you can make progress you’re going to have to figure something out, do research, read tutorials, or figure out some kind of make-do solution.

For a really quick fix, it can be worth hiring an expert for an hour or so to give you some personal training. You won’t be an expert yourself, but it might just give you enough to get you over the next hurdle.

It also needn’t be ruinously expensive, particularly if it’s something where you can work remotely, such as over Skype. Again, you could advertise for someone on Elance or PeoplePerHour, or ask around. A cheaper option might be to buy a ready-made masterclass or course. However, you need to be sure you’ll find time to work through it, and it might also cover a lot of stuff you don’t need.

If you’ve got a bit more time and budget, hire someone to advise you in more detail, or do something for you. Typical projects my include revamping your mailing list strategy, or mapping out your new website. An expert will usually have tools to help work out a strategy for for you, and may be able to help you put it into practice.

It could also mean looking at taking on an expert as a regular consultant. This would involve taking on an agent to help get your product into more shops, or working with someone to give you ongoing marketing advice.

It’s not uncommon for solo consultants to offer a short free first session so you can get a sense of their style and whether it would work for you.

Hiring an expert might mean paying more for something than you’d originally planned, particularly if you’d been planning to do the research and thinking, and to hire someone purely to implement it. Before you discount it, though, consider the value of getting something done sooner versus waiting until you find the time, and of getting an expert view from the start.

Out of the vortex and into the land of opportunities

Bringing in other people to your business is the only way to grow your business successfully and get the quality of life you want. And yet it’s often uncomfortable, especially if you pride yourself on being an all-round, determined, superheroine.

But think of that vortex. It’s not going to let you go. So instead, choose to shout and get help. You’ll discover what amazing things start to happen in your life and your business when you trust other people with the rope to pull you upwards.

Joanna Pieters works with small business owners with big visions, to give them clarity, focus and an action plan to succeed. Her online programme Brilliant Hiring begins on 28 April, taking you from overwhelm to hiring confidence in just 6 weeks.

Photo credit: Mary Ann Enriques

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2 Comments
  1. Gary Starkman says

    Very inspirational. Its not easy letting other people help you, but sometimes its just the thing you need.

    1. Joanna Pieters says

      Hi Gary – yes, I agree, we’re often the biggest barrier in getting ourselves out of overwhelm! It’s not easy, but sometimes we just have to take that leap of faith.