According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 26% of Americans are on the verge of a nervous breakdown. (I can bet a good chunk of them are fashion business owners).
From the outside looking in, fashionpreneurs are invincible. They appear confident, driven, and ultra-fabulous. But let’s face it – 9/10 you’re stressed, pressed, and in a race with time. As a solopreneur, conquering overwhelm often seems impossible.
How do you close the gap between your power-house persona and your frantic, day-to-day grind?
It starts with a new perspective. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that means that you’re challenging yourself to do something you’ve NEVER done before and that is the DEFINITION of growth. (go ahead, pat yourself on the back for that!)
Conquering Overwhelm Starts with Knowing Its Root. . . Rumination!
Between lofty self-expectations, consumer demands, countless distractions, and the overall stress of managing a profitable business – overwhelm seems inevitable. But these factors are not overwhelming in and of themselves. They are overwhelming because of the way we CHOOSE to think about them.
We have too many open loops running around in our heads every day. A big part of conquering overwhelm is learning to differentiate between fruitless ruminations and productive thoughts. From there we can start clearing out the fruitless thoughts and transforming the productive thoughts into something TANGIBLE and ACTIONABLE. Your mind is prime intellectual real estate and it can’t perform if it’s struggling to keep track of every floating idea and random to-do. This leads us to our exercise – inspired by Motivational and Productivity Psychologist, Jim Stone.
Overwhelm is a Mental-Organization Problem
You Need to Create a Mental “Funneling” System (And then Make it a Lifestyle).
STEP ONE: BRAIN DUMP!
Get a huge sheet of paper or start a word doc. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and write down every thought, concern, and idea you have. Just go, without stopping until the timer is up. Let EVERY thought out on this sheet of paper. . . therapeutic right?
STEP TWO: MENTAL SORTING
On another document, make three columns labeled: “Active Concern” “Maybe Later” and “Delete.” Funnel every thought from your original brain dump page into one of these columns and don’t overthink it! The “Active Concern” column represents your priorities. Think of the “Maybe Later” column as a “not-to-do” list. It keeps valuable, yet less important thoughts off of your priority list. But they’re still written and safe, so you don’t have to force your conscious brain to remember them. “Delete” is simply delete! All of your ruminations, worries, and expired ideas go here.
STEP THREE: PRUNING & RELEASING
You’ll likely notice that your “Active Concern” column is larger than the other two columns. The goal of this step is to move as many of the “Active Concerns” to the “Maybe Later” and “Delete” columns- the “Delete” column being the most ideal.
Pruning your “Active Concern” column (aka prioritizing) is the most challenging part. That’s because it’s hard to let most of your old ideas and thought patterns go. Most of the tasks we add to our to-do lists are results of anxiety; deeply ingrained, non-productive habits; or simple people-pleasing. This is your time to edit ruthlessly. Be honest with yourself and remember don’t overthink it! Overthinking takes up way too much mental energy that we’re trying to conserve! When in doubt, move it to the “Maybe Later” column. Even if you’re debating between “Delete” and “Maybe Later” – keeping it in “Maybe Later” will remove the pressure to remember it once its “gone.” If you’re debating between “Maybe Later” and “Active Concern” – add it to “Maybe Later” to edit down your active concerns and still feel mentally secure – knowing your thought is written down safe and OUT of your conscious mind!
Do this step on the following day so you can approach it from a fresh, birds-eye view. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you do this:
- Remember you only have 24 hours in a day. Is this something you really have time for? Is this REALLY important to you and your end-goals?
- Is this idea/task result of people-pleasing or reaching societal expectations? Is this something you should have said “no” to? Who decided this was important?
- What would happen if you decided you weren’t going to do this?
- Is this idea/task stemming from self-critical belief? Is this born from worry and anxiety?
- Is this something that I can control?
Once you’re finished, say goodbye to everything that made it to your “Delete” column and trash it! This action will signal to your brain that it’s no longer relevant!
STEP FOUR: ORGANIZE & PLAN
This is where we move from “Mind-Clearing” to “Productivity.” For this step, either gather four physical notebooks or start four digital files labeled “Mind Clearing” “Maybe Later” “Active Projects” and “Project Planning.” Keeping four separate files/notebooks will help your brain learn to differentiate your thoughts on a habitual basis.
- Use your “Mind Clearing” file/notebook for your initial brain dumping and sorting (steps 1-3).
- Transfer your active concerns and priorities to your “Active Project” file/notebook.
- Transfer your “not-to-do” list of lesser important concerns to your “Maybe Later” file/notebook.
- Break down the goals/projects from your “Active Projects” into actionable steps and efficient systems in your “Project Planning” file/notebook.
STEP FIVE: REPEAT!
Now that you have permanent and TANGIBLE mental storage centers- your brain can focus on your present tasks- allowing higher brain function, more creativity and less fatigue! This is not just a one-time activity but an ESSENTIAL lifestyle habit. I’d recommend mind-clearing at least once a week- use the same process and update. It doesn’t take long for junk to pile up again!
Conquering Overwhelm on a Physical Level
There are several practical steps towards conquering overwhelm such as daily meditation, automating/ delegating, and single-tasking instead of multi-tasking. However, all of these are MOST effective after we become masters of decluttering and prioritizing. Everything starts with mindset.
Because, successful people are not the ones with the most ideas, but the people who can identify the best ideas and let the rest go!Fashion Angel Warrior
Now that you’ve gotten the psychological part down, it’s time to master your daily operations. Conquering overwhelm is both mental and physical! Download our FREE RESOURCE, "Productivity Enhancers for Fashion Start-Ups" here and start conquering overwhelm TODAY!
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