A Simple Strategy to Prevent Feeling Overwhelmed and Over-committed If you fall into nearly half of the population who often finds themselves on a path to burnout or stress, it's time to make a change.

By Michael Cooper

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Stress is an expected component of every entrepreneur's experience, but being overwhelmed and over-committed should not be a normal part of your professional life. When you're overwhelmed or over-committed it's important to ask yourself why and how this happened.

Some people -- the Controller + Manager brain types -- will rarely experience overwhelm or over-commitment, because they protect their time and say "no" to anything they think might lead them to take on too much. Others -- the Analyzer + Systemizer brain types -- are particularly organized, and keep an accurate mental tally of their responsibilities, which helps them eliminate the possibility of saying "yes" to things they can't handle.

Related: The 17 Skills Required to Succeed as an Entrepreneur

For nearly 50 percent of the population, being overwhelmed and over-committed is a very familiar reality that may lead to burnout and stress. If you're one of those people, it's worth figuring out what your personal triggers are, so that you could stop the cycle of stress.

If you frequently find yourself saying "yes" to helping others out of obligation, before assessing whether you can handle the responsibility, then you fall into the people-pleaser category, or the Nurturer + Harmonizer brain type. This brain type is motivated by helping others. While that may be a noble cause, if it's stressing you out, causing you to miss deadlines or to disappoint others, then it's really not an effective strategy for being helpful.

To avoid being overwhelmed and over-committed, be sure you listen to what people need help with first, before offering assistance. First you should assess if they really need your help. Second, ask yourself whether you're saying "yes" just to be nice, or if you really think you can be of use. If you have a lot on your plate then it's OK to say "No" or offer to help out at a later date when you have some free time on your hands.

In cases where time is of the essence and helping later just won't do, assess how much time you can give, and how using that time up will affect the rest of your tasks and deliverables. Also, be sure to communicate to others if you have to push off their work until later, to accommodate the most recent request.

Related: 10 Simple Productivity Tips for Organizing Your Work Life

If you often find yourself helping others before you assess how much is already on your plate, then not estimating and managing your time right is the real culprit behind feeling overwhelmed and over-committed. Chances are you're the type of person who actively avoids the practice of time management and you're the Innovator + Influencer brain type. For you, making an adjustment will probably be harder, because not only will you need to develop the discipline to manage your time and expectations, you'll also need to apply this new discipline on the fly.

Managing your time properly requires that you review your entire to-do list and estimate how much time it will take to complete every item on this list. Only then will you be able to determine if you can offer assistance to others. If this process sounds too tedious, you can also make a point of assessing your to-do list a couple of times a week to see how much bandwidth you have and, based on that assessment, decide whether you can take on helping others at that time. If you do this, then when someone asks for help, you'll be prepared with an educated answer regarding whether you have the time, and if you'll be able to honor your current commitments without disappointing yourself or others.

Learning to break a pattern of over-commitment that leads to being overwhelmed is a big responsibility that requires thought, patience and discipline. Take the time to assess your triggers and implement strategies to work with them and you will evolve into a more effective professional.

Preventing your own burnout is your responsibility. Are you up for the challenge?

Related: 7 Tips for Preventing a Business Meltdown

Michael Cooper

Founder of Innovators + Influencers

Michael O. Cooper equips right-brain entrepreneurs, creative professionals and agencies with the business mindset, strategies and skills to thrive in a constantly changing environment. He is the founder of InnovatorsandInfluencers.com and serves as executive coach, facilitator and trainer for design, software, public relations and communications firms, as well as TED Fellows. 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Science & Technology

4 Reasons Why Your Customer Service Is About to Get a Whole Lot Better in 2024

As the technology powering AI customer support jumps to the next level, the quality of service will greatly improve.

Growing a Business

Real Estate Expert Reveals How to Scale Your Rental Investment Portfolio to Maximize Your Profits and Minimize Your Risks

Ready to take your rental property investment portfolio to the next level? Our expert tips will show you how to scale your portfolio with confidence.

Growing a Business

Why Startups Should Invest in Public Relations Right Now

Should you wait until you fundraise to invest in PR? The short answer is a resounding no. Here's why.

Business News

A Billion Dollar Startup Is Trying To Resurrect A Woolly Mammoth — And You Can Watch It Happen

Filmmakers will go behind the scenes of billion-dollar startup Colossal Biosciences, which uses genetic engineering for de-extinction projects.

Growing a Business

How to Regain Your Passion for Your Business — And How to Keep It Alive

Is your passion fading? Here's how to create a business model centered around keeping your passion alive and well.

Employee Experience & Recruiting

Avoid Costly Hiring Mistakes With These Five Essential Tips

From using an AI-powered video platform to posting more precise job listings, these strategies will help hiring managers spend less time, energy and money finding the right candidates.