89: How To Handle Overwhelm

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Do you have a plan of action for managing overwhelm? In this episode, I’m revisiting one of my most popular episode topics: how to handle overwhelm. I’m sharing my best strategies for avoiding and getting out of overwhelm, especially when it feels impossible to do so. 

The Shoot It Straight Podcast is brought to you by Sabrina Gebhardt, photographer and educator. Join us each week as we discuss what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur while balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood. If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in, yet willing to talk about the hard stuff too, Shoot It Straight Podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight

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Review the Show Notes:

In the throes of overwhelm (1:24)

Stop overthinking (4:27)

The Eisenhower Matrix (8:36)

Have margin in your daily schedule (14:12)

Closing the open loops (20:00)

Episode Links:

Pricing Playbook

50 Ways To Save Time Freebie

Episode 12: What To Do When You’re Overwhelmed

Nick Trenton: Stop Overthinking

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Review the Transcript:

Welcome to the shoot it straight podcast. I’m your host, Sabrina Gebhardt. Here, I will share an honest take on what it’s like to be a female creative entrepreneur while balancing business, motherhood, and life. Myself, along with my guests, will get vulnerable through honest conversations and relatable stories because we’re willing to go there.

If you’re trying to find balance in this exciting place you’re in, yet willing to talk about the hard stuff too, then The shoot it straight podcast is here to share practical and tangible takeaways to help you shoot it straight.

Welcome back to the shoot it straight podcast. My friends today, I’m talking about something that comes up a lot. Um, I actually covered this back way, way, way back in episode 12, and that is my number one podcast episode download of all time, which is hilarious because it’s, you know, So old, but it’s something that is still coming up all the time.

And I thought I need to bring it back, give you a fresh take on things. My thoughts on this topic now, which is, you know, uh, 18 months later. So today we’re talking about overwhelm. It’s a super big subject, and unfortunately, it’s a really big issue for a lot of people, but especially creative entrepreneurs.

So when we are in the throes of overwhelm, you know what I’m talking about. You’ve been there before. So have I. Unfortunately, this is not something that we will just be able to overcome, uh, and never deal with again. But when we’re in the throes of it, it can feel like we’re spinning out of control. Like we can’t get a handle on anything.

Our lives, our businesses, our to do list, it can feel like we’re drowning in tasks and never making any progress or moving forward or worse. Sometimes it can feel like we’re going backwards and the list just keeps getting longer and longer and longer, right? I know you know what I mean. Okay. So in my personal experience, when you’re super, super deeply overwhelmed, it can feel almost impossible to break out of that feeling.

It can feel so heavy that you don’t know where to begin. And unfortunately, the longer someone stays in that deeply overwhelmed space, that drowning space, that’s when it leads to burnout and sometimes depression. Truly. I hate to say that, but it is so true. And I have seen it in my own life. I’ve also seen it time and time again with students, the women I coach, and also just in discussions that I’ve had in Instagram DMs.

It’s important to have a plan of action for when you’re overwhelmed. Again, this is not something that we can avoid. Okay. I wish that I could give you the magic solution to never be overwhelmed again. Wouldn’t that be incredible? But unfortunately that’s not the case. However, there are things that you can do to help avoid it.

There’s also things that you can do to help get out of it. And that’s really what I want to talk about today. We live busy, full lives. Okay. Many of you listening are mothers, partners, your friends. Your neighbors, your solopreneurs, the list is never ending. And I can tell you right now, the season of life that I’m in with a high schooler and middle schooler and an elementary schooler, things do not slow down.

They don’t. Uh, it just keeps getting faster and crazier and more chaotic. The world keeps going. Overwhelm happens and it will continue to happen. If you can know what to do, if you can have a plan of action for when you are overwhelmed, that will help you not stay in that state super long. It’ll help you feel like you have something in your toolkit that you can pull out and start to help you work through it.

And it’s really, really important. So I’m going to share a few things that I like to do when I’m super overwhelmed. Okay, these things help me to gain clarity and to prioritize what matters. Clarity helps me breathe a little bit better, right? It gives me the peace of mind that I know exactly what I need to be hyper focused on and everything else can wait.

Okay. So that gives me the ability to take one step forward and then another step forward and slowly kind of dig myself out of that overwhelm hole. Right. So back in episode 12, I shared a few things that I like to do when I am working through and trying to overcome overwhelm. I’ve got new things to share with you today.

Okay. The first thing that I want to share is I read a book with my mastermind students, um, the root to rise mastermind. We read books together if you did not know. And, uh, this particular book is called stop overthinking and it’s by Nick Trenton. It’s kind of a short but sweet, very meaty book. Um, there’s not a lot of fluff to it, which a lot of the women in my program actually loved.

