Easing solopreneur overwhelm

by Michele on May 10, 2011

How to ease solopreneur overwhelm

How to ease solopreneur overwhelm

When I talk to solopreneur business owners, one of the themes that emerges is overwhelm. There’s just so much to do and even if you have help there’s a lot to learn and manage. One area where you can ease some of your overwhelm is in how you manage your projects. All too often, we put something like “Re-do website” on our project list, and it never gets started much less done. The problem with that project is that it can’t be “done” because it isn’t clear. Most of us would just look at a project like that and get a sick feeling and skip it today, then tomorrow then the next day. It hangs there and makes us feel bad. To reduce the overwhelm in a project like this, I suggest the following 3 steps:

  1. Start by getting clear on exactly why the project needs to be done and what you hope to accomplish by changing your website.  Once you know why you are doing something, much of what else you need to know becomes clear.  How much to spend, how high a priority to place, what time frame, etc all become much clearer when you know why you are doing something.
  2. Once you are clear on the why, you can define the scope of what needs to be done.  Defining the scope of a project helps you to know when it’s done.  It will also help you avoid “feature creep,” or the tendency to add things in along the way.
  3. Once you’ve defined the desired outcomes and scope of the project, make a list of the tasks needed to complete the project. Start with just the first few if that’s as far as you can see. The key here is to keep the steps really small – as small as they need to be to stave off overwhelm. For example, your first step might be to find a web person, but that’s still a big, vague task. I suggest starting with a task such as “Make a list of 5 people I can call for a referral.” Next might be “Spend 1 hour reading up on how to hire a web person” followed by “Call people on list.”  In each case, the task is very small and focused and “done” is clearly defined.

When I talk to someone who is feeling overwhelmed, using these three steps can often help.  Tell me about how you got out of overwhelm on a recent project in the comments.


  1. Monex says:

    Sometimes the most intimidating aspect of tackling a long project like a novel isn t any one thing. Can you imagine getting that far at least?.If you can then there s hope..Forgetting The Big Picture.Breaking down a ginormous task into smaller more easily managed chunks is a basic tenet in the vast flood of project-management and self-development literature.

    1. Michele says:

      That’s true – different things can be overwhelming for different projects. I think novels are unique in that you don’t know how much work it will take to get them done. Other projects have specific steps and once they are done, the project is done. With a novel, when you write 1,000 words or write for an hour you don’t know how much closer that gets you to your goal.

  2. Sometimes the hardest and the best part of being a solopreneur is not having anyone to delegate to. We solopreneurs either become very creative/skilled at prioritizing and organizing or get overwhelmed by all there is to do.

    Great article!

  3. Michele says:

    DeBorah, so true! Whether we have help or not, there is still a lot to do and if we don’t get really good at prioritizing things can fall apart quickly.

  4. Don Talbert says:

    I’ve found that hiring other entrepreneurs to perform certain services. helps ease the burden of wearing many hats.
    Some entrepreneurs are not financially at the stage where that is possible. Those who specialize in certain tasks, are much better equipped to carry them out than I am, freeing up time to do what I do best.

    1. Michele says:

      Don, that is so true! It can be a huge time savings to hire someone who already knows how to do what you are trying to do.

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