After launching a new business 9 weeks ago, I was super-excited. I was positive, energetic and excited about what was to inevitably happen over the coming year, and how I would finally be able to truly help small business owners get real results with their online marketing.
I’ve accomplished so much over these first 9 weeks and have had a lot of success, but I’m suddenly overwhelmed by my commitments and responsibilities… and it’s paralyzing. It’s also made me very anxious and stressed… and is affecting my relationships with those around me. If someone has any expectation of me, I feel a sense of resentment. This however isn’t their problem to solve, it’s mine.
I’ve been meaning to start writing blog posts, in addition to publishing helpful videos, and I thought this is a good place as any to start.
As small business owners, this overwhelm can be triggered by many things, and I’ve identified a few that seem to be common:
• New challenges arise in your business.
• New opportunities present themselves. (Something shiny and new.)
• New competition shows up.
These will split your focus and you will lose sight of your long-term goals for your business, and if you don’t course correct quickly, it could hurt your business and slow growth.
I know I’m not alone as a small business owner who from time-to-time runs into this wall, so I thought I would share with you 5 ways you and I can overcome this paralysis, and get back on track towards achieving the success we can have in our businesses, if we’re only willing to do the work.
1. Outline Your Priorities Daily
We really need to have a morning routine. Exercise, journaling, mediating, whatever… but also take five minutes before you begin your day, before you respond to a single email or start swiping up on Facebook. Take just five minutes and write down your key priorities for the day. Maybe it’s only three things. (Sometime a few things is best.)
Try batching some of your tasks. Pick a specific time to respond to all your emails, or to do your social media engagement. To do these sporadically throughout the day, you may never complete the daily priorities that you wrote down.
Plan for interruptions. I’m guilty of trying to schedule every minute of the day and not planning for the surprises that come up. If an important client calls and wants to chat on the phone about a $10K video production, I need to take that call and be on the phone with her as long as she wants me to be. If you have kids or pets, anything can come up that needs immediate attention. If you’re “scheduler” like me, always “schedule” in some padding.
2. Have Laser-Like Focus
If you must chase down two rabbits, you can’t focus on both at the same time, or you’ll never catch either. Focus on one rabbit. Catch it. Then focus on the second rabbit. Seems simple enough, right? It should be, but we typically try and do too much at one time.
“To do two things at once is to do neither.” – Publilius Syrus, Roman author (Fl. B.C. 1st cent)
Now that you have identified your top priorities for the day, choose one and only one… and focus only on that task until it is complete.
My laser-like focus right now is on this blog post. I’m not moving on to anything else until this is finished and posted on my website, otherwise it will never get completed and I’ll never start writing these blog posts that I’ve been meaning to add to my marketing strategy.
3. Identify Distractions
Perhaps more important than a To-Do List is a Not-To-Do List. You know what your distractions are. Identify them and write them down. Facebook. Dishes and laundry. Television. Whatever it is, identify it.
Mine is news. I have a news addiction. I can’t seem to get enough of American Politics. It’s a problem and I’m in the process of replacing that distraction with something else that will help move me towards my long-term goals, like reading inspirational articles about small business success.
If you find yourself doing something and you’re not sure if it’s a distraction or not, just ask yourself, “Does this move me towards one of my long-term goals?” If “Yes”, your good. If “No”, stop immediately and look at your daily priority list. Pick something, and focus on it until it’s finished!
4. Say “No” More Often
I’m bad with this one. I’m a “Yes Guy”. I like to please people. I’m working on this and getting better, but it’s a process.
Not only do I say “Yes” to a commitment when it doesn’t get me closer to one of my long-term goals, I sometimes offer to do something for someone else when it doesn’t get me closer to a long-term goal. What is up with that? I believe I have a deep need for people to appreciate and accept me, and it’s a way for me to satisfy this need. (As I said, it’s something I’m working on.)
You and I both need to say no more often. We should even consider looking at our existing commitments and backing out of all of them that aren’t serving us, our clients, or our families.
5. Take It Easy
I feel strongly that we are not only on this planet for this short time to work. We’re here to live, love and laugh too. With our families. Enjoy great food. Go on grand adventures.
This is important for the success of our small businesses too. We need to step away from our business to be less overwhelmed by it. It makes sense. If you have a challenge in your business, when you step away from it, do something mindless like physical exercise, or a board game with the family, cook a creative meal from scratch… your subconscious mind can do the work for you. It’s an incredible thing. You’ll get back to work the following day and you’ll find you have some answers that relate to your challenge.
There will be times of course that we need to work late. You’ve got a big event or a strict deadline, and I think it’s okay to work hard and for long hours, but not all of the time. It’s not sustainable. I’ve done it. You get the work finished, but eventually it all catches up with you and you get sick, or you start to resent your work. Stress builds. And you have a melt down.
Well there it is. My first blog post on this website… and a daily priority completed!
These are the 5 ways that we can remove the “overwhelm” in our businesses and start getting better results that will move us towards our long-term goals, so we can start thriving in our businesses and not just surviving.