Overwhelmed By All Your Great Ideas?

One of the things I love most about being an entrepreneur, and specifically about the online business lifestyle, is that I have so much control over the direction of my life.

I'm not bound by location, make my own decisions, create my own schedule, choose my own income level, etc - there are SO many perks!

One of the best perks though, is that I have the option to make dramatic lifestyle changes anytime I please. If I want something, I'm in a position to MAKE it happen, whether that's more free time (or more specifically, something that fills that free time) or more money - or, fill-in-the-blank.

Maybe I want to take a random vacation, buy a car or close on a home. I simply look at my options and figure out how to make the amount of money I need - and take the steps to earn it. That's not something I could do if I had a traditional job and earned the same paycheck no matter what - and I'm grateful for that.

Whether you're in this same position yet or not, that's what you're working toward: financial freedom, creative freedom, complete control over your lifestyle & future.

All of this sounds great, right? Unfortunately, instead of prioritizing our ideas to achieve a very specific objective, we're often paralyzed by our ideas - or simply overwhelmed with the sheer number of them! I've been in that boat myself for the last couple of months, and finally had a breakthrough this week...

I'm sure you can relate...

It has names like "information overload" or "analysis paralysis". But whatever you call it, I was working through it like a mad woman. So many ideas, and each idea has it's own set of ideas, and these ideas get jotted down or recorded in a variety of places - on paper, a sticky note, on a white board, in Evernote, on the palm of my hand even (which is stupid considering how often I wash my hands -lol).

So what do you do?

You do a Brain Dump. You do a brainstorming session. You get all of your ideas in one place and organize and prioritize them to death. All the while coming up with new ideas, sparked by the ones you're already trying to tame, and before you know it... your brain simply implodes and malfunctions and you're staring at a big fat mess of ideas that all seem to blur together!

No starting point. No ending point. Just endless ideas, and tasks that go with those ideas. And complete overwhelm on how you're *ever* going to accomplish it all.

Especially when your days already seem so full...

Taking a step back from the drawing board...

I decided to give my brain a much needed rest from the chaos, and took a time-out on the back deck with a hot cup of coffee. The biggest thing perplexing me being how I was going to get it all done, and even where to start. That's when I asked myself three very important questions:

  • How do I spend my time?
  • What's working and what's not? (And why?)
  • What else can I outsource?

Keeping a "Time Log" works wonders for me. Especially when I get into one of these creative "idea phases", or when I'm in a massive planning session for the year ahead. Or really, anytime I find myself NOT achieving the things I most want to achieve, and want to regain control over my time & productivity.

A time log is as simple as it sounds: you just log your time. It works best if you keep a notepad (or use Evernote) and jot down everything you do throughout your day for three straight days. It's incredibly enlightening. Right away you'll start to see where you're most productive, what's wasting time unnecessarily, or things you're doing that you could easily (and inexpensively) outsource.

The time log worked, and answered Question #1. Which brought me to Question #2 - I looked over the things I do each day, and decided what was a total waste of my precious time - and what I was doing right. Which brought me to Question #3, which I promptly took care of. ;-)

Where I was, Where I am, Where I'm headed...

Through this entire process (which was dragging out *entirely* too long), there were times I was being unreasonably hard on myself. "After all, self, you know this stuff inside and out. You've been doing this for almost 15 straight years. Get it together already - you have no excuses." (etc -lol)

After berating myself for days (um, weeks) on end about where I was NOT, and why, it finally occurred to me how foolish that was. And counterproductive, no less.

I can't recall what it was exactly, but something sparked a memory of my past. I found myself thinking back over the last 10+ years, which turned into a "lifestyle timeline" type daydream - a reality check about where I was, where I am now, and where I intend to be next (which I'm very excited about, by the way!).

Having a strong vision of who you want to be (ie, what you want your life to be like, specifically) is one of the keys to actually turning that vision into reality.

You have to be able to see it, feel it, smell it (?, lol), and most importantly - believe that you can ACHIEVE it. It's not about CAN I do it, but HOW can I do it?

I've been fortunate in two things: 1) having that strong vision, and 2) having experienced the vision-to-reality transition already (more than once).

I know I can do it. Whatever "it" is. I've done it before.

So, being overwhelmed like I was with all of my grand ideas, that line of thinking (which again happened on my obviously magical back deck) brought me to my next question: "What exactly did I do to get where I am?"

Surely the answer to that question would also be the answer to how I will get from where I am, to where I want to be next. Right? Right.

The answer, as usual, is pretty boring:

I did the tasks. Not great big monstrous undertakings mind you, but those boring little mundane tasks. One task at a time. One day at a time.

