5 Ways to beat overwhelm as a Digital Entrepreneur

5 ways to beat overwhelm as a digital entrepreneur

Are you a digital entrepreneur and feeling the overwhelm?

I know that feeling well! Not only are you an entrepreneur, so you're dealing with the stresses, demand and pressure that comes with that, but you're a digital entrepreneur, which means you're expected to "show-up" on social media and manage what comes with that physically and emotionally.

Being a digital entrepreneur certainly isn't the easy option. Yes, it often affords the CEO more flexibility in when and where they can work from (for example, I work from home 90% of the time and I can pick-up and go and work from anywhere in the world if I wanted to) - but, it can feel relentless. Relentless in the sense of your work never really ends, there is always something to-do and because of the digital nature (ie. everything being accessed and run from your phone or laptop), it can be hard to switch off.

It is perfectly common and natural to feel overwhelmed as a digital entrepreneur, believe me, you're not alone. I often feel that way, but I've learnt some ways that help to overcome it.

So here are my 5 ways to beat overwhelm as a digital entrepreneur:

home office desk and screen keyboard and notebook

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1 – Breathing practice

I am a firm believer in breathing and meditative practice when you're a digital entrepreneur - as it's an important part of your toolkit as a CEO. When you feel those moments of overwhelm, anxiety or stress, you can pull this tool out and in a matter of moments, can feel significantly better.

I like to use apps like Headspace and I also practice yoga 1-2-1 with Maida Yoga who does a lot of breathing work with me and sets me up for my busy days ahead.

A quick getting started to breathing practice to beat the overwhelm:

  • Take yourself into a quiet space, free from interruption and disruption (that means turn off your phone!)
  • Get into a comfortable position (either seated or laying flat on your back)
  • Close down your eyes and start to focus on your natural breath - recognise if it's short, hurried, maybe even frantic? or is it slower and more drawn-out? Either way, it doesn't matter, just recognise it without judgement
  • Now take a deep breath in through your nose and count for 4, then breath out through your mouth and count for 6
  • Breathe like this for 5 or 6 breaths and notice how you feel now (there is no right or wrong answer by the way)
  • Now return your breathing to normal and open your eyes

2 – Know your goals and your "why" inside out

This was a major "a-ha" moment for me, yet it seems quite obvious as a digital entrepreneur. You probably know your goals loosely and the reason why you started your own business... but can you, on demand, tell me your goals for the next 12 months, 6 months, 3 months, 1 month? Possibly not.

I know I struggled for a while - I could see the bigger picture, where I wanted to get to eventually and what that would look like. But I struggled with visualising and knowing the actual steps and "mini-goals" that I'd need to take to get there.

Now, I map-out my goals on a white-board in my office. I focus on the 3 months ahead of me and note down my key goals (could be personal, financial, business growth) - then, next to those, I map out the key actions that I need to take to get to those goals in that time.

I then do the same for 1 month ahead of me - again, noting down the necessary actions.

I then map out my goals for the week with associated actions.

This work gives me a clear picture and focus, along with more structure when it comes to my to-do list (we'll get onto that next!). It also clarifies my goals and means I'm more adept at communicating them to others.

3 – Prioritise!

This leads on perfectly from point two. As a digital entrepreneur, regardless of what stage of the journey you're at, that feeling of overwhelm often comes from the fact that your to-do list is endless, right? There's always something to-do, meetings to be had, new tech or social platforms to master, emails to answer. I know I could literally work 24 hours a day and still have things I could be doing.

But, are all these things truly necessary? Truly, if you think about it, are the things on your to-do list getting you closer to your goals? (You know, the things you now have a clear picture of for the coming 3 months).

This step is about recognising and prioritising what actually needs to be done. It means getting good at clearing your desk of the things that are just "nice to haves". By looking at your to-do list and pulling out the things that actually take you one step closer to your goal for that week, month or 3 months, you'll become better at prioritising. This leads onto my next point nicely...

4 – Manage your to-do list effectively

Easier said that done right? Wrong! Actually, there are some simple ways that you can manage your to-do list far more effectively that you are now.

So, you're clear on your goals and the actions that you need to take to move yourself and your business closer to those goals. You've prioritised the tasks that actually move your forward to those goals?

Now, it's time to pick the 3 things per day that you actually need to get done. Yes, that's right... 3 things only!

Have what I call, a "Master to-do list" - this is your brain dump, where absolutely anything and everything that you think you need to-do goes. Note it down in your planner or notebook. From this list, you can pull just 3 things that need to be done each day. It's far more manageable to focus on less things and get them done! Ticking-off those 3 things and successfully doing them each day gives you a big psychological boost - it helps keep you motivated and gives you a big dose of mojo.

Rather than feeling like you're drowning in an endless to-do list (you know, the one where you tick one thing off and add two things to the bottom?), you're successfully completing your actions every day and moving yourself closer to your goals.

Trust me, it works!

Note: if you absolutely smash those 3 things and have 5 hours of your day left, by all means, take one thing from your master list and tackle that too... one at a time. But again, assess whether it's a) a priority and b) actually getting you closer to your goal for the week/month/3 months.

5 – Take regular breaks

Again, we all know this right? We all know that too much screen time is detrimental for our physical and mental health? We all know that we perform better when we sleep well? We all know that regular exercise solves a wealth of problems?

But, do we actually implement that knowledge? My guess is, that as a busy digital entrepreneur, trying to beat overwhelm... probably not!

So here I am, giving you permission to take regular breaks. Blame me! Tell everyone else that you're working with me and I told you that you had to take a regular break during your work day, no negotiations!

My tips for regular breaks that don't feel like a waste of time:

  • Take 5 minutes out of every 60 minutes worked, to just stand-up, walk around the house/office, roll your shoulders and put your phone down. Basically, walk away from your work for just 5 minutes. Go make a cuppa, better still, crack open a window or door and breathe in some fresh air. Just 5 minutes each hour.
  • Reward yourself with a break when you've nailed your 3 things to-do today. There's no better feeling than smashing your to-do list, so reward yourself! Go have a 15 minute break in the garden, a quick walk round the block with a podcast or my favourite... a day-time bath! There's nothing more luxurious than a day time bath when you're a digital entrepreneur working from home!
  • Use your lunch break! "But I have lunch at my desk, Holly". Yup, I hear you. I often do too - but I try not to do it too often. Instead, I switch things up a bit - I move rooms, I leave my phone behind and I concentrate on clearing my head and enjoying my food. In fact, I try to use my lunch break for a bit of psychical activity or fresh air too. Even better!

The finale: last tidbits on ways to beat the overwhelm as a digital entrepreneur

It's certainly not rocket-science and probably, you were already aware of these 5 steps? But my question to you is: are you actually doing it? I mean really implementing these steps, regularly and consistently? Probably not...

If you do take the time to recognise that feeling of overwhelm and address is sooner rather than later, it'll make your life as a digital entrepreneur much more manageable and enjoyable!

Holly Wood photo on chair

About The Author

Holly Wood, has over 10 years experience of building a digital brand and business online. From blogging, to being an influencer, to founding a membership community, to speaking and 1-2-1 mentorship - Holly has a wealth of knowledge in the practical and cognitive steps to building a flourishing brand and successful business online. Follow Holly on instagram here, connect on Linkedin or follow on Twitter.