Survive and thrive: How to conquer project overwhelm

Survive and Thrive: How to conquer project overwhelm from The House of Muses. Feeling swamped with your latest blog or business project? Can't seem to keep your head above the water? Click through to find out how to make small biz survival a little bit easier.

We've all been there before.

Whether it's at home, work, school, or for your own business, we've felt the pressure of a project all heaped onto our shoulders, deadline or no. Symptoms: feeling completely overwhelmed, rapid breathing, pacing, lack of progress, not knowing where to start, giving Brian Blessed a run for his money while swearing at your computer.

Remedy? Breath out the stress.

Follow these steps.




1. Prioritize.

Yeah, baby. I'm preaching the list. The List and I are close. Lovers. This list is a list of priorities, and depending on the size of your project, it might be a very, very big list. That's okay. It's going to morph into something wonderful.

First, create a list of everything you need to do in this project. Everything, big and small, core and inconsequential. Consider writing them on post-it notes or little slips of paper for easier rearranging in the next part.

Next, order these by importance. You have to be really honest with yourself here— I know I have a tendency to want to consider everything to be its own very important cog. It's a form a subtle procrastination. But the fact is, there are things your business or project can function without at the start.

You'll want to note a rough estimate of how long each item will take— be generous. A tighter schedule = more stress.

Finally, divide your list. Keep your master list somewhere easily accessible so you don't lose all your hard work, but take your top three post-its, and put them somewhere you can see them in your workspace. These are the only three tasks that exist until they're done.

Rainbow confetti will rain down upon you.

2. Drop 3.

I know. It's hard. But Lorelai and Sookie do it when they're starting their business, so you can to (See: Norman Mailer, I'm Pregnant!). Mind you, they're doing it to cut costs, and you're doing it to cut stress— but it's happening either way.

You can do them eventually, if you really want, but for now, pick three things off of your list that can go and get rid of them. If they can't go entirely (and I'm willing to bet they probably can), alter them so they're the thrift store version of your original list— it might not be as shiny, but it will work just fine. You may be wonderful, but you're not wonderwoman. No person can do absolutely everything without feeling some serious strain— and you don't have to. You do not have to be a twelve handed Entrepremonster in order to succeed. You have not failed if you scratch something unessential off of the list.

Do it. Right now. Three.

3. Stop the overflow.

Do you work from home? A lot of you fabulous folks reading this probably do! That's why you're here. Did you start working at home to avoid the 9-5?

This might not actually be the right strategy. Hold up! Before you panic and run from me, hang around for one sec. You don't necessarily need to work 9-5, or 8-4, and you CAN do it in your underpants, drinking a mimosa with the cat. But you do need to schedule your work time.

When I first started out trying to grow my blog into a business, it overflowed everywhere. All over the place. And overflow = overwhelm. Super. Great. But how to deal with this? Schedule, my friends. Set yourself hours (and I have a post right here on the best way for creatives to do this!). The beauty of working from home is that they can be whatever works for you! 7-1? 4-Noon? 8-11 & 4-8? The middle of the night? It doesn't matter, really. What matters is that you separate your work life from your home life, even though you work at home.

You wouldn't want to bring home work from a typical job and keep going after dinner, would you? Besides, it's been proven in many countries that shorter work days only means more productivity. You're not getting or giving your best when you've been in front of a computer screen for fourteen hours. Trust me. Trust yourself.

Not only will you be less miserable, but you will be giving yourself time to recharge and reassess. And have a date night, even if it's just with yourself.

4. Pause.

This one is essential, especially when considered in tandem with point 3. You will make yourself utterly stir crazy sitting at a desk for six hours a time, and putting off lunch, and that glass of water, and that pee. If you're doing this, you're not doing your best work. Repeat after me.


And you want to be doing your best work, right? That's why you're tackling a big, awesome project in the first place.

Every hour, (even if you have to write it down, or set an egg timer) get up and go outside. If you live in Canada, and it's January, maybe just crack the window for a minute. Put your nose outside. Breathe. It's good stuff. If you can, go for a walk around the block. Weed your garden for ten minutes. Lie like a cat in a sunny patch of yard. Do a few sun salutations. Drink some water (we're pretty much all dehydrated, all the time. You can almost always be drinking more water. If you really aren't jazzed by it— and I admit, some days I am so not— make some herbal iced tea).

Basically, get up, move, and get away from your computer. Aim for ten minutes of every hour and you'll never go back. No regrets.


Survive and thrive: How to conquer project overwhelm from The House of Muses

5. Accept the shit.

Working from home is great, but it's still work. It may be what you love, but Elizabeth Gilbert will tell you it still comes with a shit sandwich. Some days will suck. Some days will feel like every single thing is a struggle. If you are truly having one of these days, try to schedule the things that will make you the least crazy here. You will have to do them anyway, but if you're already in a funk mood, filming a new tutorial or attempting a persnickety recipe are guaranteed to make you want to pull your hair out. Opt for simpler, repetitive tasks (revitalizing old blog posts, anyone?) and smaller tasks that really make you feel like you're making progress. Today is not the day to redesign your whole website (I should take my own advice).

Know that this too will pass, and when you wake up tomorrow, you'll likely be facing your task list with a much better outlook.


>> If you’re struggling with procrastination, overwhelm, building good habits, and creating systems that pull you unstoppably toward your dreams, check out my newest e-course MISSION SYSTEM (which by the way comes with over $300 in discounts on other courses for creatives).