Overwhelmed? It’s Time For A New Filter

Mar 30, 2020 | Newsletter

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

There is an overwhelming amount of information, ideas, opportunities, and advice—not to mention the headlines—coming at small business owners right now.

We’ve been checking in and—overwhelmingly—you’ve told us that what you’re feeling is, well, overwhelmed.

I think it’s worth noting that different people are overwhelmed by different things. Some are overwhelmed by ideas to create or step up & serve. Some are overwhelmed by responsibilities at home now that kids are demanding their attention when they’re used to working without interruption. Still others are overwhelmed by the reality that their income sources have dried up.

The truth is that overwhelm is always a possibility, right?

The information age presents us with a baffling number of opportunities for overload. There are countless things to get excited about, to be afraid of, to worry about, to celebrate, to enjoy.

But, hopefully, most of the time we don’t live in a state of constant overwhelm (although, I realize that plenty of people do).

The reason we’re not constantly overloaded is that we generally have a better sense of what our priority is at any given time.

We know what we’re working on, we have a plan, we have a list.

We have a filter.

A sense of overwhelm is really a lack of filter.

What happens when the plan gets completely interrupted and the list goes out the window? What happens when we lose our filters?

Well, we’re susceptible to all sorts of outside forces. And the result is becoming overwhelmed.

I think at this point that our natural inclination is to try to sort all of the incoming messages we’re receiving: the opportunities, the headlines, the information, the ideas… and figure out which ones we want to dig into more.

Unfortunately, the sorting itself becomes overwhelming because what criteria are we using to sort?

Probably none at all.

So if you want to feel less overwhelmed, you have to focus on a framework for sorting (or ignoring) what’s coming at you. You need to rebuild your filter.

And there’s one really important question that I believe can help you do exactly that:

What do you (or your business) need right now?

Some of us need a place to channel nervous energy or the drive to be of service.

Others need to figure out how to take a break.

Some of us need an idea for a new product or service to make up lost revenue.

Others need to figure out how to build capacity to take on the new customers coming our way.

Some of us need to figure out how to make payroll.

Others need to figure out how they can help others financially.

Once you’ve figured out what you need, you can tune in to just that information and start ignore or filter everything else out.

If you have the bandwidth, there’s another question you can consider:

What do your customers or clients need right now?

Their needs might be quite different from yours. Their needs might present a big opportunity for you or they might make it more difficult for you to earn attention for your business.

But once you know what their needs are you can also use that as a filter for what is worth paying attention to and what is just noise.

There is a darn good reason we’re feeling overwhelmed right now. We’ve been thrown for a loop and we lost our filters.

Before you try to fit one more thing into your schedule or read one more piece of information, create a new filter.

The Leadership Dashboard

Need help with creating a new filter and making an adaptable plan for yourself & your business?

I’ve made the planning system that I developed when all other systems fell short available as a done-for-you Notion template, with written & video planning guides. It’s currently Pay What You Want so you can get to the practice of planning for the future while adapting for today.

Click here to learn more.

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