Manage overwhelm, plan and delegate: three things strong enough to hold any entrepreneur back.
How do you make any progress when you simply have too many tasks on your plate, causing you to wonder where to even start?
A few months ago I attended an event in London put on by Chris Ducker called Youpreneur Summit. The event was incredible for several reasons, but one of my favorite things about the event was that I got to meet and spend time with someone I’ve been friends with online for a while now.
His name is Gerjo – you might remember him from previous seasons because he’s always gracious enough to leave me a voice message with his feedback on the content he wants to hear about most. In fact, Gerjo is the one who reached out to me and requested that I create a post and episode around these three things.
Does this sound familiar?
When Gerjo asked me about these three things, I thought to myself: I’ve struggled with the exact same things. His words sounded SO FAMILIAR to me.
Because I’ve also struggled with how to:
I remember so clearly starting my day feeling like I was already so far under water that there was no hope of me getting to float before the day was over – let alone get out of the water completely.
But last week, yesterday – today – I didn’t feel that way, and it’s because I’ve managed to accomplish beating overwhelm, being dedicated to a plan, and diligently delegating tasks that I know I shouldn’t be working on.
My goal with this post
My goal with this post and episode is to share with you exactly how I did it.
Warning: There’s going to be a little bit of tough love in this post and episode – and a lot of precise steps you can take right now to manage overwhelm, plan and delegate. With reading this post and/or listening to this episode comes great responsibility: I don’t create content so that nothing can be done after consuming it. I create it so you can take action.
The tough love and precise steps are exactly what I needed in order to turn the corner, and I was lucky to have John by my side giving it to me. Today, I’m paying it forward and giving it to you.
Here’s the bottom line
So here’s the bottom line: managing overwhelm, planning and delegating is just about doing it.
Sounds like no help at all, right?
That’s because you’re over-complicating it, just like I was.
So stop right now and make a commitment to yourself: “I will not over-complicate this process.”
I’m going to break down each of these three struggles, give you a “quick win” you can implement right now, and then talk about making your actions consistent so that this won’t be a one-time thing, but rather an ongoing process.
How to manage overwhelm
Overwhelm is a feeling you get when you have too many things going on, or too much to accomplish all at once. Therefore, in order to manage it we need to learn how to let things go.
Now I don’t mean in the sense of writing them off, or completely deleting them from your life. I mean choosing a priority knowing that you will get to the things that matter most to you when it’s their turn.
Quick win for managing overwhelm
If you don’t already have a to-do list for your day, take 5 minutes to create it now.
Your to-do list should include the tasks you need to accomplish today in order to feel as though you’ve been productive.
Once you have your to-do list for your day take another 5 minutes to reorganize it.
What is the number 1 MOST important task on your list: the one that you simply cannot skip?
Move that task to the top of your list.
Continue to put your tasks in order of priority. Once your list is “in order” start from the top.
Set a timer for 30 minutes (or whatever timeframe you feel is necessary to complete your first task – anywhere between 15 minutes a 1 hour).
If you think your task will take more than 1 hour to accomplish, then it’s too big of a task; break it down into smaller tasks.
Once you set your timer you are committing to being FULLY FOCUSED on the one single task you’ve said is your BIGGEST priority for the day. No distractions.
When your timer goes off, give yourself a score. On a scale of 1 – 10 (1 the lowest and 10 the highest):
How productive were you?
How disciplined were you?
Now, set your timer for 5 minutes and take a well-deserved refresh break!
Didn’t that feel amazing?
You just organized your task list and accomplished the one thing you said was MOST important in less than 1 hour!
Being consistent with managing overwhelm
You now have the exact framework you can use every single day to set yourself up for success – and beat overwhelm.
Each day try to increase the number of FOCUS sessions you complete.
Some days it might just be one FOCUS session, depending on whether you have a full-time job, a family, or other life commitments.
Some days it might be three or four FOCUS sessions.
Practice this every single day, and before you know it you’ll not only be checking the MOST important tasks off your list, but you’ll also be proving to yourself that a lot of the tasks on your to-do list really aren’t that important – otherwise they’d be at the top, and you would have accomplished them already.
At the end of your first week – where you’ve practice managing overwhelm with the system I’ve shared above – take our your task list, and ask yourself:
What tasks really aren’t necessary?
What tasks aren’t going to help me make real progress in my business?
What tasks don’t contribute to a specific goal I’ve set?
I’m willing to bet there are a lot of tasks on your list that really aren’t necessary – at least not right now. So go ahead and back-burner those tasks that can wait; literally get them off your list.
Asana is really helpful for this because you can document ALL of your tasks so that you don’t forget about them. Those tasks that aren’t a priority right now don’t have to disappear; but they do have to get off your to-do list, because they are the ones causing your feelings of overwhelm.
