When Being Overwhelmed Becomes the Norm

September 14, 2010
Philippa Kennealy MD MPH CPCC PCC

As a physician business owner and mom, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the struggle to balance work and home life. (This is one of those times!) Here's how I deal with the problem.

Warning: This is a "peek inside my brain" post. I am an overwhelmed physician entrepreneur and mom at present!

In the course of establishing and growing a business, of whatever kind, there come spells in which everything seems to pile up at once. It's an experience that frazzles the nerves, makes one want to run away from the job, and turns one into a grump to live with.

With back-to-school tensions running high (my daughter’s), a computer on the fritz for four days, two upcoming presentations, the need to create a new program, and being in the midst of a long hard look at where I want to go next with my business, I have fallen prey to the rush of the Devilish Deluge.

If you'll bear with me, I am going to think my response to my feeling out aloud -- in bullet points!

Take a deep breath and repeat after me: "This too shall pass" and "This isn't life or death.” I am healthy, my family is healthy, I have a nice house to live in and a comfortable bed to sleep in.

What can I cancel on my calendar this and next week? What is not urgent? What can be rescheduled?

What activities have to be set aside until I'm in the clear?

What can I do to permanently streamline my calendar? Minimize time with email, cancel all unnecessary newsletter subscriptions/store announcements/fabulous sales etc., and strive to reduce my daily inbox to essentials.

What are my timelines? What needs to be done first? And second? etc.

For each item on my to-do list, what are the smaller tasks? Where can I fit them in? How much time will each one take? I'll then add 50 percent for unanticipated distractions.

How can I make even 30 or 45 minutes useful and productive? I know I am horribly behind on my blogging. And blogging has been a key activity for me to keep my name out there. I'm using 45 minutes between calls this morning to write this. I will be DONE in 45 minutes, whether the post is complete or not!

What can I outsource? With a growing team of support, I need to trust that I can hand over anything that doesn't need my input. Some of it may need my touch before it finally leaves this office, but in time, I hope I can minimize even that.

What am I resisting? Another way of asking this question is, "How would a professional act?" Steven Pressfield, author of the slender but potent "The War of Art" describes how he learned to tackle his tendency to procrastinate by "turning pro." Listen to this great interview with Pressfield on confronting resistance. This will be the best half hour or so you will spend all week.

Okay, my 45 minutes is almost up. Thanks for listening!