What to do when you’re overwhelmed with work, tasks, customers and more

Building and selling marketing funnels is a demanding job. Combined with running our own businesses, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed with all our commitments.

I’m going to show you exactly what I do when I’m overwhelmed with work, customers, tasks, support tickets, problems and more.

Rip that plaster (band-aid) right off

If you leave your worries and tasks and try to ignore them, they pile up. Good lord to they pile up.

feeling overwhelmed paperwork

One week of “project and time management”

That image above is of 2 weeks of paperwork hitting my desk. Every day I told myself I’d get around to it.

The problem is that if we ignore what’s piling up, that can add to our sense of being overwhelmed.

It’s often equated to feeling like you’re drowning or struggling to breathe, claustrophobia, darkness, or like there’s “too much to do”. It can lead to further problems like stress, lack of sleep, and anxiety.

But dealing with the problem head-on is the best way to start freeing up your brain and starting to feel like you can breathe again. Below are the steps I take when I start to think “everything is getting on top of me”.

Recognising the results

The first thing, for me, is to recognise what’s happening. If I start missing deadlines or appointments. If I start to lose sleep, get short tempered or lose my appetite, it’s usually a sign that something isn’t right.

Is something wrong with your day-to-day? Do you feel something isn’t going right or that you’re out of sorts?

Take a few minutes to think and look inwards. It might be that you’re feeling overwhelmed with work.

I find that my feelings stem from over-predicting the future. That all these things will go wrong and culminate in my life being over.

However most of the time, I can check myself and see that what I need to do is write it out, tackle the issue and move on.

Write it out

First, above all else, I’ll write a list of what’s wrong. What is looming over me or do I feel under pressure about?

I’ll just take my notebook (I use the Code&Quill Origin) and write out everything I’m worried about. All the things going over and over my head that I feel are weighing me down.

Here’s what’s interesting, human brains are REALLY good at repeating things. It’s a method of saving energy, by replaying the same thoughts over and over.

However, it can break our minds a little. Especially if you’re not good at putting those things to rest.

I find that if I write out everything that’s going around my brain, the list is not as long as I think it is. It’s usually only a few items. And most of them aren’t really worth worrying about.

list of problems overwhelmed

I crossed birthday (30th), customers and content off. Because they’re going to happen anyway

This is a real picture from the last month of my notebook. I wasn’t sleeping. Felt sick a few times a day and couldn’t concentrate. I wrote down what was going over in my head and this is all it was.

11 items. That’s it. Most of them are even things that I don’t HAVE to worry about.

9 of them are things I need to think about. But even then, only 4 of them actually need working on.

You’ll see half of them are money related. I have to work really hard at managing my money. I was never taught properly how to handle finances.

Here’s what happens, when you write out all your world woes, it becomes clear that most of it is bullshit. Those small things left might need working on. But that’s about it.

Writing out my worries is my favourite way to work on them.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Once they’re written out, I’ll indulge in a little soothsaying.

sooth·say·ing (so͞oth′sā′ĭng)
1. The art or practice of foretelling events.


I’ll think about what is ACTUALLY the worst that’ll happen. Like Dr. Pepper.

dr. pepper whats the worst feeling overwhelmed

If they can get you to drink medicine flavoured sugar piss, you can deal with your problems

I know that in the worst case, I’ll probably lose a little credit and miss a trip to Paris. Will I lose the house? Probably not. I’d get a job before that. Will I lose a customer? Maybe, but that’s not the end of the world.

Once I’ve looked at the more realistic possibilities, I start to calm down and let my fears drip away. It turns out I’m probably not done for.

Eat the frog

What’s the worst thing you have to face on that list? What’s the frog on your plate?

Brian Tracy wrote a whole book about this philosophy.

What’s the one thing, that if you dealt with it, would make the day much better?

“There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day. “

Brian Tracy

For example. Debt. That’s usually something we feel in too deep with. So they BEST way to kick it? Deal with it.

I find that writing the list out helps because it lets me see what’s going round in my head. I can see clearly that there are really only two things I need to address NOW before they get any worse.

Ugly I know. But sometimes, it’s the only way for us to move forward.

So what’s the frog on your plate?

Interestingly, I also find that whatever the “frog” is, usually isn’t as bad as I make out. A few phone calls, emails, days spent working can usually fix things.


This is probably the hardest part of any task list. I’m not a natural communicator myself, so it’s hard to sit down and start to make those calls.

Most of the time, I’ll even start the call or email with “I need some help” then I’ll explain my problem. I’ve never had anyone turn around and tell me they can’t help me. It just doesn’t happen.

On that note, getting notifications from your phone/desktop/email/browser is NOT communicating. Communicating is about having a conversation and working out what we can do to make progress. It also means you have to listen.

Having a million bings and beeps every day isn’t communicating. That’s reacting and it might a source of worry for you.

Push stuff back

Finally, don’t be afraid to push stuff back. Simple as that.

I had two big concerns when it came to pushing stuff back.

  1. I’d be letting people down. They’d be unhappy and I’d be shunned be society, forever living as a hermit in the forest.
  2. I’d be embarrassed that I couldn’t do something I said I could.

Ok…so number 1 looks kind of dumb when it’s written out. Maybe that won’t happen. But yes, some people might be unhappy. But they’re never going to be happy if you don’t do the thing anyway, so what’s the matter? Besides more people are pretty understanding.

The second option is purely about ego. “I told people I’d go” or “if I don’t go people will think I’m poor or something”. Again, writing it out seems kind of dumb. Most people really don’t care about what you’ve committed to. Plans change all the time.

Don’t commit to stuff if it’s going to kill you.

Think about what’s REALLY important to you. Exercise, diet, friends, people, a place to sleep. That’s about it. Everything else can come when it needs to.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be driven. I believe that some types of stress are healthy. We need to work hard and accomplish things. But when I look at my calendar and I really don’t want to do some of those things, who’s making me?

Most stuff ISN’T important

That about sums it up. Most stuff isn’t so big that it can’t be dealt with. Most of us worry about money and that can ALWAYS be fixed.

What are some of your coping strategies and methods? Anything here that you might try? Let me know in the comments below.

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.