As an entrepreneur, everything around us tends to call for our attention, competence, input, skills. The expectations we put on ourselves as well all add up to being overwhelmed. 

Overwhelm is a type of emotional paralysis, that makes you feel unable to handle or cope with your situation.

It occurs when you can't see things with some clarity which causes confusion and puts you in a position where you feel like things are falling apart around you causing you stress and anxiety. 

This vulnerable state causes mental pressure which magnifies issues and make you procrastinate, complain, become negative, blame others or your circumstances for all the problems you are going through. 

Overwhelm saps your energy and leaves you stressed. 

I'll be sharing five possible reasons for overwhelm and steps you can take to beat it.  

6 Reasons for Overwhelm and How to beat them 

1. Lack of planning

Having a picture of your goal in your mind and being equipped with the skills required to handle your business and personal life isn't the same as putting structures and plans in place that will get you there. 

If you go about your day to day without a proper plan, you will find out that you work on everything that comes to mind, after all, they are all related to your business, right? Wrong. 

Working on everything doesn't get you the result faster; it's one of the reasons your overwhelm won't go away. 

Planning will help you see the directions to approach, so you remain on course and focus on essential things. This will minimise getting overwhelmed. 

What to do?

  • Lay out your daily plan of action
  • Get some clarity on the task and activities you've set for the day. You can try to reverse engineer your tasks. This can be done by visualising that your job is completed in your mind and then work your self back step by step to the beginning of the task, seeing everything achievable and done in your mind.
  • Understand and know your life's purpose and values. This will help you put things in perspective and focus on steps that will help you to achieve your goals. 

2. Mind overload

Feeling overwhelmed might come from trying to handle more than you emotionally and physically.

Even after you have drawn out a plan, you can still feel overwhelmed with information overload because you are trying to account for everything.

With one task, you can get yourself overloaded with information on tackling it. 

From responsibilities, commitments, discussions, deadlines, research to analysis, you can get your thoughts scattered in so many directions which can cause mental overload, and result in feeling overwhelmed. 

What to do 

Do a braindump. 

This is different from a list or a to-do list. You want to write down as quickly as possible all the thoughts going on in your mind.

It doesn't have to be well-articulated, dump the ideas down. 

Set priorities: 

The recipe for stress and overwhelm is attending to unimportant but urgent tasks while shoving the important one down the list afterwards.

Now what happens is the important ones become very urgent by the time you get to them cos you';l be running out of time.

You've got to have a sense of what is important to you on a deeper level and focus on them first. 

Time yourself. 

I know it could sound limiting to put timing to your tasks, especially as an entrepreneur. However, this will help you immensely.

You know the dynamics of your business, so what applies to A might not be for B, but what both can do is set a time to complete a task each day.

And once you hit that time frame, that's enough for that day. 

And if it's a project, break them into chunks, a lot a daily time that will add up to its completion and stick to it.

For example, if I have a project that will take me 2weeks to complete. Looking at the framework, I know if I put in 3hours of work daily, I can meet that goal conveniently. This will reduce any overwhelm and free you some time with your personal life. 

Stop Multitasking 

You probably understand by now that multitasking isn't productive, but when you feel overwhelmed, one of the things you want to check out are things you are involved in daily and how much of yourself you put in.

Doing this will reveal how you have spread yourself so thin by trying to handle almost everything at the same time. 

3. Having Expectations of Perfection

You can get overwhelmed by placing perfection standards on yourself. High expectations of perfectionism can make you feel overwhelmed.

The truth is perfectionism is unrealistic, and you are simply hard over yourself when you do this.

It slows results or achievements down not because you aren't taking doing anything, in fact, you actually take action, but the problem is your inability to make decisions fast and quick enough to meet the high standard demand you have placed on yourself.

What to do

Embrace Imperfections: 

This doesn't mean settling for mediocrity but feeling perfect with imperfections. If you have done enough to cover all you have set out for yourself and it's done.

It's done. Nothing can be perfect, and you have to be okay with that reality.

Rather than spend extra time scrutinising a done task, aim for 80% perfection is much more productive than the extra time you will take to get things to 90% and more especially when you are running out of time. 


4. Lack of personal boundaries

If you don't define your boundaries of space and time, you will get overwhelmed. When you have people invading your personal space, it will disturb your focus, efforts and thoughts.

This can set you back in meeting your deadline, which then leads to feeling overwhelmed. 

What to do 

  • Don't commit to things you don't have to be a part of so you can focus on the important things that fuels and fulfil you. 
  • Don't make unrealistic promises, if you commit to something and you are unable to fulfil it because you are overwhelmed the other party won't understand that, all they will conclude is you let them down. 

5. Wanting to control everything 

Trying to be in control of everything reveals your lack of trust that things can be done well without your input, or that other people are capable enough to do a better job than you can.

When you don't give up control of things, you are losing control of many things in your business and personal life. 

What to do 

  • Simplify your life to boost your level of productivity by utilising new technologies and putting systems in place. 
  • Understand how to leverage your time by delegating and where possible outsourcing.
  • Learn Productivity essentials, Project and time management, and organisation skills to help you maintain your environment. 

6. Feeling Compelled to say Yes Often

Naturally, we feel the innate drive to please others which makes saying No daunting and then we feel compelled to say yes to people's request.

The thing is for every Yes to say to someone, You take away the time and energy needed to attend to important things in your life.

At the end of the day, you don't get enough done for yourself, and you keep piling things up cos you have taken other peoples' requests on board. The result? Overwhelm and stress. 

What to do 

Don't say Yes when You mean No. Simply say No. If you struggle with saying No, I have a whole article on How to say NO without creating tension with 4 kinds of people

Final Thought

Being overwhelmed loads up on our stress levels, and it impacts our productivity negatively. As Entrepreneurs, we need to guide our time, space, energy and mind so we can focus better on the important things that add up to our values and goals. 

I hope you take these tips and work on them so you can overcome feeling overwhelmed. 

How have you worked on your overwhelm in the past? Or do you have more to contribute to this article? Comment below. 

About the Author Funmi

Funmi is a Certified Functional Health Coach. She is passionate about helping female entrepreneurs transform from Stress and burnout so they can begin to thrive in their body and, by extension, their businesses. 

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