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Overwhelmed? 6 Ways to Make Sure Stress Doesn't Hold Back Your Business

As an entrepreneur, you have a lot on your plate. Sometimes it can leave you feeling like you're drowning, like you can't possibly take on one more task, let alone the 10 that are waiting for your attention. I feel your pain, I've been there myself. But don't let that feeling make you put on the brakes.


Running a small business -- and trying to grow it -- means wearing a lot of hats. It also means plowing forward. Unfortunately, having so many different areas of business to deal with and plow through can get overwhelming. And that can lead to you saying "no" to anything new -- even if it might help your business.

The Internet alone offers small businesses so many new, constantly-evolving opportunities -- think Facebook, Twitter, and all of those Groupon-like companies -- that it's literally impossible to stay on top of them. At times, it can be very tempting to simply say "no more!" But, I'm sorry to say, that's just not an option. You're not in business to say "no" to opportunity.

So how do you avoid becoming paralyzed by the overload? Here are six ways to keep moving:

1. Divide and conquer. It may be a cliché, but compartmentalizing is a must. With so many different parts of your business to worry about, it's easy to let troubles in one area of your business color your thinking about the rest. And that can lead you to thinking that all is lost - when it really isn't. Time out. The only thing that's lost is your perspective. Keep separate issues separate -- especially your feelings about them.

2. Make a little bit of progress each day. Ticking things off a "to-do" list is good for your sense of accomplishment. Schedule time daily to address each area of your business. And stick to it. Making daily headway will help you feel like you're in control and it will give you the mental space to consider new ideas/challenges.

3. Plan a focus day. One thing I sometimes do to help myself stay on track is dedicate an entire day to one area of my business, like my yoga sportswear line, for example. (This time of year it might be taxes.) So I'll take a Focus Day, where I don't respond to emails, texts, or calls that aren't related to what I'm focusing on. I put a reminder on my Outlook calendar. I even put up a sign on my desk to remind my staff what my focus will be for the day.

4. Delegate. Easier said than done, I know. One thing that makes it easier: Hire people with broad skill sets who are good at lots of things. More than ever, that means people with great computer and Web skills. Hire multi-taskers who can help you in several areas. Then put them to work.

5. Take care of yourself. Staying physically and mentally fit is crucial. OK, I know -- I run a fitness business, so of course I'm going to say this. But if you don't have your health, it really doesn't matter how much money you make. The "I don't have time" excuse isn't really a valid one either. Can't go to the gym for an hour? Break up your exercise time into 15-minute chunks throughout the day.

6. See tasks as opportunities. This may be most important of all. Instead of looking at business challenges as tasks, see them for what they are. Each business interaction, each step you take, gets you closer to new solutions and new potential. Look at that list of to-dos as a list of possibilities that lead to business opportunities you haven't thought of yet.

So the next time you feel like you just can't handle any more, stop and get organized. You'll figure it out. I promise.

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