12: What To Do When You’re Overwhelmed

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When you’re feeling overwhelmed – you’re spinning out of control with absolutely no forward progress in sight – it is so hard to break out of the cycle. In this second episode of my three-part series on overwhelm, I want to talk about where to even start when you’re deep in the throes of overwhelm. My goal is to help you move through the stress so you can gain clarity and break free of your cycling overwhelm.  

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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This episode is brought to you by my Sustainability Guide Freebie, where I’m walking you through 10 steps to a sustainable business. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for years, this guide will help you review the different facets of your business and clarify whether or not you’re set up for long-term sustainable success.

Review the Show Notes:

Brain dump (2:48)

Cull your list (4:34)

Put out any fires (6:10)

Cut the fluff (8:10)

Stop taking new clients (9:26)

Mentioned in this Episode:

Sustainability Guide Freebie

Sabrina is launching a brand new course in late 2022. Get on the waitlist and find out more HERE.

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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 to to 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. Following up after last week’s episode, overwhelm is a really big subject. And unfortunately, it’s a big problem for creative entrepreneurs. When we are deep in the throes of overwhelm, we can feel like we’re spinning, or maybe we don’t have control over what’s going on around us. Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in tasks and never and never really making any progress forward. Or worse, maybe things are just going backwards and the lists are getting longer and longer. In my experience, when you’re deeply overwhelmed, it can be really hard to break out of that cycle, it can feel so heavy that you don’t even know where to begin. And unfortunately, when someone stays in that deeply overwhelmed drowning space for too long, that is where burnout, and sometimes even depression come into play, it’s super important to have a plan for when you’re overwhelmed.

Sure, in a perfect world, you would avoid overwhelm altogether. But unfortunately, that’s not the case, there are things you can do to avoid it as much as possible. And we will go into all of that in next week’s episode, part three of this series about overwhelm. However, overwhelm is not completely avoidable. We live busy lives where mothers, partners, friends, neighbors and entrepreneurs, the lists are never ending. Life does not slow down in the world around us. It just keeps going. Overwhelm is going to happen. But knowing what to do when you’re overwhelmed so that you can start to work through it and not stay in that state for too long is really important. There are a few things that I like to do when I’m super overwhelmed. These things helped me to gain clarity and prioritize what matters, I’m able to see clearly what I need to do and what can wait or even be ignored altogether. Right? This clarity lets me breathe a little better.

And I’m able to actually make progress to move through the overwhelm to a place where I can manage my life and my business much more easily. So the first thing that I do when I am super overwhelmed is a big ol brain dump. This isn’t fancy, but it is a necessary first step. So the thing about our brains, especially the female brain, is that we like to carry all the things around with us. And oftentimes, our brains are carrying around stuff that literally doesn’t matter. But it’s adding to the stress level. We carry grocery lists or replaying a fight we had from two days ago, we carry around business to do lists. Or sometimes I’m sure I’m not the only one we carry around unwarranted and completely irrational fears. Okay, we carry around creative ideas, or just little things like trying to remember to start a load of laundry later. So when you have all this stuff that we carry around in our brains, and then you add in all the stimulation from noise, email, inboxes, text messages, and social media, it is too much. It is literally sensory overload.

This is why we need to start with a brain dump. First, I like to literally put every thought that crosses my mind onto a piece of paper, not just my task list, but all of my thoughts. Okay, I recommend spending about 10 minutes really getting it all down. And when you think you have emptied out your brain and you’ve written all the thoughts, just sit in that silence for a little bit longer and keep going I promise you more things will come up. Okay, this is a quick and dirty list. Don’t worry about using color coded pins and pretty handwriting just get everything out of your brain. Pull it all out until it’s empty. The second thing I like to do at that point is I call my list okay. So you probably have a really long list. Maybe it is pages and pages long. It’s time to call through it and clean up the mess. The first thing you should do is go through that list and immediately scratch off all the things that you do not have control over Okay, women like to carry around all this stuff that we cannot control, it is the worry, it is the fear, okay, we like to carry it around. And it doesn’t make any sense. But it adds to our pressure and our overwhelm. Okay, so example, you may be carrying around those irrational fears about your children or your health, you may be carrying around the stress of a fight you had a couple of days ago, or a past relationship, all that stuff that literally should not even hold space in our brain, but it does anyways, cross it off the list, because you cannot control that stuff.

