3 steps to immediately beat overwhelm This is a guest post by Eleanor Mayrhofer.

Running a small creative business requires wearing a lot of different hats, and keeping a lot of different plates spinning. While most of us wouldn’t have it any other way, one of the side effects can be finding ourselves overwhelmed.

Keeping on top of everything we have to do in our businesses (let alone our personal lives) can rob of us of our creative energy, calm, productivity and sometimes even sleep. Ideas, concerns and to-do’s swirl around our heads like a closed room full of wild bats.

When this state of affairs threatens to drive us past the breaking point, there are three simple steps you can take to press the ‘reset’ button.


1. Write it all down

Get every single to do item out of your head and on to a piece of paper (or a digital task list). I mean everything: fulfilling orders, taking your cat to the vet, calling your mum, scheduling Facebook posts, dealing with email. Your head should not be your ‘to do’ list. Your head should be a clear, clean space, whose sole purpose is functioning as your creative nerve centre.


2. Put it on a timeline

Once you’ve got your list out of your head, make a short assessment of the time frame you need to tackle everything. Plot each item down on a calendar. This isn’t a substitute for regular planning, so don’t get to detailed. Just plot the items down on a timeline so you have a general sense of when you’ll be able to get to each item.


3. Do the first ‘hard’ thing on your list

We all have things that give us a twinge of dread or guilt when we think about them. Monthly taxes, coming up with a new design line, writing that pitch email. This thing is mentally hanging around your neck, blocking your energy and keeping you from a sense of calm.

Do it. Do it now.

You’ll feel much better when you get it off your plate, and the timeline you just created won’t seem so daunting.

Allow 90 minutes to 2 hours to do this exercise. It may feel counter-intuitive to stop when you feel like there’s so much to do, but it’s exactly the right way to stop the madness.

Bonus tip: If you can, do something physical before you do this exercise. Take a 15 minute walk, do some deep breathing exercises or a few yoga poses.  These are all excellent ways to get yourself into a more relaxed state which will help the process of emptying your brain.


These three steps are a quick way to regain a sense of calm and order.

This exercise doesn’t substitute having a solid project and time management process in place, but it’s a handy ’emergency’ technique if it all becomes too much.


eleanor_mayrhofer_hellohandmadeEleanor Mayrhofer is the ‘e.m.’ behind her printable stationery business e.m.papers, which she runs full time. She’s also the person behind Steal This Process (This site/resource is no longer available), where she shares what she learned as a creative project manager at a global digital agency and how she applies it to her business. She’s currently offering a project and time management course tailored to small creative business, learn more about it here (This site/resource is no longer available) {aff*}.

Photo by Barbro_Uppsala

{*I’m an affiliate of Eleanor’s course – in fact, I’m going to be taking it myself! I can’t wait, goodness knows I could use a better system for getting everything done. I’m not the only one, right?}

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