5 Tips to Manage Overwhelm


Taming overwhelm seems to be one of the most pervasive challenges today. Just about everybody is overwhelmed and stressed about time, responsibilities, deadlines and worries. 

The exact solution to managing your overwhelm will depend on what the source of your overwhelm is. You can also be suffering from more than one source of overwhelm. Here are five tips to help you manage the most common sources of overwhelm. 

1. Find support.

Is your overwhelm related to your packed schedule? If so, one solution is to get some help in the form of contractors, employees, or volunteers. A quick fix is to list five to ten of the most mundane daily or weekly tasks you do, and hire and train an intern on a part-time basis to do those tasks for you.

Even a few hours a week to start will be a big relief. You’ll be surprised at how much you can delegate once you break down the parts of a job and see how much of it can be systematized.

2. Set boundaries.

Is your overwhelm due to client demands? Learn how to control the flow and limit the channels of inbound requests for your time and expertise. A couple of ways to do that include cutting off certain communications:

  • Schedule all phone calls. Don’t answer an unscheduled call. If this sounds impossible, try doing it one day a week to start with. Let your clients know you’ll be available for them four days a week, but the fifth day is for you.   
  • Limit the communication channels that you will respond to. Don’t answer faxes or social media messages, as an example. 
  • Check email only twice a day. I know. We’re addicted, and this is much harder to do than it sounds. 
  • Minimize re-work. Don’t start on a project until you have everything from the client. Stopping, starting, reviewing, and getting back up to speed makes us far less productive.

There are many other ways you can set boundaries, but this is a start. 

3. Prioritize. 

Is your overwhelm due to wanting to have it all? A lot of times we stay busy doing things that are urgent but not important. Then we get overwhelmed because we do not get to the important things. One way to solve this is to put your to-do list in priority order. Carve out at least one hour a day to work on the most important thing on your list. Some coaches call this your Power Hour. You’ll be thrilled at how much progress you will make in just one week. 

And if you just can’t get to the important things right now, make a “Great ideas for later” list so you can hit the ground running after busy season is over.

4. Carve out de-stress time.

Is your overwhelm mostly emotional (for whatever reason)? Critical for your emotional well-being is to make time for laughter, relaxation, friends, family, and whatever you do to blow off steam. Our mindset, moods, and overall mental state can contribute mightily to overwhelm.  We now know from neuroscience that learning how to de-stress is a set of skills everyone can acquire and significantly benefit from. It’s a field called resilience if you want to Google more about it. 

5. Perspective and purpose.

Is your overwhelm due to a variety of factors? When times get overwhelming, what keeps me going is maintaining perspective and understanding my purpose in life. It’s important not to blow little things out of proportion. If I’ve had a tough day, I remember that I don’t live in a war zone, I’m not in prison or held hostage, there hasn’t been a hurricane or flood, and I haven’t been a crime victim. My “tough day” suddenly becomes a great day, and if I got to spend even a minute helping someone or serving my purpose, then all the better.

Author Bio: Sandi Leyva, CPA, CMA, MBA, and founder of Accountant’s Accelerator, has helped thousands of tax and accounting professionals earn more, work less, and serve their clients better through her innovative marketing, training, and coaching services. Author of 30 books and hundreds of CPE courses, Sandi has won 12 awards for her thought leadership. Visit her at accountantsaccelerator.com and acceleratorwebsites.com

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