I think you’ll be surprised just how much comes off the list simply because you can’t control it. After you do that, then go through the list and pull off everything that can wait. This is going to be things like your big ideas and big projects, you want to start someday, but they aren’t actually pressing, take that stuff off and move it over to its own list. Personally, I think you should stick it on a list in your office or your planner, or maybe the Notes app of your phone so that you can add to it or look at it from time to time. But it doesn’t need to be carried around daily. So after you’ve done those two steps, when you’re calling your list, what should be left is tasks that actually need to be completed and are semi important. So from that list, you’re going to go through and choose things that are urgent, there is an actual deadline involved or someone else is waiting on you to get started with something or it’s a small emergency. Okay, the fires that need to be dealt with that is where you’re going to start.

So step three in this process is to put out any fires. Okay, so now you’re ready to do this work, you have taken off the stuff that doesn’t matter, you have taken off the stuff that can wait and you’ve got deadline or urgent things that need to be dealt with, you have this list. And you’re going to go through and sort them in order of importance and or due date. Okay, so anything that absolutely must be dealt with in the next 24 hours, obviously needs to go at the top. And remember, these need to be true fires, not just things that you really, really want to do, okay, because we’re trying to get you out of overwhelm. This is not a day to day practice, this is a getting you out of overwhelm practice. So right now you are just dealing with the fires, things that have a 24 hour time limit, you need to get them done. Putting out all of those fires, and dealing with those top time sensitive urgency items will not only relieve a lot of pressure, it will give you some quick wins, okay, that is going to help reduce your overwhelm. So at this point, you have dumped everything out of your brain, you have taken off the things that you cannot control, you have set aside the things that have no deadline that don’t need to be done with right now. And you’ve put out urgent fires, okay, you should be feeling a lot better already. The next step is to cut the fluff.

So you’ve made a list, you’ve taken off the things that you cannot control or you don’t matter, you’ve you know, put out the fires, it’s time to cut the fluff, what can wait, what can be dealt with next week, or next month? Or maybe not even at all? Okay, so this is going to be a matter of really asking yourself, what are the must do tasks in my business and in my life, even if it’s something that you have been doing in the past, if it isn’t absolutely necessary, when you are in a season of trying to get out of deep overwhelm, it can go, okay, use this as your permission slip to cut the fluff. This could be things like writing blog posts, sending out email marketing, social media, et cetera. Yes, all of those things are great and make a really big difference in business, but they don’t have to be done. Okay. In your personal life. These might look like the volunteer commitments, the lunch dates, home projects, okay? Again, these are all wonderful things. But when you are deeply physically and emotionally overwhelmed, everything extra has to go. Technically,

these things can wait. The last step, step number five, in trying to dig yourself out of this deep overwhelm, is to stop taking new clients. Okay, step five, is really if you are in business for yourself, which if you are listening to this podcast, I can only assume that you are stop booking new clients or scheduling client meetings just for the time being. I know that you need clients to pay your bills and to run a successful business. I’m not telling you to close your doors and burn it all down. But when you are deeply overwhelmed OMED the last thing you need is a whole bunch of inquiries or scheduled zoom calls or bookings to deal with that is only going to make things worse right now, give yourself a couple of weeks or even a month to turn everything down, just so that you can dig your way out of this overwhelm pit that you are in.

So, to recap today, if you are in a place of deep overwhelm, I want you to spend some time today doing this big ol brain dump. And then I want you to start moving through the other steps, calling your list, putting out any fires, cutting the fluff and stop taking on new clients for the time being, this is going to make a really big difference. So I do have a freebie for you. And I’ve mentioned it before, I would love for you to grab my 10 Steps to a sustainable business is totally free. The link is in the show notes, but you can grab it at Sabrina gebhardt.com backslash sustainable. That is it for today, my friend. Join me next week for part three of this overwhelm series about how to avoid overwhelm in the future. Bye for now. 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 Gebhart 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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