Solving Business Overwhelm

As a self employed entrepreneur you are following your passion and doing something you love.

But as a day to day business owner there are always other things that need to be done as well, the less glamorous stuff that you would rather give to someone else.

If you can afford to, then why not? Handing over the less fun tasks to someone else whilst you carry on with work you enjoy makes excellent business sense.

But what if you can’t afford it?

Neglecting your administrative tasks because you are too busy doing billable work is a recipe for business disaster.

Think of it like a watch. The watch face and hands are the front end of your business. This is you showing the world what your company can do. The hands turning constantly are the work that brings you clients and money.

But there is lots going on behind the scenes. This is what no one else can see. There are lots of tiny cogs whirring away to keep those hands moving on time.  In a business this can include getting your bills paid on time, sending out invoices and chasing up late payments, advertising, updating your website and stock taking.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

If you neglect these cogs, if one of them slows down or stops altogether, the hands will no longer show the right time. It will be plain for everyone to see that the watch isn’t working properly.

Who would buy a watch that doesn’t work?

Feeling overwhelmed by all the different hats you have to wear is common for business owners. There is so much to do that you don’t know where to start. Or you plough away at it after work in the evening, neglecting your family time to just get it done. Then in the cold light of day you realise that you didn’t even make a dent.

Don’t despair.

Sometimes when you are feeling overwhelmed it helps to take a step back and look at the situation from a different perspective.

Move away from your pile of paperwork and create a list of tasks that need doing on a regular basis.  These could include invoicing, writing blog posts or responding to emails. Schedule these tasks into your diary along with client work.

Set up reminders so you get a message telling you what needs to be done that day

Keep a schedule.

Block out an hour each day to start on your list of jobs, where you can shut everything else out and just get it done.

Let clients know that there are times of the day when you can be contacted and when you can’t. You should let family and friends know this as well. Cut out as many distractions as possible until the work is done. Switch off your phone and let the answer phone pick up the calls.

Email and social media are other distractions. It’s easy to think these don’t take up much time but they pull you in, draining your time away.

If you don’t need the internet, turn it off whilst you are working so you don’t get distracted.

Work Area.

Make sure your work area is free of distractions.

That picture of your baby is gorgeous. I’m sure you could look at it all day. Maybe you do.

It is nice to work with pictures of loved ones nearby, and perhaps when you are working on other aspects of your business, more enjoyable aspects, it helps you stay motivated. After all, you are probably putting all this work in to give the person in that photo a better life.

But if you are putting off getting things done, you need to remove distractions. If your eyes drift back to that gorgeous face instead of your computer screen, put the photo away.


paperworkKeep an uncluttered work space. Clutter is distracting and will make you less productive. Looking at a paper mountain will only make you overwhelmed.

Only have on your desk the thing that you are working on right now. Even if you are a multitasking diva, only have out what you are working on this second. Everything else goes away.

If you are finding the amount of paperwork difficult to cope with, create a filing system for your desk. Get some filing trays and label them ‘To Do Today’ ‘In Progress’ ‘Finished! File It’.

Everything on your desk goes into one of these trays. If it doesn’t fit one of the categories, it doesn’t belong on the desk.

Create a filing system for work that needs to be chased up. Label files 1 – 31 for each day of the month. File the work away on the date that it needs to be followed up, so say you need to follow up with a client in a week, put the notes in the file dated 7 days from now.

Create other files for finance records and completed client work.

Getting the work done.

When you are scheduled to do paperwork, take out the file with today’s date. This is your ‘to do today’ list. If you cannot complete it, put it in the ‘in progress’ tray, otherwise put it in the ‘file it’ tray.

When your hour is up, either file paperwork in the completed work or finance file or put it back in the days of the month filing system to follow up.

Having a clear desk after working on something you dislike will make you feel more productive and give you a sense of achievement.

These tasks can’t be avoided, they are essential to the smooth running of your business. By tackling any hated job regularly in this way, you will soon have your business running like clockwork.


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