Checklist for Overwhelm

5 steps for Multipassionate entrepreneurs to overcome overwhelm + a free checklist to get you through


Do you ever feel a bit out of control? Overwhelmed by your to-do list? Stressed or anxious? Know you’re not alone – being overwhelmed is part of the Multipassionate life. Luckily, there is something you can do to get rid of these feelings!

Just the other week I didn’t feel great. I woke up feeling completely overwhelmed. I spiraled down in negative thinking and imposter syndrome.

‘Who am I to do what I do?’

‘I cannot even control my own feelings.. ‘

‘How am I supposed to coach people?’.

But then I reminded myself that everyone has feelings similar to these. And these thoughts will sometimes pop up whether you are an entrepreneur- or multipassionate or not.

So I wrote down my 5 steps on how to get out of this feeling of overwhelm, and created a checklist to help you through!

1. Step away from your to do list

The most important thing to do first, is step away from your to do list and your computer and do something completely different. The feeling of overwhelm usually already starts the moment you wake up. This pressing feeling in your chest, and these running thoughts in your head. *’I must do this and that today. I’m so behind.’* You already feel completely overwhelmed before you have even opened your eyes.

What has never helped me – or anyone else for that matter – is to keep focusing on all the things you must do. So, looking at your to do list will probably get you more overwhelmed. You need to get yourself out of that negative spiral of thinking. And the best way to do that is to do something completely different.

Funny example of what I did once was taking an ice-cold shower. While I was in the shower, I noticed myself getting into this negative spiral of thinking. I realized I had to stop these thoughts, so I turned the tap to ice-cold water. Instantly I couldn’t think about anything else than me being cold, and completely forgot about my negative thoughts. Now I don’t suggest that you take an ice-cold shower but putting your thoughts on something else – especially physical experiences – really helps!

2. Do something fun & physical

After you take a step away from your to do list you will have a look at your ‘feel-good checklist’. This is a checklist full of things you really love doing. This could be anything from doing a little dance session in the living room or putting on some good music. It can be going for coffee, writing in your diary or journal or a long yoga session.

What usually does not work is reading a mindset book. I know you are probably a self-development junky like me, but when you feel overwhelmed and bad about yourself, reading about self-development can actually give you more anxiety. It will draw your attention to the things you can improve yourself. For the same reason journaling doesn’t always help me, because it is often about reflecting. However, you can write down all your negative thoughts on paper to get them out of your head.

What you do want to do is to do something that will get your mind off yourself. Reading fiction or watch something on Netflix. Meet with friends and chat about some other topics. For me personally it helps me a lot to do something physical. A yoga session, taking a long walk or going for a run. This could also be a fitness session if you like. Or even sex – always does wonders too!

The most important thing is to choose something of that list that you most feel like doing at that time.

3. Choose one must do

After you’ve stepped away from your to do list and have done something completely different, you might feel like working again. But make sure to take it easy on yourself and don’t push yourself to get everything done. This will not work on days that started with overwhelm!

The next step is to ask yourself what you really want to get done from your to do list. Your must do of the day. A must do is a task that if you don’t do it, it will have a huge negative affect on your business or someone else, or you will miss a deadline for a client or something like that.

Try to pick one, or maybe two things that really need to be done and leave all the ‘should do’s’ for another moment.

The difference between a should do and a must do is that when you don’t do a should do – nothing bad will happen. If you must pay your bills otherwise your electricity is going to be cut off – that’s a must do. But if you still have weeks left before such drastic consequences, it’s not a task you must do right away. You could pay the bills tomorrow as well.

When working on days you feel overwhelmed or stressed, you might need some extra tools to keep focused. One of the tools I use is the Pomodoro Technique. With this technique you work for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break. After 4 sets you have a 15-minute break.

Another tool I use is the Eisenhower principle. This is a way to structure your thoughts, so your tasks get divided in one of four categories, of which you only do the things from the first category:

1. Important and urgent – your must do’s
2. Unimportant but urgent – ask someone else to do it, or can probably do this later
3. Important but unurgent – things you can do later
4. Unimportant and unurgent – things you should skip

A third tool I use is time blocking. This method is amazing for multipassionates and multipotentialites who juggle multiple projects and struggle to find the time to work on all of them. For example, from 12u to 14u I only work on one particular project, and from 14u to 16u I focus on a completely different project.

4. If you want to continue, do the most fun task.

Once you’ve finished your one to-do you might feel like you can and want to work more. If this is the case, don’t just continue with your to do list but pick one task you would really *like* to work on.

This is usually everything related to your zone of genius – what you really love doing, the core of your business. For me that is probably a task like creating a training or preparing content.

It can also be something creative like editing photos. Anything that will get your mind off stress and overwhelm, and will make you feel happy.

If you don’t want to do some extra after you’ve finished your one must do, just stop. Don’t force yourself to keep working, because it will get you in that negative spiral again. Call it a day, and go do something fun. It might be that you only had a short workday today, but that’s okay.

5. Treat the cause

At the end of the day it is important that you find out what caused your overwhelm that day. Can you prevent it from happening again?

For me it’s often because I didn’t have enough sleep that week. If this is the case, it is easy to solve. I just make sure I go to bed earlier.

If there is anything else going on in your life – like a big life change, a major life-event that you need to give attention to, or if you had a fight with someone – this could also be the cause. If this is the case, you should really be kind to yourself. These things can really cost a lot of energy and you shouldn’t push yourself to be productive. Your energy is going somewhere else and that’s OK.

I often tell my clients to take a break in these cases. To let go of what they think they should do. Because those things are in fact not that important right now.

For example, a couple of months ago, I decided to move from Vietnam to Europe in a matter of days. Obviously, I didn’t have much time to work on my business, but once settled I immediately pushed myself to start working again. You’ve probably guessed it already: it didn’t work. We moved countries which we in the first place didn’t expect to do. Secondly, I had to get used to being back in Europe after two years. Getting used to a new daily routine, meeting with friends who I didn’t see for a long time… It all took a lot of my energy. I had to tell myself that it’s okay to take a break.

A few really important causes of overwhelm are lack of sleep, unhealthy habits (too much coffee, unhealthy food, too little movement) and/or lack of structure in your life. If it is one of the first two, you probably know what to do. If it is the latter one, coaching or a course around productivity might be the solution.

I created a free checklist to help you deal with overwhelm, and helps prevent you from getting overwhelmed in the first place. Click here for your free download!

Download your FREE Checklist for Overwhelm

Feeling stressed out or overwhelmed? This Notion Template is based on the step plan I personally use to calm myself down and get myself back on track.