Running a firm is no mean feat - especially in the current climate. So it's no surprise that many business owners are feeling overwhelmed. (After all, managing a company is difficult enough without the stress of an impending recession or a cost-of-living crisis.)
Thankfully, we're here to help you overcome these challenging times by discussing how to deal with overwhelm in a practical and constructive way
Work smarter not harder
From a young age, we're (often) taught that the remedy for feeling overwhelmed is to work even harder. However, in most cases, this simply isn't true.
By the time we have reached the point of overwhelm, working harder only exacerbates the problem. Yet, instead of addressing the root of our problems, we bury ourselves in work, increasing our stress levels and straining our mental health. In turn, we suffer from brain fog and subsequent issues like difficulty solving problems, retaining attention and processing information. None of which are conducive to a productive, creative professional.
So before we dive into how to deal with overwhelm, remember, the answer is not to work harder! There are plenty of ways to work smarter, including joining The Accountants´ Growth Club.
Identify the root cause
As we previously mentioned, the answer to how to deal with overwhelm is not to work harder. Instead, you need to identify the root cause of your stress and anxiety. For example, it could be a particular client or employee, a certain project or the impending financial recession.
Once you have identified the primary source(s) of your stress, it is much easier to start working towards a solution. You can do this by writing down the actionable steps you need to take to reduce or remove this source of anxiety from your current workload. (Need help? Download our recording on ´How to create a 3-year growth plan for your practice´ for free here)
5 steps for dealing with overwhelm
Now that we've established how not to deal with overwhelm, here are five actionable steps you can use to help reduce your stress and overcome your primary source of anxiety:
1. Prioritise quick ticks
As a practice owner, you have a hundred and one things on your mind - which is why you often find yourself with an overwhelming (sometimes insurmountable) to-do list. So, how should you address this?
One of the best strategies for how to deal with overwhelm is to rank your to-do list. Start by identifying which tasks are quick ticks and which require a lot more time and concentration. Then, set aside a couple of hours to plough through your shorter/simpler tasks. (Remember, 80% of the items on your list will likely only take 20% of your time.)
By working through your quick ticks, you can quickly reduce your giant to-do list, helping you feel less overwhelmed and, in turn, more clearheaded to tackle higher-value tasks and challenges.
2. Avoid working on weekends
It's all too easy to view the weekend as an opportunity to get your head down and work uninterrupted for two days straight - no clients, no employees, just you and your business. However, this is neither healthy nor sustainable.
Creating and expanding a successful practice is not a short-term endeavour. Therefore, you must maintain a realistic work schedule - otherwise, you'll inevitably succumb to burnout. So stop using your weekends to handle work overflow. Instead, take some time to rest and switch off. If you cannot complete all of your work within the week, this is a clear indicator that you need to start delegating more or turning down additional responsibilities. Although saying no may seem wrong at first, you’ll quickly realise that being transparent about your capacity will only benefit you and your clients.
3. Accept that done is better than perfect
It's no secret that you've worked tirelessly to reach this point in your career. So it's only natural that you want your practice to be the best it can be. However, always aiming for perfection will only induce stress and make you feel overwhelmed.
Therefore, if you're serious about learning how to deal with overwhelm, you have to accept that done is better than perfect. Why? Because who suffer from perfectionism:
- Take longer to complete projects
- Often feel more stressed and overwhelmed
- Avoid taking (sometimes necessary) risks
None of these qualities will benefit you as a business owner. So, instead of always aiming for perfection, learn when a piece of client work is good enough.
4. Identify which tasks are actually urgent
There will be times throughout your career when you cannot get everything done within your proposed timescale. And so, you have to reprioritise. However, delaying deadlines can cause a lot of anxiety. So what do we suggest?
Our best advice for how to deal with overwhelm in this situation is to simply accept the circumstances for what they are. So, rather than worrying and trying to appease everyone, focus on prioritising your most urgent task. Nine times out of ten, you already know which task takes precedence. But, if you're unsure, your inbox will almost always reveal the answer.
5. Delegate low-value tasks
Delegation is a crucial component of any successful firm. After all, you cannot run a widely acclaimed business entirely alone. So, don't be afraid to delegate.
Instead of going it alone, try delegating lower-value tasks to other employees or freelancers. Remember, as the firm owner, your focus should be on the firm's future. So don't spend all of your time working with clients. Instead, focus your energy on developing strategies and growth plans, and let other people handle tasks like creating slide decks for seminars.
Don’t ignore your emotions
As a firm owner, you might think you need to feel in control 100% of the time. But this won't always be the case - and that's okay. You are allowed to feel overwhelmed. Ignoring the feeling and soldiering on will only exacerbate the problem. So instead of squashing your stress, adopt these techniques to help you learn how to deal with overwhelm efficiently and effectively.
Want to reduce overwhelm? Here´s how to create a 3-year growth plan for your practice
2. How to get your team excited and motivated to deliver your growth plan with you
3. How to use a ONE BIG FOCUS to ensure the day job, as well as the growth plan, gets implemented.