Killing your artificial deadlines

By Adunke Olatunji

There’s nothing more crippling than feeling overwhelmed. Whether you’re being struck down by anxiety or drowning in a never-ending to-do list, it’s important to remember that this overwhelming feeling will pass. E-commerce entrepreneurs, especially, experience these feelings as they build their online stores. From panicking over their lack of sales to adding an entire collection of products online, there are so many tasks and challenges to manage. What’s harder is that you might be doing all this work, alone. So let’s break down how to get more stuff off your plate to create an easier workload for you.

Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Hire yourself and start calling the shots.

1. You Don’t Need to Do Everything Today

It’s time to kill your artificial deadlines. You know, the deadlines that we set for ourselves that we didn’t really put any thought into. If there’s one thing people suck at estimating, it’s the amount of time a project will take. Plus, we kind of forget to take mental energy into account. You could be one of the most ambitious go-getters out there, but even you need a break every now and then. We all do. So take a look at what you’re working on and ask yourself, “Do I really need to finish this today or can I ask for an extension?” Pick the tasks that really are urgent and focus on those first. But give yourself more time to do it. And don’t forget to schedule free time or mental breaks. Your sanity is an important part of success.

2.  It’s Okay to Have Work-Life Balance

If you believe in hustle, hustle, hustle you might find yourself regretting it at some point. Work can be rewarding, fulfilling, and meaningful. But so can friendships, family, hobbies, travel, volunteering, and relaxation. You can still be successful in your entrepreneurial projects while injecting some fun and leisure into your day. You can look at a billionaire and be envious of his or her bank account. What you don’t realize is that he or she might be envious of your happy marriage, sense of peace, or smile. Don’t blindly assume that success is about outworking someone. Having a thoughtful approach can help you achieve success. If you have time in your day to reflect, learn, and make strategic decisions, you’re better off than someone working themselves to the ground. Your best business ideas usually come in the shower, during long walks, or while exercising. Not while you work. Remember that the next time work leaves you feeling overwhelmed.

3. Remember Why You Started

Is there a big cause that drives you? Or do you want to make enough money to retire early? We all have a reason for wanting to start a business. What’s yours? Write it down on a piece of paper so you don’t forget. When overwhelming feelings start looming, remind yourself that your goal is bigger than any negative feeling in the world. If you want to make enough money to feed your family this month, you need to put your energy into making that happen. So tell your brain to quiet down because what you’re working on is too important for any negative thoughts to take over. Make your workspace all about your goal. Put post it notes around your desk that state your goal. Send yourself a scheduled email to remind you about your goal once a week. Setting reminders of your why will help you stay focused even when feeling overwhelmed.

4. Break Things Up into Smaller Chunks

When you start feeling overwhelmed, break things down into smaller chunks. Instead of having a goal of $1,000 by the end of the month, create a goal of making $250 each week. You can also break down projects into smaller tasks to divide the work of a project over a longer span of time. Breaking down the individual tasks allows you to see how much work goes into the finished project. By seeing that, you might adjust your timelines to give you enough time to complete a task well. It also helps you avoid procrastination – the ultimate cause of feeling overwhelmed. You can use a free tool like Google Calendar to set daily tasks and organize your schedule.

5. Give into Your Emotions Right Now

Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed and the stress is too much to bear, give into your emotions. If you feel like crying, head to a private place to cry. If you feel like taking a nap then by all means, do that now. Maybe all you really need right now is a hug, ask for it. Your body will always tell you what you need to do, just don’t be afraid to give into it. It’s better to take care of yourself when a problem is still small than to allow it to escalate it to a point of no return.

6. Remember That Less is More

Are you guilty of always adding more work to your plate? Instead of helping with one project you offer to help with five. Or instead of adding 10 products to your store, you set the ambitious goal of adding 100. If you’re looking to find the cause of feeling overwhelmed, you might find it in your yes. Saying yes to everything is a surefire way to burnout. If you’re running a store by yourself, you might not be able to try every marketing strategy out there. But you can pick one to master. Take a look at your to do list. Now be honest, what will you actually be able to handle doing? Here are some examples to start with:

Only add 10 products to your store

Focus on ONE high-impact marketing channel: Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Google ads

Delegate tasks that take time (e.g., writing unique content, customer service, posting on social media)

Delegate tasks that you’re not good at (e.g., designing social graphics, creating video content)

7. Schedule Planning Time

You can work yourself into the ground but if you don’t think about what you’re working on your results will be abysmal. Thoughtfulness creates high-impact results. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed because you’re constantly executing but getting mediocre results, you might want to try this out. Each week schedule thinking time. Maybe set aside an hour or so at the start of any important marketing task.

