Stop the overwhelm. - Kristen Kalp

Stop the overwhelm.

When I talk to peeps about the most frustrating aspects of their businesses, they generally tell me that a.) they want to make more money and b.) they’re overwhelmed.

If you can’t handle what you currently have going on, adding more will only stress you out further.  Thus, being overwhelmed is the natural starting point for entering into a more meaningful and profitable business.

Let’s stop the overwhelm. This is a tiny portion of Phase One of the Steer Your Ship curriculum, to help you figure out whether it’s right for you.

You can listen to this on the podcast, or keep reading for the text version!

First, let’s talk muggling. I define muggling as ‘all those tasks that aren’t particularly magical but that keep you alive, functioning, and earning dollars as a business owner.’

Checking your email, for example, isn’t particularly sexy and doesn’t appear on the top of everyone’s OH HOLY WOW AMAZING list, but it’s an absolutely vital part of your business. Thus, it’s muggilng.

When you feel overwhelmed in your business, which is quite often for most of the peeps I talk to, muggling often comes into play. You avoid it, so it piles up, so it gets more unmanageable, so you do less of it, so it gets even more out of control, and on and on the cycle goes until you find yourself curled in the fetal position, staring at the 16,423 unread messages notice on your email app.

Stop the Overwhelm Question #1: which muggling is currently out of control?

In other words, what has you feeling buried, overwhelmed, or hopeless? I’m guessing that it’s your inbox, your voicemail box, your DMs, and/or any other way of communicating that gets a little full, and then a lot full, and then you throw up your hands and decide you’ll never get out from under it.

Now is the perfect time to schedule inbox management on your calendar, or to declare email bankruptcy and begin again. Find any peeps interested in your products or services that are hanging out, reply to them immediately with an offer (here’s how to make one), and then archive everything else. Sometimes starting fresh is the only way out of the mess.

Stop the Overwhelm Question #2: which muggling is absolutely, positively under your control, no matter how much time it takes up and how many people point out that maybe you don’t need to do that task?

Often, it isn’t absolutely necessary that you’re the person who handles a task in your business. You might be good at it, and you might even find it fun, but that doesn’t mean you have to be in charge of it forever. For me, that means building a new website with the help of another human instead of attempting to DIY that shit. (Yes, I can do it, and NO, I don’t want to, ’cause it makes me tired and uses all my juice.)

For you, it might mean hiring a VA to help you keep your inbox somewhat manageable, or having someone else handle the mundane tasks that eat hours of your week, every single week.

Maybe it’s getting passwords and logins to students, or editing photos ::cough every photographer ever needs someone else to do this cough::, or making tweaks to your online presence because you’re really not particularly techy but you keep trying to be, or insisting that you absolutely must have a social media presence on X platform when really, you don’t have to do that at all.

Which everyday tasks would give you the most time back if you gave up control of them?

Start there. Even if it’s hard, or it hurts, or you have to deep breathe and scream into pillows because you’re sure he/she/they will fuck it up. (Hint: they probably won’t.)

Stop the Overwhelm Question #3: which muggling tasks do you enjoy?

Keep it without guilt. If you actually like searching hashtags, writing captions, and choosing the perfect images for Instagram, keep doing it. If you actually like cleaning the bathroom, or making dinner, or graphic design — again, keep doing it. I’m pretty darn picky when it comes to foods, so I make my own meals and shop for groceries on my own because WHAT IF THEY PICK UP THE WRONG THING OR THEY PICK THE FAT CUCUMBER. I like the skinny ones, not the fat ones, and that level of detail passed to someone else is just too damn much. If you’re picky and you know it, and getting rid of it would take six times more time than doing the thing yourself, it’s okay to keep a thing.

If you think you *should* like something but really don’t, be honest with yourself. And then keep reading.

Stop the Overwhelm Question #4: which muggling absolutely blows?

Permission to ditch it, granted.

Maybe you can’t ditch it all at once, like OKAY COOL I JUST HIRED SOMEONE TO REWRITE AND REDESIGN MY WEBSITE FOR TEN GRAND, THANKS KRISTEN FOR THE IDEA, but you can absolutely hire someone to take care of a nagging task or two.

I’ve hired people to make custom blog headers and footers, to design PDFs, to switch up my hosting companies (DNS server hell no I’m not messing with that), and to optimize my website for loading time in the past few months. I have many interests, but optimizing the loading time of my website via image compression isn’t one of them. (I use Alison of Tiny Blue Orange, and here’s an interview with her if you also need help handling your DNS’s!)

Stop the Overwhelm Question #5: are you an every damn day worker or a batch worker?

In other words: do you prefer to batch your large tasks or to work on them steadily, day by day?

I’m a batcher by nature, so I’ll have a few moderately productive days and then one day, WHAM HOLY SHIT I GOT A WEEK’S WORTH OF STUFF DONE. My energy comes in big fits (see: if the sun is shining I have 30% more energy), and so my work gets done in big fits.

Trying to get me to work on things for 20 minutes a day, every day, instead of devoting big chunks of time to ongoing projects is okay — I’ll tap in and do the work — but my biggest changes and plot developments come all at once, in quite intense bursts.

And you? How do you work? Do you get overwhelmed by seeing the bulk of a thing, so you prefer to have one task at a time in front of you, or do you love seeing the big picture and chipping away at it from a bird’s eye view?

The way you work matters.

There’s no right or wrong here, there’s only acknowledging the ways that you work, and then building those preferences into your daily rhythm. Give a batcher 5 20-minute tasks to do and she’ll be struggling; give an every damn day worker 9 hours of free, unstructured time to accomplish a gargantuan task and they’ll run screaming for the hills.

Acknowledge your nature. Then work with it.

One of my favorite things about coaching is that I always schedule one work day without coaching calls. That leaves me free to take this show on the road and work from a coffee shop or from outside to my heart’s content. It also leaves me free to follow my batching nature to work on big projects without interruption.

You can do the same thing by scheduling a muggling day, a freedom day, a writing day, or a working-from-anywhere-you-want day — if not once a week, then at least once a month.

This really can be as simple as adding a different way of working to your calendar and then taking the appropriate steps to make sure you’ve got your regular tasks cleared to enjoy that working day as much as possible.

Here are the questions one more time:

Which muggling is currently out of control?
Which muggling is absolutely, positively under your control, no matter how much time it takes up and how many people point out that maybe you don’t need to do that task?
Which muggling tasks do you enjoy?
Which muggling absolutely blows?
Are you an every damn day worker or a batch worker?

Finally: what are three tasks you can add to or remove from your calendar in the name of stopping the overwhelm?

Write ’em down, and then actually add or remove them. I know you’re now overwhelmed by how overwhelmed you are, but I promise that getting the swirling tasks out of your brain and either onto or off of your calendar is massively helpful.

Again, this has been a tiny portion of Phase One of the Steer Your Ship curriculum!

If you’ve found this helpful, schedule a call to talk with me about Steer Your Ship, or download the Steer Your Ship brochure.  We can stop your particular overwhelm together.

P.S.  No more business frappuccinos.