If you struggle with overthinking and overwhelm, And anxiety, I highly, highly recommend this book. I will have it in the show notes for you. Okay, but I wanted to read a section in here. He talks about stress management, and in this particular moment in the book, he mentions a study on university students, and he says that this study found that these students, their stress levels could be lowered when their time management skills were improved.

even as their study demands stayed the same. The key they found was that the perceived stress was reduced. And it goes on to say that time management in turn often comes down to one fundamental skill, identifying your priorities and using them to guide your goal setting. So what does that mean? My friend, As much as I hate to say it, one portion, one part of the puzzle of being overwhelmed is often time management and as solopreneurs, as busy women, as mothers, we have so many moving parts in every given day.

And you may be running on a time management system that worked for you years ago, or maybe even in the last season, but maybe it’s not working for you anymore. Or maybe you are still doing this time management system and maybe it’s kind of working, but you’ve accidentally let some bad habits fall in and you’re actually wasting more time than you realize.

This is kind of where I want you to give yourself a real honest look in the mirror. Are you wasting time? Are you spinning your wheels on things that don’t matter? Are you getting sucked into the scroll on social media? Are you filling your time with things that you don’t have time for right now, but you’re refusing to let go of?

I am sure that if you take a really hard look at your time management and everything that you’re taking on, you’re going to see some things that need to go and that’s okay. Okay. You can’t do everything. You can’t do everything. You can’t be everything to everyone. So it’s time to let some things go and it’s time to really button up your time management.

Okay, so that probably looks like cutting back on screen time, cutting back on social media time, maybe setting a few projects aside and really focusing on the, the actual priorities right now. I don’t know what that looks like for you. Okay. Maybe it looks like trying block scheduling or theme days or, you know, taking one week a month where you don’t have any client facing work so you can get caught up on things, whatever that looks like to you.

I don’t want you to continue to do the same. Schedule system, time management process, whatever you want to call it, if it’s not working for you, and if you are severely, severely overwhelmed, it’s probably not working for you. Okay, so I do have a free guide that I’m going to put the link in the show notes for.

It’s called 50 ways to save time. Basically, it is a glorified checklist, but it has 50 sneaking ways. that you might be wasting time in your business. Time leaks if you, uh, want to think of it that way. And it’s really intended to get you thinking about, Ooh, I actually do that. And yeah, I didn’t even realize it, but that is wasting time.

Okay. And so the thought is go through this list, uh, read through the guide and get inspired for ways that you can make some cuts and make some changes to get time back. Okay. So again, that’s called 50 ways to save time. I will have that in the show notes. So back in episode 12, one of the things that I said, I like to do when I’m super overwhelmed is a huge brain dump.

And I still 100 percent agree with that strategy, but lately I’ve been taking it a step further and I’ve been loving using the Eisenhower matrix. You can Google this. Okay. You don’t have to buy a book or anything, but basically what this is is it is a way to help you prioritize. What is on your to do list?

Okay. You are going to do a big old brain dump of everything on your mind. Everything that you’re carrying that is adding to your overwhelm. And yes, this is personal and professional. Okay. This is the birthday party gifts. You need to buy the thank you notes. You need to send. This is the doctor’s appointments.

This is the work projects. This is the invoices, the photo editing. It’s literally everything. If you are carrying it around in your brain, it goes onto this list in a brain dump. And then you’re going to take the Eisenhower matrix process and you’re going to, uh, put everything from your list in a category.

Okay. So if you were to take a blank sheet of paper and draw one line vertical down the middle and then another line horizontal from side to side, you’re going to get four quadrants of this piece of paper. Okay. And what you do is One quadrant is important and urgent. One is important, not urgent. One is urgent, not important.

And then the other is not important, not urgent. Okay. And again, you can read up on this exactly how to sort through things, but you take your list quadrants.

What this does, if you are a visual learner, and I am so visual and I imagine you are too, um, Transcribed This helps you to see immediately what actually matters right now, today, in this moment, everything in the important slash urgent section quadrant of the paper is stuff that actually needs your attention today, this week, and everything else can wait.

So when you read about this, it also encourages you to delegate certain sections of the list or outsource certain sections of the list or completely delete altogether. Just take them off your list and don’t even worry about them. But even if you don’t do those things, I have been. Loving the Eisenhower matrix.

I do it on a weekly basis. So either Sunday evenings or Monday mornings, first thing I will take everything on my brain and on my plate and all of the moving parts in my business and in my life. And I will put them into this Eisenhower matrix. And that’s how I work through my list for the week. And it has been so helpful for me.

Google it, create your own little Eisenhower matrix. And I think that it will be really, really helpful for you to get a handle on all the things that you’re carrying around, right? It’ll help give you that clarity of what is actually super important right now and what can wait. And it also makes you realize visually that.