How to plan
Planning can sometimes seem like an unnecessary step; you already know what steps you need to take in order to accomplish something, so you just dive right in and start doing the work.
While I LOVE your enthusiasm for just starting, this is not the way to go about planning because there are way too many distractions and roadblocks that will come up in the process that will derail you and push you off course.
Having a plan in place will not only save you so much time, it will also:
Save you bandwidth on trying to figure out what to do next (which can be SO exhausting), and
Take the guesswork out of making progress (just move on to the next step on your list!), and
Quick win for planning
Pick a bigger project that you’re currently working on and using a tool like Asana (or just a piece of paper) write out the name of your project.
Underneath the name of your project write the date you will accomplish that project by.
Then, below that, write down numbers one through five (as though you’re making a list).
By each of those five numbers write down – in order – which steps you’ll take in order to complete your project.
If your project requires more than five steps, continue writing out as many steps as you need in order to complete your project.
If you’re not sure exactly what every step will be, that’s ok – just focus on what you know you need to do right now.
With your goal date in mind (the date you’ll finish your project by), write down a due date for each one of your steps. This should be easy to back into since you know the date you want to finish the project by.
There you have it! You’ve just create a lose project plan for yourself!
Being consistent with planning
In order to dive deeper into planning – and actually make it a habit – take time to map out the bigger goals you’re focused on over the next 3 months.
Schedule one hour in your calendar as soon as possible, and during that one hour follow these steps:
Write out, in order of priority, the major projects (or goals) you’re working on over the next 3 months.
Take the first project (goal) – your highest priority – and make sure it’s SMART (click here for this exercise).
Just as you did in the “quick win” section above, take your SMART goal and start creating your plan for it, including the date you’ll accomplish it by, the steps necessary, and a due date for each of your steps.
Keep your plan CLOSE throughout your project so you know exactly what your next step is – and so you can check in with your progress.
Rinse and repeat! Once you’ve accomplished your goal, move to the next goal on your list, make sure it’s SMART, and then create a plan you can execute on.
How to delegate
For purposes of this post I’m going to assume that, if you’re struggling with delegating, then you have at least one employee, contractor, or virtual team member who is helping you in your business.
Quick win for delegating
Identify one task you do daily (or multiple times per week) that you shouldn’t be doing. Considering that you’re overwhelmed with tasks, this shouldn’t be an issue.
You’ll recognize a task as one you shouldn’t be doing because the task:
Is a $10 / hour task (you could pay someone $10 / hr to do that thing for you)
Doesn’t require that YOU be the one doing it (anyone capable could perform this task and it wouldn’t make any difference in the outcome)
Once you’ve identified that one single task, create a video tutorial of how you accomplish that task or a checklist that walks through each step you take.
Loom is a great resource for recording a video, and Asana or Process.st are great platforms for creating checklists and processes. All of these recommendations have a free version available.
You’ve identified the one task, you’ve documented how you do that task, and now it’s time to delegate it.
Get in touch with your team member (employee, contractor, virtual team member, etc) and let them know you have a new task you’d like for them to handle. Give a brief explanation of the task, why it’s important to the business, and send them the video link or checklist of how to do it.
Have them do it once, check their work, and smile: you’ve just delegated a task!
Being consistent with delegating
Delegating is not easy – I get it. Oftentimes your instinct is to just do it yourself because you:
Already know exactly what to;
Can do it quickly;
Don’t want to spend the extra time to teach someone else how to do it.
If you can’t get over this mindset, you will continue to feel overwhelmed. You have to believe that the time you’re investing in delegating a task to someone else will pay off – and it will.
Now that you know how to identify those tasks you shouldn’t be working on, make it a weekly habit to check in on your to-do list and continue delegating those tasks.
Actually schedule it in your calendar:“Check to-do list for tasks I can delegate”. Set it to recur once per week. Add a notification or reminder so you don’t forget.
There is not one step I’ve shared with you here that is difficult. It just requires your time and patience.
This is such simple process to follow, but it’s not going to be easy (if it were, then you wouldn’t be wondering how to manage overwhelm, plan and delegate).
You have to commit to being disciplined about this, and that means not just doing it one time and then falling back into your normal routine of “I’ll just do this task one more time before I delegate it cause it’ll be easier”.
Now it’d be silly to pretend that I’ve done this all on my own.
I already mentioned that John gave me some tough love to help me beat overwhelm, conquer planning and make a consistent habit out of delegating. But he also gave me this: The Mastery Journal.
Here’s what it looks like and how The Mastery Journal works…
By using The Mastery Journal daily I’ve been able to get more done before noon than I used to get done all week.
With the help of four FOCUS sessions per day, my task list has never been cleaner, and I’ve never made so much progress towards accomplishing my projects and goals.
Trust this process.
Following the steps above, and using The Mastery Journal daily to help keep you on track, is how you win.