Self-Employed and Overwhelmed
Emails to answer, deadlines looming, clients calling, finance and admin tasks to complete. You are self-employed, and so all of this falls on you. Being a solopreneur is an immensely rewarding path, but it is natural to feel overwhelmed at times. In fact, you might be surprised to learn just how common it is to be self-employed and overwhelmed.
A study by Resurgo found that 70% of female entrepreneurs reported feeling overwhelmed and in turn this was impacting on their work and businesses.
That said, it is within your power to reduce your feelings of overwhelm and reduce them forming in the first place.
Here are some habits you may have unknowingly formed that increase feelings of overwhelm and discuss what you can do to help yourself overcome them.
Habits that increase self-employed overwhelm
You keep your feelings bottled up
Remember that you are not alone in the way you are feeling. Yes, you work alone, but nearly everyone experiences feelings of being overwhelmed at times. The Health & Safety Executive found that as many as 822,000 workers in the UK suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
Talking through your struggles with someone else will help you release those pent-up feelings and allow you to see the situation more clearly.
Acknowledge your feelings and reach out to a friend, family member or other small business owner to talk with. Build a network with other solopreneurs, as this will give you an invaluable source of support. They will understand the unique stresses of being self-employed and overwhelmed and be able to offer advice based on experience.
Working with a Business Coach is also immensely beneficial. This gives you a sounding board and helps you develop practical, business, and mindset strategies to beat the overwhelm.
Talking will help ease feelings of overwhelm and is one of the best investments you can make in your business.
Your goals are unclear
Goal setting and planning are crucial when you are self-employed. Otherwise, you flit from task to task with no real vision of what you’re working towards. Accordingly, you begin to feel like you are always busy but never actually achieving anything. This leaves you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated
Did you ever hear the saying “fail to plan and plan to fail”? You need a clear plan of action that details exactly what you need to do to achieve your goals to get the results you want. Planning will help you to prioritize your tasks and allow you to focus your time on what matters most. You’ll be able to take purposeful action and reduce overwhelm.
Working with a business coach will help you grow the skills you need to set clear goals. Pinpointing your goals, and planning how you will achieve them, helps you organize your time and resources efficiently so that you have the best chance of achieving them.
You have trouble saying NO
The temptation is always there to take on more work when you are self-employed. However, spreading yourself too thin inevitably leaves you feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.
Saying no doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or that you aren’t efficient enough. Saying no is the smart way to fast-track your success as you will be able to prioritize activities that will bring you the most benefit.
Consider each new request with a critical eye and ask yourself whether this piece of work takes you closer to meeting your business goals.
Saying no to the ‘nice-to-dos’ will help you focus on the ‘must-dos’ and schedule in work that continues to build your business by delivering results.
Look at your ‘To Do’ list and ask yourself if you can simply say no to any of the tasks. You are in control of your task list and your calendar. Only you can overbook yourself, and only you can say no to requests for your time.
Trying to please everyone
This is linked to the point above. Being a people pleaser by nature means saying no is often incredibly hard for you.
The temptation is strong in the early days of establishing your business –to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, even if it does not match your skill set. It feels counterintuitive to turn work down when you’re trying to grow your business. However, when you spread yourself too thin, you will find yourself too overwhelmed to focus fully on the work you do for your ideal clients.
Understanding – and staying loyal to – your niche is essential. Are you familiar with the saying ‘Jack of all trades, master of none?” This applies to business. Identify what you are good at, focus your marketing on the right people and build your business by offering clearly defined products and services.
You try to do everything yourself
Although you are a sole trader, that doesn’t mean you have to do every single thing yourself!
We all have aspects of business that we struggle with – either due to a lack of time, a lack of inclination, or because they fall outside of our skill set. Consider outsourcing them.
Accountants, virtual assistants, social media execs, and SEO specialists, can all be employed on an ad hoc freelance basis to help you as and when you need it.
Many solopreneurs get bogged down in things that might be necessary but don’t actually help their businesses grow. There are only so many hours in the day, and effective outsourcing helps you free some up.
Stop trying to do it all yourself and you’ll have more free time and be able to work on the things that make a bigger difference to your bottom line.
You neglect your downtime
Being self-employed and overwhelmed with work, you might feel it is impossible to take a break to relax. Before you know it, you are working all hours to meet deadlines or keep on top of your social media. You never let a full day pass without doing some kind of business task. It is an easy habit to fall into and a hard one to break. The result is that you end up feeling burnt out and overwhelmed.
Going back to my earlier point on planning and goal setting – prioritizing these things batches your time more effectively. As a result, you will have more opportunities to take those valuable rest days.
Start scheduling and automating your social media posts. Scheduling your posts takes a huge pressure off you feeling like you have to post each day. This means you can enjoy your downtime and take a much-needed break.
Final thoughts on being self-employed and overwhelmed
Feeling overwhelmed is nothing to be ashamed of and it doesn’t mean that you are failing. Paying attention to these feelings and taking steps to mitigate them is proof that you are proactively looking after yourself and your business.
I can help you reorganize your time and mindset If you are self-employed and overwhelmed. Book your free 30-minute consultation to find out how to structure your days to achieve the optimum work/life balance and minimize the feelings of overwhelm.