For example, say you want to create a blog post for your website. Before writing about your chosen topic, ask yourself, “How am I going to market this?” By asking yourself this, you think about your marketing strategy prior to creating your content to help you deliver better results. If you’re going to optimize it for search, you’ll want to make sure you have keywords that have thousands of monthly searches to help you generate traffic. If you’re looking to get more social traction, you might include quotes from niche influencers who will share the article with their audience. That way, when you publish your article, your content has the marketing element built into it to make it a success.

8. You Can Always Delegate Tasks

One of the biggest causes of feeling overwhelmed comes down to crazy high workloads. You know you don’t have to do everything by yourself, right? I mean, there are 7 billion people on the planet, there’s got to be quite a few who’d be willing to help you. Maybe you can find an intern who’s looking to get credits for school. Or hire someone overseas to complete some of the repetitive tasks that take up too much of your day. You can also install Shopify apps or start doing more marketing automation. The most successful people delegate tasks so that they can focus on higher impact projects. Don’t aim to be the person who runs the business but instead owns it. So, delegate, delegate, delegate to get more stuff off your plate.

9. Don’t Blow it Up

Most of us have a tendency to blow things a little bit out of proportion. We ask someone out on a date, they reject us, and our entire self-worth gets questioned by one interaction. We create one, let’s be honest, mediocre ad, it fails, and we question our competence. A customer sends an email asking for a refund and we fall into a temporary depression. None of these situations are life or death. But we magnify them to make them feel like bigger problems than they actually are. Truth is, in life, you’re going to get dumped, rejected, negative feedback, complaints, and deal with a whole lot of less than pleasant stuff. But those minor hiccups along the way, they’re not dealbreakers, they’re gamechangers. Setbacks help you do two things: move closer to success and re-evaluate some decisions to make better ones.

10. Turn Off Your Brain

The secret to shutting down feelings of overwhelming anxiety is to turn off your brain for at least half an hour a day. What activities work best at keeping any negative thoughts from spiraling out of control? A little trick I do to shut down the negativity is jump rope. Whenever I jump rope, I articulate exactly what I’m doing. So that the whole time I’m exercising I’m either saying “jump” or “darn”… Okay, maybe not darn but you get the point. By saying what you’re doing out loud, it forces you to become present in the activity. The benefit of doing activities that turn off your brain is that you get a chance to recharge your batteries and lower any anxiety caused by feeling overwhelmed.

11. Remember that Failure is Part of the Process

Fear of failure can often lead you to feel overwhelmed. Maybe you set a goal to make $1,000 by the end of the month. And you check your Shopify dashboard to realize that you’ve still made $0 on the last day. The sinking feeling starts and you become hopeless. “I can’t do this.” And it’s true, you can’t do this. But not because you actually aren’t capable of doing it. It’s because you immediately put a mental block on yourself for no reason.

In the moment where you realize you’re not going to hit a goal, you need to pivot. Whatever you’ve been doing all along has either been getting you closer to your first sale or is exactly what you shouldn’t be doing. Are you increasing your Instagram followers and engagement? Yes? Good. Keep doing that. Are people clicking onto your website from your Facebook ad? No? Okay, try promoting different products, targeting different ad audience, or marketing on a different platform.

No one becomes an overnight success. So instead, build the right foundation to become a success year from now. And if you failed today, celebrate! Because that means you’re already 100 steps ahead of everyone who didn’t even bother to try or gave up too soon.

Olatunji is President, Tabitha New Life Foundation

Published By: EDITOR

CARL UMEGBORO is a prolific writer, public affairs analyst and an Associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom). He holds a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB Hons) and a renowned columnist in all national newspapers in Nigeria, Africa Press Reviews, TheWorldNEWS and numerous foreign media including Park Chester Times, New York, USA. Umegboro is a regular guest-analyst to many TV and radio programme on crucial national issues. To send your opinions, articles and reports to the Admin, contact: +234 (0) 802 318 4542, +234 (0) 705 710 1974, +234 (0) 817 318 4542. Email: carl@carlumegboro.com, umegborocarl@gmail.com

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