Simple steps to beat overwhelm.

Productivity, Videos,

We’ve all felt overwhelm – totally frazzled with all that we’d like to do, should do or need to do buzzing round our brains. We’re left in a tizz and are totally unable to come up with a plan for any of it. Usually we shuffle around the edges, frustrated because deep down we know we’re not actually solving the problems and making progress…

How can you get past this overwhelm? Watch this episode to find out!


Hi, and welcome to another episode of BaranovTV, designed to demystify the world of accounts and tax and to help your business grow.

In this week’s episode, I wanted to talk to you about something that was triggered by a conversation I was having with an Outsourced FD client earlier in the week. She’s got an awful lot going on, and she was almost at the point of being overwhelmed by it all. There was so much that was buzzing around her head. She’d got to the point where she couldn’t see the wood for the trees. That’s overwhelm!

In that situation, one of the things that I strongly recommend is to take the time out and just do a ‘brain dump’.

We’ve all always got so many ideas and to-dos and developments. It’s hard to prioritise them and to remember, to be honest, the progress that we’ve already achieved. You get so caught up in what you’re trying to do and trying to look forward to that you forget how far you’ve come.

You kind of ignore that and start to beat yourself up.

So a ‘brain dump’ can be a really good way of drawing breath taking stock, and then getting ready to go again.

So what do I mean by a ‘brain dump’? Well, there’s various stages, so let me talk you through those.

First off, you want to sit yourself away somewhere really quiet.

Get away from everything, maybe with a cup of coffee. You want either a pad or a laptop, whatever works for you really, but some way that you can quietly just sit and dump everything that’s in your brain onto ideally a piece of paper.

When I’ve done these in the past, I used big A3 analysis pads which were ideal because you could mind map and scribble and draw and bullet points and all sorts of things. Because once you start, the things will just be tumbling over themselves to come out.

You want to capture all the things, domestic, business-wise, all your thoughts, all your worries, the ideas, the things that wake up at three in the morning, that will be really bad, or those moments of inspiration.

It’s okay to be really messy at this point, it’s only for you to see, so it doesn’t matter, and the format is really entirely up to you.

Once you’ve done all that and you’ve caught everything, start to categorise them.

So it could be just going through with a highlighter for each section, a different colour. It could be starting with another clean sheet and starting to pull together all of those action points or the things that are in the same category.

I would think about looking at those things that are actions, the things that are work-related, domestic concerns or thoughts, blog posts or marketing content or social media ideas, ideas for your customers. It could be product ideas. For us, it’s often client ideas. And those things that you need to action. Start to group them together.

Then you just need to go away.

You need to walk away from it and make yourself a coffee, go for a walk, have a conversation with a friend. Do something different, but make sure that it’s something that’s giving your head a rest, something that you’d enjoy doing ideally where you can switch off a little bit. It could be that you just do the brain dump before you go to bed, and then you go to bed.

What you’re doing is you’re giving your brain a rest. You’re giving your subconscious the opportunity to draw breath.

When you come back and you look at that list with a fresh pair of eyes, you make a plan.

You want to make a plan for every item on that list.

What you want to do is look for the quick wins. From a psychological point of view, it’s a really good thing when you’ve been in this state of overwhelm to be able to act start to think, actually, I’m crossing things off of this huge list.

So it’s all the little things which make up a lot, and just get rid of them. It could be you doing them. It could be just getting them to somebody else. But just get rid.

Once you’ve done that, you work out what you can delegate. Now, obviously we’re looking at this from a business perspective, but from a domestic perspective, it may be just getting some of those things that really take up your head space off to somebody else’s shoulders.

But within the business, you want to think about utilising your team more effectively. There are things that we all hold onto that we could delegate to others. They just add to our overwhelm. If we just gave our team the brief and the space, they would be able to step up and take them over. You could also think about using something like PeoplePerHour or Fiverr or a VA or a bookkeeper. There’re lots of different people out there that you can call on, answering services and people like that that take the pressure away from you.

But you need to actually start the process.

Once you’ve identified those things and got rid of those, then you need to prioritise what’s left.

You need to be really ruthless because we’re all, as entrepreneurs, looking at the bright and shiny, but not all of those things that we think of are absolutely necessary.

You need to go through and be really hard. Cull those things that you know aren’t actually realistic to do. They’re lovely to do, but they’re not vital, and are adding to your overwhelm. So cull those.

Work out which are the most important, the ones you really want to prioritise, and for those, you want to put a date in the diary when you’re going to start work on them. Give yourself a block of time, and the first point of that is to start to break those items down into action points and action plans. You can start to book time in your diary or somebody else’s to start to whittle away at those and to start to break them down and achieve those, the smaller steps.

The nice to-dos that you’ve decided to hang onto just need to go on a separate list to come back to at a time when you’ve got some planning time. Then you review them again and maybe actually start to implement and to put into process.

There are going to be things that aren’t task-specific.

These could be things that are bothering you, things that are stressing you. It could be that you want do more exercise or that you feel you should, things that you need to actually sort of change in your own mentality. And those things you need to actually start to set yourself appointments for or to give yourself the space to do.

It could be that you want to join a gym, and you feel you really want to go for a walk twice a week in your lunch hour, or you want to get away from work early to go and see the children, or whatever it might be.

You need to actually deal with those and book the time and make the commitment to yourself that you are going to do that because your productivity will be enhanced as a result.

Then going forwards, you want to actually go through this process, a brain dump process, on a more regular basis.

Then you won’t actually be getting into the overwhelm position in the first place. So book some time into your diary to do it. It could be on a Friday afternoon as your last chore so that you’ve got a plan for the week ahead. It could be monthly, but it needs to be whatever works for you. Think about those processes on a regular basis, and then hopefully you won’t get into that total overwhelm position.

You could use Trello to keep track of things. You can use Excel. You could use Evernote. You could just use notes on your phone. You could use a really nice notepad.

Whatever works for you is the best way for you. Try them. It would be really useful, I think, if you’ve got something like Evernote or Notability, which is just an app, that you can use across all your devices. What you want to do is get away from having separate lists and Post-its and scribbles here and scribbles there. You want to draw everything together in one place because you’ll feel more in control just because you haven’t got to think about different lists and doing different things from different ones.

So have a think about that. That’s my episode for you this week; that’s my thought starter. Try a brain dump if you’re at the point where you’re feeling even vaguely overwhelmed. And try it before you get to that point because I think it could be really useful.

So I’ll leave you with that thought, and I’ll see you all very soon.

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