Because thinking strategically and business planning is not generally in the comfort zone for many creatives, one of the most common challenges facing my strategy consulting clients and creatives who have been to my workshops is overwhelm. Once people get grounded about what it really takes to run a thriving, successful business in the arts (or in fact any industry), it is very common that they get extremely overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. So if you are feeling swamped and overwhelm is threatening to consume you, here are 5 strategies to help ease up the strain.

1) Breathe

Take a breather. Go for a walk, do some creating for the fun of creating, go and have coffee with a friend, watch some nonsense TV on Netflix, get out a good movie and take a breath. Allow your system to calm down and give the new ideas or new approaches a chance to integrate and settle. Thinking in a different way or trying new habits or new techniques is really challenging. Working your business and restructuring how you tackle things in the most efficient way is really tiring and can be extremely overwhelming. So give yourself a chance to take it all in and let it settle.

2) Practice

Practice makes perfect, or at least heaps easier and a fair bit better. Don’t expect that right from the start you’re going to nail everything. Putting in place strategies and systems, thinking in a different way and taking care of areas in your business that have perhaps been long neglected is a big job and chances are you won’t nail it all straight away. That is totally okay. Give yourself a chance to practice and engrain some new habits. You’re building a new muscle in a sense. You’re working out a part of your brain that has probably not really have been given much of a run, give your self some time to get match fit.

3) Start

If your overwhelm is on account of burn out then once you’ve had a chance to take a breather get started. For those of you who are overwhelmed at the thought of commencing then this one is even more so for you. Start taking some actual steps towards your end goal. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by the bigger picture that we just go into shut down. So rather than that take a look at all the things there are to do and pick some of the easiest things to tick off your list and just get them done. Enjoy the sense of achievement that there is from getting things moving, this will give you traction.

4) Slow Down

Checkout the time planning fallacy. Have you just scheduled way too much in to such a degree that no matter how dillegent and hard working you are it is simply not achievable in the time and resources available? A lot of the time we feel overwhelmed because we stay stack way too much on our plates. We’re trying to sprint what is essentially a marathon. Running your own business and doing it in a way that is sustainable and strategic is a long term plan. We’re working towards the big picture and the big vision. These things take time. Sometimes we race through tasks in a way that is really unrealistic and which generally just leaves to burn out. (I am so guilty of this so trust me I know how this ends!) Take a good look at what you’re trying to achieve and the time frames you’re trying to achieve them in. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed chances are you’re packing things in too hard and too fast.

5) Get Help

How about outsourcing? There are super cheap and super easy ways of taking some jobs off your plate. Sure some things might not get done as well as if you did them yourself. On the flipside they might get done a heap better because they are outside your genius zone, often when we’re overwhelmed it’s because we don’t have skills to acheive these tasks. Check where you can invest a little bit of money to take something off your plate. This might mean a cleaner or babysitter to buy you extra hours to work on your business. It’s not about copping out in areas where you need to learn the skills but if there is something you know you really don’t have the skill base to achieve, the time to implement or it’s creating massive amounts of overwhelm then that’s a really great place to invest a little money.  And if you can’t see the forest for the trees pull in a friend, colleague or someone like me to help you get some perspective.

As my German babysitter used to say when it was room cleaning time as a kid, start in a corner. The big picture can feel like a giant tsunami of things to do, change and embrace, so if you are feeling swaped just go slow for a bit and get some perspective. Trust that you will get there.

For the ultimate overwhelm remedy check out our blissful retreats for some serious nurture and creativity.

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If the business of your art has got you overwhelmed then check out the coaching options.