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  • Writer's pictureSL Eastwood

How To Avoid Overwhelm When Starting Multiple Projects

Starting too many projects can leave you overwhelmed, here are some top tips to keep your cool while getting things done...

When I first went freelance, I began several projects at the same time. Before starting, I’d already put several of the parts into motion but paused after taking a formal job with a media company.

Upon going freelance, I ended up picking up many of these stagnant projects again as a means to promote my fledgling business and very quickly I began to feel… stressed.

It’s all too common to get a goal in mind and then begin piling on work to try to meet it, and before you know it you’re exhausted, overwhelmed and don’t know what to do next.

Fortunately, I had a word with myself and took the required steps to avoid becoming overwhelmed by my new endeavour. So, if you’re struggling with a similar situation, read on to learn how to avoid overwhelm when starting multiple projects

Let's get this first thing out of the way

This may seem like it goes against the nature of the article, but it’s important...

Do you actually have to start all these projects at the same time?

Hear me out. As a serial procrastinator, I have a tendency to overload myself as a form of punishment for what I deem as my "chronic lazy behaviour".

However, it's worth sitting down with your projects and running a cost/benefit analysis to work out if all the tasks on your list are actually top priority (or if you just think they are).

I convinced myself that to be successful I needed to produce three blog posts, YouTube videos and multiple shorts for two separate YouTube channels, daily instagram content for those accounts, as well as find freelance work every week. All while still working full-time.

If you hadn’t guessed... THAT’S TOO MUCH!

Just like me, you need to sit down and work out what projects are going to have the most impact right now and focus on those. Then you can add in new projects slowly, once you know you can handle the workload.

If you have some extra money, you could even outsource some of the work. Especially if it can be done better and more quickly by someone else, saving you time and energy.

You never know. If you get really good at refining your workload, you may eventually be able to outsource most of your work, giving you the time to focus on other projects.

Focus on the shortlist

Now you've decided what tasks to focus on, you'll need to assess how much work is required for each, as well as when you will be a your optimum performance to do them.

Personally, I'm not my most productive between 3–4pm, so I won’t set myself tasks that require a lot of brain function during this time. So, if I'm going to work on an article or a video, I'll either work in the morning or evening, as this is when I'm most alert.

Maybe you’re a morning person and like to work straight from 7:00am–3:00pm, or maybe you need lots of short breaks. Everyone is most productive at different times, so work out when you are primed for certain types of work and schedule around this.

You are less likely to feel overwhelmed by work if you perform tasks when you are most functionally ready for them. Although, be careful not to let this veer into "I don’t feel like doing these tasks EVER".

Sometimes we all have to work when we’re not really "feeling" like it. However, if you try to abide by your peak energy patterns then you will be much more productive and feel less overwhelmed overall.

Your schedule is your friend

A great way to avoid overwhelm is to track your progress using lists that help manage your projects and deliverables. Having one nebulous blob of "To Dos" will quickly overwhelm you. Whereas keeping a scheduled "To Do" list to help direct your efforts is a lifesaver.

Give yourself a treat every so often for a little motivational boost for a job well done. Slogging for weeks on end, though rewarding in the sense you will get lots of work done, is not always enough to make the work itself feel rewarding.

However, letting yourself watch an episode of your favourite show after completing a large task might. You have to give yourself little pats on the back whenever you can. This is to give yourself a sense of achievement, so that the workload doesn’t feel like it’s insurmountable.

Even if this is just giving yourself a gold star or a coffee break.

Don't overdo it

It's very important that we respect our rest time. This means having adequate breaks and respecting proper sleep patterns. Nobody works at their best when they're exhausted.

Stress only increases when we don’t take care of ourselves. We must eat nutritious food, exercise, see friends, and have good and restful sleep in order to work at our best. If you need to take the day off to recalibrate, then you should do it.

The object of starting many projects is to improve your life, not to grind yourself to dust. Yes, it's important to work hard. We know any worthwhile project isn’t going to be easy but you aren’t supposed to kill yourself over it.

Work hard, work smart, take breaks, and take care of yourself.

The best way not to be overwhelmed is to respect your time, energy and physical needs. As long as all of those things are dealt with then you can handle anything.

Keep going. You’ll get there eventually.

At the end of the day, sometimes you have to give yourself some slack when it comes to working on your goals. Progress is progress no matter how slow or disjointed.

We can only take on what we’re able to handle and forcing yourself to take on more will have diminishing returns. We give ourselves these arbitrary deadlines, such as...

I must start a business by the time I’m thirty or I’ll turn into a pumpkin!

But the truth is, everything happens when it’s supposed to happen. Everything good in life takes effort, and most importantly – time. There's no sense overloading yourself in hopes that it will fast-track your success.

Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t.

But you’ll never be able to enjoy it if you’ve destroyed your health to get there. Be kind to yourself, work at the pace that you feel comfortable, and keep moving forward. You will reach your goals if you don’t give up.


Thank you for reading. Make sure to leave a comment and share this with other writers.

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