The majority of what you’re carrying around is stuff that doesn’t need your attention right now, and that takes a ton of pressure off almost immediately when you realize that only a small portion of your to do list actually lands into that important slash urgent category. It just you can breathe easier because automatically you’re like, Oh, my gosh, okay, I can actually manage this this week.

You know, so it’s a really good feeling. So hopefully that will help today’s episode is brought to you by the round table, a community built for female photographers who want to continue growing their business while forging industry friendships along the way. In this group, you will learn practical ways to move your business forward while finding community and accountability with like minded photographers.

The round table consists of three main parts, new live trainings that drop every month, a growing vault of all of the past trainings, and of course the community. Are you curious how it works? Every month you will get access to three new pieces of content over a broad variety of topics like pricing, editing, goal setting, website reviews, social media, and videos of me behind the scenes at real sessions.

Members also have the opportunity to learn from incredible guest speakers and industry leaders on a huge variety of topics. I pride myself in giving you just enough education every month to keep you growing and moving forward while not overwhelming you with content. The membership vault is such a valuable resource that is honestly more than worth the cost of enrollment on its own.

As of today, it has close trainings and only continues to grow. It literally holds every training from the very beginning of the membership and not to name drop, but the guest experts that come teach inside this group are industry leaders like Amanda Warfield of Chasing Simple, Maddie Pichon, Coley James, Jade Boyd, and Dawn Richardson of Tech Savvy Creative.

Just to name a few. So yeah, the education is great, but you can’t ignore the community. It is an absolutely incredible group of women just like you. In fact, pretty sure that anyone in the group will tell you that the community is the best part. Consider it your space to ask all the things, get all the support and make real life business besties.

If you’re ready to join us, you can head over to sabrinagabhart. com backslash membership and enroll today. Now back to the episode. The third thing that I want to share that’s kind of, this is not new for me. This is something that I’ve been teaching and that I think is really important, but I didn’t mention it back in episode 12, so I’m going to mention it today.

And that is this thought that when you are super overwhelmed, having margin in your schedule is absolutely crucial. Okay. It is absolutely crucial. If you’ve listened to the podcast for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about, about white space. And I definitely think white space is very, very important.

Okay. It can absolutely be a game changer to keep you out of burnout and overwhelm on a regular basis or to help pull you out of it when you’re deep in it. But that’s not what I mean here. When I say margin, I mean giving yourself margin in your daily schedule so that things aren’t packed so tightly together.

What happens is, and I definitely do this too, my friend, okay? What happens is we are busy and so we literally try and schedule out hour by hour, 30 minute increment by 30 minute increment back to back to back to back, right? Okay. Whether we have appointments or calls or lunch with our kids or school pickup or culling and editing or, or, or, or, or right, whatever it is, we try and jam pack our schedule and our day minute by minute by minute and it’s too much.

There’s no margin. There’s barely time for us to eat, let alone accidentally, you know, take longer on a project or get interrupted with a phone call or take a walk and get away from our desk when we don’t have that margin. What happens is we get to the end of every day and we feel like a failure. You get to the end of every single day and you wonder why you didn’t get everything done, why you didn’t get to everything on your list.

And we beat ourselves up over it because we think, well, gosh, I planned my day. I got up early and I did the things and I had everything on my list. And I, I listed off my top three priorities and I really scheduled things and I time blocked and I set timers and do not disturb. And you still didn’t get through it all because there’s no margin.

And this has been such a hard thing for me to learn because trust me, I like to be hyperproductive and I like to do the same thing. Things take longer than we think they’re going to. We’re human. They take longer. If you think that writing a blog post is going to take you 30 minutes plan for an hour. If you think that planning out your contact content for the week is going to take you an hour plan for 90 minutes.

If you think that you’re only going to take 30 minutes for lunch, give yourself an hour, give yourself that buffer time, that margin so that you can get to the end of your day and feel successful. Yes. If you fill your day with margin, you’re going to have less things that you are planning to accomplish in that day.

A hundred percent. It’s just, it’s just math, right? You’re going to only get through a couple of big things, maybe instead of five. But how much better would you feel if you planned less for your days because you’re allowing for margin and you got through the end of Monday and it was a success. You got your things done.

You were everywhere. You needed to be on time and then you got through Tuesday and the same thing happened and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and you got to the end of the week and you felt you were on top of the world because Every day actually went the way you intended it to go. How much better does that feel than a jam packed schedule with no margin and a really huge to do list?

Where you get to Monday and you didn’t quite get it all done. And so you feel a little bit defeated and then you carry those things into Tuesday, which is already super tight. And again, you don’t get it all done and you feel super defeated on to Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, you get to the end of the week and you only got a small portion of your things done and you felt defeated every single day.