That's how I got things done. That's how I went from broke to vision=reality. It's kinda the same way you raise children. You can't have a baby and turn them into beautiful well-balanced young adults overnight. It takes a couple of decades. And a lot of exhaustion, emotion, doubt, and yada yada yada.

Thankfully nothing I currently want to achieve is going to take me 20 long years. Though I do look at my 20 year old son and think, "man, what an achievement!" I mean, he is one handsome fellow with a brilliant mind and an exciting future!

I did good there. :D

Back to the point though (sorry, proud mama moment), the things I want to achieve are fairly easy. In fact, I can accomplish everything I currently want to do in 12-18 months. Nice! (and much easier than raising a man child -ha!)

It was a nice reminder that it's just a string of tasks. It's not an overnight job. It's not something I can get done today, or even this week. Heck, this month even!

Whew - that really takes the pressure off...

Choosing my Top 3 Priorities

So I came back to my desk, and back to my massive Brain Dump with all it's little ideas and tasks - and my unsuccessful attempt (so far) to prioritize it without having a total meltdown... and I looked at it from a different perspective.

I decided what my top three priorities were for the next 12-18 months.

What do I most want to accomplish. And why?

(That "why" is incredibly important. It's what pushes you forward day after day, no matter how far out your goals seem in your mind.)

I listed those three things at the very top of my Brain Dump.

Talk about simplifying! Everything else is either a task that relates to one of those priorities, or something that can wait. Period.

Then I made a decision, based on my past experience with what got me where I am today: being consistent and persistent. That decision was this: "I will do at least one thing every single day, for each of my three highest priority goals."

Pretty simple, huh? It really is. Planning is easy. Brainstorming is easy. DOING is where most of us fall short (myself included at times). Maybe because the tasks seem as boring and meaningless as changing the toilet paper roll. But you know what? Each small task takes you one step closer to the end result.

To state the obvious: NOT doing the tasks takes you nowhere.

Planning time is over. I have my goals sitting squarely in front of me. Now it's time to do the boring work - or do the boring task of outsourcing the boring work. :D

One day a time is what it takes. And for me, what has always worked best, is to do those priority tasks FIRST each day.

Start your day by knocking out the one thing (or in my case, three things) that will take you closer to your goal. Even if it only feels like you're one centimeter closer - it's that daily consistent action that will get you there.

It's how I got here. And it's how I'll get there.

And it will work for you, too.

Sure, a "magic pill" answer would be nice.

That's what we all want, right? The truth though, is that the tasks are simple. It's easy enough to "do the work". The hard part is in choosing your goals, and staying on track toward those goals. There are so many options and so many ideas! We absolutely must prioritize our true goals, our biggest desires, put everything else on the back burner - and focus 100% on making it happen!

Alright, enough rambling for today. I have to get back to work, and I'm sure you do as well. ;-) I hope this proves useful as you analyze your own "master idea list", and prepare to buckle down with an awesome Action Plan for the year ahead!

*cheers*

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. I often find myself stuck in idea mode and not taking action.

    I think, for many of us, we don't realize we're "stuck" there. A week later we come out of it and realize we didn't take any action steps--we've spent a whole week thinking up new stuff.

    If we all had a dollar for every great idea we've ever had, we'd be rich. Too bad it doesn't work that way. LOL

    Great topic. Thanks for sharing and showing us that it does happen to everyone. :)

    • I`m agree with you Patti. SOme of my friends are "stuck" there and they are dont even know. It's so hard for them to change something.

      I understand you perfect Linn!I'm the same.

      I love the freedom that you have when you're an entrepreneur.

      Random holiday its my favorite :).
      You're right Linn, is an excellent idea to keep a log time...where I spend my time? Maybe I should make a log and to take the necessary decisions to not waste time elsewhere.

      Thank you Linn!

  2. Hit the nail on the head with this one, Lynn and I finally get it-one idea at a time flowing into the next from the action taken on the first. Not everyone has a "strong vision of who [they][you] want to be" and for many years, the vision I had was fitting into others' stories of me. Now, though, I'm finally seeing the light at the point of the pin, Lynn, LOL. It feels much better for me now to focus: to do one thing on one topic every day.

    Up until now, either squashing the flashes of inspiration OR going down the rabbit hole of my ideas without leaving time to take action would be the way to go. I actually enjoy the discipline of writing a blog post daily on topics that mean something to me, and am even venturing into audio, powerpoint, video.

    I am more confident that there is information I can offer uniquely as a business person. I don't fit into a mold and that's the beauty of entrepreneurship, to build and develop a real business creatively. Thank you for always encouraging that!

