Managing Overwhelm

Managing Overwhelm

As independent practitioners, solo-preneurs, accidental entrepreneurs – whatever you want to call us – we have so much to do! We do our own marketing, attend networking events, write blogs, manage our finances, and provide the service we actually love providing to our clients. It doesn’t take long to feel completely buried.
There’s one trick that can help tremendously.

Chunking Down StepsChunking Down

We call it “chunking down”. It refers to taking a project or task and breaking it down into smaller and smaller pieces, then starting with Step 1. And when you’ve finished with Step 1, you move on to Step 2. It will feel so much easier that way. And you’ll begin to see your progress immediately.

For example, let’s say you want to start a blog. Your first reaction might be “Oh, my gosh – where do I start?” Well, you start by naming all the tasks you need to do. It might look something like this:

1. Investigate blog software (WordPress, Blogspot, others?)
2. Chose a template
3. Begin writing content
4. Post

It looks simple enough. But in fact, each step can be broken down even further into many more steps. Investigating blog software, for example, can be broken down like this:

1. Investigate blog software
(a) Talk to a friend(s) or colleague(s) who has a blog to find out what they use
(b) Look at each program to see what you like
(c) Look at some blogs to see what people include
(d) Talk to your web person (if you have a website already) to find out about linking it to your site and getting suggestions

Keep asking yourself, every time you identify a step: “What are the steps for getting that done?” You get the idea. Identify the tasks, chunk them down as much as possible, then identify a 15-minute or half-hour window in your day when you will focus on that task. If you can afford more time, great. If not, move on to your next activity, knowing that you’ve accomplished a small step on the way to getting to your goal. A little each day will get you there.

You can do the same thing with tasks like expanding your network, devising a marketing strategy, planning a presentation, writing a proposal, or any of the other myriad tasks in running your business.

Now ask yourself, “what projects am I procrastinating?” Chances are, you haven’t chunked it down.

We are all familiar with the wise words of Lao Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Wise, indeed! Start chunking so you know what your first step should be.



Your Power as a Leader

How do you show up as a leader – whether at work or in your own life?

How do you show up as a leaderI had always thought that leadership was something solitary. If you’re a leader, you stand head and shoulders above the crowd, alone, on your own. Your vision shows others the way forward. And as an independent professional or entrepreneur, it’s up to you to do it all:  develop the concept, create the marketing materials, go to all the marketing calls and networking events, in addition to doing all the work, whether you’re an attorney, accountant, physician, or coach.

In recent years, experience has taught me that it’s really quite different. And this is a lesson I have to keep learning and re-learning.

A perfect example is this blog.

For nearly a year, I have wanted to start a blog. But I was overwhelmed at the prospect of figuring out, alone, how to go about it. What should I write about? What should I name the blog? How could I set it up so it looked professional? It was overwhelming to deal with, so it never happened. Then one day, a friend offered me some help and an opportunity to get started.  This was one of those “Aha!” moments, as I realized once again that I didn’t have to do it myself.  Finally, the blog is under way — and I’m no longer overwhelmed.

Being a leader doesn’t mean having all the answers. It doesn’t mean standing alone with no support or partners. That way lies burnout. It does mean having the wisdom to partner when you need to.  It means leveraging your unique skills and perspectives to help others find their way and inviting others to do the same for you. It means continuing to move forward, no matter how small the steps. So much time is wasted feeling that you must do everything yourself, when there are so many resources available to help. Even the Lone Ranger couldn’t have been successful without the help of Tonto.

Your true power as a leader lies in the example you set for others about how to partner and how best to leverage the skills of those around you.  As a leader, you enlist their energy in helping strengthen your endeavor.

So the next time you face a challenge, think first:

  • Who can help me with this?
  • Who has done this before?
  • Whose ideas do I like?

That really is taking the leadership role – both in your life and in your business. That’s where your true power lies.




This blog is about the many things that are important to me. I hope they will resonate with you as well. My dream is for it to be a conversation, with comments and additions by all of you who read what I – and my guests – write. I hope you will feel free to share your wisdom. I’m looking forward to the conversation.

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