What does that do for you mentally? Which one feels better? I’m hoping it’s quite obvious that the one with margin feels a lot better. So if you are in this state of serious overwhelm or next time you’re in this state, I want you to be ruthless. and try and find margin. What does that mean? I’m going to take some of your to do items off your list so that you’re trying to plug in less items in your day.

But I also want you to figure out what you can say no to figure out what you can reschedule, figure out what you can move around so that you can adjust the timing of your day to have margin in it. So when I say be ruthless, obviously there are some things that are not movable, right? Paying clients.

That’s, that’s not movable. Certain doctor’s appointments, certain meetings may not be movable. Picking up your kids from school is not movable, but there’s a lot of things that are okay. Rescheduling that lunch with your friend just to give you some margin. She’s going to understand you can push it back a week or two.

It’s fine. Moving some of your appointments, maybe some self care appointments back just to create some margin, maybe saying that you can’t attend a certain weekly meeting that particular week because you’re looking for margin, whatever it is, find it, it’s that important. Okay, especially when you are seriously struggling with overwhelm, giving yourself margin can be an absolute game changer.

The last thing that I want to add that I did not mention back in episode 12, but that I’m really loving lately and that I have been coaching on in my mastermind with the women in that group is to give yourself a day a week or every other week. So you’re either looking at two of these days a month or four of these days a month, but give yourself a day for overflow or what I call closing the open loops.

Okay. What does that mean? I personally like these days to be non business related. These are my days that I am not a solopreneur. I’m not a podcaster. I’m not a coach. The only hat I’m wearing is Sabrina Gebhardt, the mom and wife. And I give myself the full day to do all of those things. Open the personal family home, open loop things that need to get done, calling the doctors, scheduling the appointments, picking up the prescriptions, catching up on the laundry, meeting with the house repair people, you know, doing the gardening, whatever these things are, you know what I mean?

Okay. There’s always such a list of personal stuff that we carry around, right? And if I push them all to one day. It does, it does a few things that are magical. Number one, it gives me my other work days to not feel guilty about not doing these things because I know that I have a spot assigned to them.

Okay. Let’s say it’s Friday. I know that I can ignore it Monday through Thursday because Friday I’m going to get it done. And so I have more clarity when I’m working Monday through Thursday because I’m not worried about the stuff in the back of my mind. The other thing it does is come Friday. It’s the opposite.

I don’t feel guilty about not working because I had four super, super intense, intentional and productive work days so I can give myself a day to do all the family and personal open loops. And it is so refreshing to not have to go to my desk, to not have to see clients, to be able to just be a mom and wear that hat and to do all those things, right?

Maybe I’m planning our next trip, or maybe I’m ordering birthday gifts or whatever it is. Okay. It really helps. It’s kind of like time blocking, except we’re talking personal versus business. That has been a game changer for me and it, depending on what season I’m in, depends on if I get a daily, I mean a weekly open loop day or just a couple of months, a couple per month.

Either way, it is so helpful. Cause again, when I’m making my Eisenhower matrix of my priorities, I will put all of that personal stuff into one section and I will save it for an open loop day and I take care of it then. And that’s been so good for me mentally. So to recap, if you are in a place of deep overwhelm right now, I would love to encourage you to spend some time today doing a big brain dump.

It really is the best starting place. Get everything out on paper, absolutely everything, and then take it to the next level. Once everything is in one long list, push it through to the Eisenhower matrix. Take out a piece of paper, draw that grid on it and start to sort your priorities. Okay. It’s going to really give you clarity on your to do list.

And then after that, I really hope that you will get ruthless and try and find some margin in your calendar. Okay. Try and find some margin where you can spread things out a little bit more, give yourself a little bit breathing room because I would love for you to feel successful at the end of the day that helps with overwhelms.

So much as opposed to adding to that overwhelmed feeling like you are always failing and then look at your calendar and figure out where you can give yourself an open loop day. And here’s the thing you may not even need a whole day. Honestly, a half a day would be great. It is incredible how much personal household management stuff you can get done just in three or four hours.

Okay. When we’re not distracted with work. So even if you can only give yourself a half a day, add it in as soon as you can. It’s going to be so life giving. And after those things are done, it’s time to really consider taking a hard look at your time management. Okay, are there leaks? Are there holes? Are there things you can button up?

Again, I’m going to have the link to my freebie 50 ways to save time in the show notes and I would encourage you to grab that. That’s it for today, my friends, we’ll see you next week. Thanks so much for listening to the shoot it straight podcast. You can find all the full show notes and details from today’s episode at Sabrina Gebhardt.

com backslash podcast. Come find me and connect over on the gram at Sabrina Gebhardt photography. If you’re loving the podcast, I’d be honored if you hit that subscribe button and leave me a review until next time, my friends shoot it straight.


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