    Gratefully, Mary

  3. Cindy Brock says:

    Perfect timing for this article! Even though I have the idea (and I did narrow it down to one - believe it or not), the planning is what I was doing wrong. I didn't have a plan - which is stupid. Sort of like planning a road trip and not having a map.

    Only yesterday, I had a good friend (Dan Morris) help me come up with a good plan for my Amazon Seller Secrets endeavor. It was about working backward from where I want to be, how I am going to get there and where I am now. Made a lot of sense. I felt a sigh of relief and a big sense of accomplishment after I did what he suggested. Gave me a lot of clarity for "the big plan," and is allowing me to pull all the pieces together on how to achieve the desired outcome!

  4. I am often overwhelmed by my ideas. I do need to set my daily top 3 priorities and to stop letting my days just flow and leaving to chance what gets done.

  5. I appreciate you walking us through your brain, Lynn. :) I like the way you think and the conclusions you came to.

    Doing what you need to do day in and day out is not glamorous, but it gets you results in the end. We need to think about how far we've come on a project when it seems to be going on forever - and not be so hard on ourselves.

    For me, the worst time of overwhelm is after coming home from an IM conference. Talk about a lot more ideas swirling around inside my noggin!

    Peggy

  6. Being overwhelmed with ideas is also known as AADD (adult attention deficit disorder). I should write a book!

  7. Nice post. I am finding working on the Internet requires great mental strength, not that it is hard, but as you mentioned, it is the consistent and persistent doing that helps in the journey.

  8. Thank you again Lynn for another great post! You always deliver :-)

    "Ideas overwhelm" and "getting things done overwhelm" are big ones! When I get frustrated, I take a big deep breath and try to look on the positive side and remind myself that aren't we lucky that we actually do have so many options, and that's because we're so talented :-) Imagine not having the options…

    I love the idea of a "Not To Do" List - getting rid of things that don't really matter, or outsourcing to someone who loves doing that "stuff". When I suggest this to clients, they kinda look at me quizzically, tilting their heads to one side. But when they put it into practice, they embrace it :-)

    I think the core of it is - always focus on your primary Passion-driven Purpose and Goal, what you love doing, fuels you, and gives you that "fire in your belly". Things tend to fall into line.

    And like you said, prioritize and only do what serves the successful achievement of your overriding Passion/Goal. If it's an activity that doesn't directly support the achievement of your Passion/Goal, it goes by the wayside.

    While us Entrepreneurs are renowned for "thriving on chaos", it also makes good sense to be kind to ourselves and look after our emotional and physical wellbeing.

    Your "Brain Dump" is an excellent way of getting all the mental chaos down on paper or on your computer. And miraculously, when you do so and see it all in front of you, not buzzing around in your head, or sneaking up on you in your mind and frightening you, it somehow feels much better. Then you can start making logical sense of the priorities in order.

    Without doubt "persistence" and "consistency" is what separates the successful from the not so successful. Unwavering commitment.

    A couple of quotes I love -
    "The secret of success is consistency of purpose." ~ Benjamin Disraeli
    "More output is the solution for ending overwhelm!" ~ Adam Urbanski

    Thanks Lynn!

  9. Time management is certainly the most important step to take when you have lots of ideas. Whenever I get lots of great ideas, I jot them all and assess them one by one, crossing out the ones that aren't worth my time.

  10. Timely post. I'm using this weekend to catch up, refocus and organize. I am one of those people that is good at making lists (tons of them) but not too good at finishing.

    To quote Rae (aka @Sugarrae):

    Before doing something ask yourself...

    "Will it increase my bank account, increase my happiness or improve the world?"

    If not? Don't f*cking do it.

  11. PS. I have a man child too. I will take my business over another one of them ;) Definitely easier!

  12. Mike Cannar says:

    this is great.. I have a lot of ideas how to earn or make money online .but got me paralyze sometimes because I think too much..this enlighten me to act now.. thanks for this wonderful share..:)

  13. entertainmentkatadka says:

    Time management is probably the most important step to take when you have lots of ideas. Whenever I have a lot of great ideas, write and evaluate all one by one, eliminating those not worth my time.

  14. Everyone can have ideas. What set an entrepreneur apart from the rest is that an entrepreneur take massive actions on his/her ideas and that he/she is able to use the ideas for the goodness of everyone.

    It is said that entrepreneurs are renowned for “thriving on chaos”, but it also makes good sense to be kind to ourselves and look after our emotional and physical wellbeing, even spiritual well-being. Good nourishment to the soul is a positive push factor to success.

    So the next time you have an idea, remember to ponder whether the idea can serve your overall well-being and bring out the best in you and everyone around you.

