5 Signs Overwhelm is Eroding Your Competence

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With a new idea every 17 seconds, a highly creative entrepreneur has a really difficult time with overwhelm. Bright shiny objects lurk inside every email, conversation and Facebook status update. But did you know that a pattern of overwhelm can actually erode your competency in your work? Here are five signs that overwhelm is eroding the quality of your performance

1. Silly mistakes.

A silly mistake is when you forget to double check that link to make sure it’s working or you didn’t think through how that email would sound to the other person. It’s something you would not normally have happen but because you are overwhelmed it slipped through. Most mistakes are made because you are rushing around trying to fit way too many tasks into a very short timeline. Silly mistakes happen to everyone but if you have a pattern of LOTS of silly mistakes, then overwhelm is eroding your ability to perform properly.

2. Over-extending yourself.

It’s exciting to think that when you sell more your bank account will expand. But just because you can sell it doesn’t mean you have the capacity to deliver it, right? If you are already swamped, chances are that you will have delays in delivering to your new clients. Another way that people over-extend themselves is by not having clarity on how much you can really handle. This happens a lot with service-based professionals. Excited to make more money they sell their services till they hit their financial goal – but then they can’t keep up with the work. Clients experience the delay as poor performance and jump ship quickly. Over-extension is a fast way to kill your reputation.

3. Foggy head.

When you can’t think clearly you miss obvious issues and make bad decisions. Foggy head is usually the result of sleep deprivation , lack of proper nutrition, stimulant addiction (aka caffeine or other addictive substance), or even depression. A foggy head makes it impossible to be in optimum performance and people often make decisions that lead them to more overwhelm in their life. Most “foggy head” situations go on for years because the person experiencing it has NO IDEA that their capacity for clear thinking has diminished. They actually think their brain fog is normal.

4. Breakdowns.

Breakdowns are when some part of your system or strategy completely fails. It can be technology, a lack of communication or a process that failed to deliver the expected result. Typically breakdowns occur when the owner (or the staff) are so consumed with keeping up that they neglect updating their systems to keep up with the changes. Breakdowns often result in significant financial loss so the sooner you can identify a potential breakdown the faster you can solve your financial problems. A common example of breakdowns is when the owner is moving so fast that the team can’t keep up. The team doesn’t have the knowledge or training they need to be successful so as much as they try to keep up they often make huge mistakes that are quite costly. The owner doesn’t realize they are the real culprit so they fire many “good” employee until they realize they are the problem.

5. Apathy.

Apathy is a form of giving up. Typically apathy surfaces when overwhelm has been a standard practice for a long time. We stop caring about what is happening and we just get into a “get it done at all costs mode.” This is the worst sign of overwhelm as apathy leads to short-cuts that take massive value away from the experience of your client – leading to a bad rap in the marketplace.

Overwhelm happens to all of us – but what you do when you hit that wall will make or break your success. Here are a few tips to help you eliminate the overwhelm:

Get real with yourself. If one or all of these signs of overwhelm are happening, you need to slow down and regroup. Be willing to tell yourself the truth about where overwhelm is coming from so you can create a stronger approach to your success.

Implement stronger boundaries. One thing I learned many years ago is the stronger my time boundaries are, the more I get done. Take a step back and get clear on where your time boundaries are getting compromised.

Up-level your standards. Challenge yourself to set higher standards in the following areas:

a. Self-care. Make sure you get enough sleep and fuel your body with good nourishment every day.

b. Opportunities. Only take on projects that you have the bandwidth for (or be willing to put something else on hold to pursue it.)

c. Systems. Have the best resources available to make your life (and work flow) better. Ask yourself what it’s costing you to have this problem vs. the investment to upgrade your systems.

Get help. You can’t do it alone – and you certainly can’t grow when you are already overwhelmed with what you have on your plate right now. Be willing to get some help to take the pressure off. (But please keep in mind that not all help is good. Learn how to build a dream team first.)

What’s your experience with overwhelm? Share it in the comments below.

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