Blockers to Finishing Your Online Course

#2 Overwhelm

As a freelance trainer, there’s a strong possibility you will have experienced overwhelm at least once! There’s so much to learn, especially starting out trying to build a business. It can feel like there’s a never-ending to-do list that can quickly spiral out of control. Even if you’ve been in business for years, there’s always the possibility of feast and famine – everything going quiet and then all of a sudden everyone wants something done at the same time!

It can be doubly easy to experience overwhelm when trying to build an online course – possibly because your brain is likely to be telling you: ‘It’s a course! I know how to build one of these! Why is it so hard?!’. We can forget that we’re learning a new skill-set – in addition to learning how to adapt an existing skill-set to a new environment.

Shelley overcome overwhelmThere’s a new set of jargon to learn, working out how to make experiential exercises work in a virtual space, getting to grips with the technology needed, the hosting options, nevermind all the sales and marketing needed. And that’s even before you’ve worked out what topic you’re going to focus on!

If you’ve experienced overwhelm, then you know what it looks like for you – most commonly it manifests as procrastination, so all of a sudden cleaning behind the fridge is of vital importance …

More seriously, it can also be something that feels more akin to a panic attack: you’re not sure what’s wrong, but something very definitely doesn’t feel right; you might get clammy, hyperventilate or overreact to something you’d normally find inconsequential.

Should you find yourself in a situation of overwhelm with your online course creation, here are some tips for how to move past this blocker:


Take a deep breath and change your posture. Studies have shown that this simple act of simply ‘sitting up and breathing’ can do wonders for giving us a few seconds to reduce the intensity of what we are feeling in the moment.


Find a good resource to follow in a step-by-step style – I have one you can get by subscribing to my weekly best practice email. Overwhelm often strikes when we’re not sure of our current or best next steps and we can worry about putting in lots of work to find we’ve done something fundamentally wrong at the beginning.


Be realistic with what’s Essential, Desirable, Optional and Overkill for what you’re trying to achieve. You might be clear on how to put together your online course, but giving yourself far too much work in the ‘bells and whistles’ department for what you want to offer your learners. I know this is one I can be guilty of!


Pick one (small) thing and concentrate only on getting that finished. When you’re done with that, pick the next small thing and complete that. There’s a reason students are taught to revise in bite-size chunks! Reduce your overwhelm by avoiding trying to multi-task (studies have shown this to be a myth – our brains are actually constantly swapping between tasks, rather than doing more than one thing at a time. Exhausting!).


Ask yourself if you’re really the best person to get everything on your list done. I understand that sometimes funds don’t lend themselves to paying for many different services, but you could also try bartering. There are some places you can advertise a helpful service (such as an hour of coaching) and request an hour of (e.g.) graphic design in return. Search for bartering sites and services local to you.


What other methods have you found useful in dealing with overwhelm? Comment below 🙂