    Kind Regards,
    Anson

  15. Thanks so much Lynn, this is exactly what I needed to hear today! Like many entrepreneurs, I often feel like I'm drowning in ideas, projects and to do lists. I really enjoy your blog - keep up the great work.

  16. Lynn,

    I have been struggling with this for a couple of months. Knowing what I need to do in my head but not actually writing it down and coming up with the priorities. This has been making me want to go off in 10 different directions.

    I think I need an app on my workstation and phone that pops up saying "are you working on what you are supposed to be working on?". :-) Hmmm...maybe a new idea for an app. Haha.

    I am about to start working on my first ebook but a little overwhelmed. Just need to break it down in small pieces and prioritize. Thanks so much for the help!!

    Scott

  17. WOW ... Great Article , I have this kind of problem ... i have so many ideas but i did nothing ... just thinking and write these ideas .. your article push me ... thanks Lynn ..
    and you have a 20 years old boy !!!!! .. wow you look like 20 years old . ;)

  18. Sometimes it's easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to start on a project. Then there are other times when I get on a productive roll and it comes easy. These are good tips for the former. :)

  19. Most people get stuck in a lack of action mode which is why only a few people are successful-the ones that get out of first gear.

  20. It’s only the work of a creative mind to get so many ideas. Also I think the one who has the ability to get such ideas also should have the power to select or choose the best from them. You should always ensure that the best idea that is chosen is benefitting you in all the aspects from business perspective.

  21. I wonder why people find it difficult to work when they have so many ideas flowing into their mind. It’s always good to have a bunch of ideas in advance with you because then you can easily and quickly change over to the other idea if the first one does not seem to be working well on your project or any particular task.

  22. I find that being a mother, wife, entrepreneur and me gets in the way of being productive when I don't have a clear vision of what I want to accomplish. I love the idea of choosing priorities because that's a great way of shaving down the 100s of "to-dos" down to "will-dos". Isn't it so easy to get "overwhelmed" today when the answer is so easy... focus on the priorities! Thank you for a great blog post, Lynn!

  23. Sheen Edward says:

    I'm not that overwhelmed with such ideas since from the very start I know my goals and use my head to achieve them.

  24. This article really hit home for me, because I am currently coming up with so many ideas that I cannot seem to complete one. However, I have started many LOL. I would like to make some more time for my main site, but get sidetracked by other ideas. I am going to try what you have suggested here and narrow my ideas down to 3 main priorities. Thanks for the share!

  25. You are overwhelmed with ideas only when you have a relaxed mind and the ability to think effectively. So why not take the advantage of such times. Once you get good ideas in your mind you should immediately start thinking as to which of the ideas can be fruitful for the project. The ability to think effectively helps you to choose the best option for your project.

  26. Theo Magen says:

    Ask yourself! Will you not like it if you have a lot of ideas into your mind and the only thing that you need to do is filter the best ones first and then later you could implement the filtered ones in all the projects required? Supposing your boss approaches you for some ideas regarding the same project would you not feel proud to have a big bunch of them with you? SO always think positive.

  27. Cosmin Hora says:

    Ideas are useful to those people who know how to handle these correctly. Meaning, if a person will maximize the use of all his/her idea in mind. Unfortunately, there are more people who have brilliant ideas, but they tend to forget to act on these ideas. In the end, all of their ideas remain as plans for a long period of time.

  28. Hi Lynn!

    You would think that by having no ideas you're doing bad. But wait till you have too many of them, right? You multiply the stress by 10 and watch them burn felling useless. I've been there a few times, we've all been probably.
    I guess it's a necessary step in the learning process, understanding how to to prioritize.

  29. Ideas will only help you out to get a way for all your problems. But when you are overwhelmed with ideas you may come across many ways to reach the ladder of success. You need to carefully take a step further only after deciding onto which idea would be the best to apply on all your business solutions. Take it easy and then come to a conclusion. This is what all of the thinkers do.

  30. You should feel good that you have so many ideas coming to your mind. It’s absolutely fine if at times you get confused whether which one to apply on a particular task or project. At such times a short survey by your own would be a good idea as this would help you to choose the best amongst all of them.

  31. Ideas clicking to your mind are not important. What is more important is whether your ideas would be of a quality help to the project on which it is going to be implemented. You may be bagged with hundreds of ideas the only thing is that you need to filter the ideas and then accordingly you need to come to a conclusion of whether which idea would be the best for the project on which you are working.

  32. I feel more enthusiastic when I have ample of ideas with me to work on a particular task. It’s true because the moment you have a lot of ideas you feel like finding out the best of the idea and implementing them over your project so as to get the best output. We should be happy to be overwhelmed with ideas instead of cribbing over it.

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