I’ll admit that the past few months have been stressful! I’ve had a lot on my plate, taking courses, launching new services, and working on some exciting upcoming things that will be happening for Bliss & Faith…and getting ready for a new baby in the fall! If you’re on my mailing list then you probably knew about most of this already, but I hadn’t shared much here on the blog since some other topic have taken precedent over talking about all the things that are happening with my on the personal front. I’m slowly but surely learning that the things that are going on with me personally, affect how I perform professionally. It goes without being said that if I’m not focused and I’m feeling overwhelmed in my personal life that it doesn’t make for a very productive business owner.
I have so many exciting things on the agenda, but the feeling of overwhelm has had me feeling quite daunted by them. You may have found yourself in a similar position, especially with the summer starting to wind down. I think its pretty common to want to approach the fall with a lot of new ideas, but summer doesn’t always lend to implementing them so easily. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been wanting to kick back and enjoy the nice weather, before things really kick off in a few months. As my time now is already limited, its going to be even more limited in the fall with a toddler and newborn. I get overwhelmed just thinking about it. Due to feeling this overwhelm and having a lapse in my productivity, I thought I’d do a bit of research on how to stay productive during times of overwhelm. I wanted to share with you some of my findings, in hopes that they will help you too!
– 12 Ways to Stay Productive During Overwhelming Times –
1. Take advantage of quite hours. – Slow down and plan, and don’t be reactive.
This is definitely something I’ll be taking advantage of, especially since my day is rarely ever quiet. The quiet moments allow you to clear your head and refocus yourself. In doing this, you are able to think through your goals and plans, and brainstorm or ponder ways to accomplish them.
2. Delegate smaller tasks.
If you have a team this can be easily done, however if you work solo then there are still ways you can delegate. It may be that you need to hire out to have certain tasks related to your blog or business accomplished. A virtual assistant would be a great resource to employ when you need to delegate tasks out, and many times you can hire them for short periods of time just when you need the help.
3. Plan for tomorrow.
Planning is key, and at the root of organization and making your life that much easier. It may take time up front, but planning pays off in the end. When you plan, it affords you the opportunity to lay everything that you need to get done out and prioritize it. Planning, especially is business is essential, because it allows you to build in contingencies for the ever-changing and uncertainty happenings that may occur.
4. Work smart, not hard.
I think this is everyone’s favorite old school phrase. Unfortunately, its much easier said than done, but so necessary. One of the main reasons that it is so necessary to work smart and not hard is to avoid burn out. As busy moms, solopreneurs, or even side-hustlers, our time is so limited that its easy to get overwhelmed by everything going on in our lives. If we don’t use it wisely we can find ourselves in a very unproductive place. Taking short-cuts where necessary can be very helpful, so that you don’t short change yourself down the line when you’re over-worked and out of time.
5. Seek an expert.
A coach or mentor can be such a huge help during a time where you feel burn out or overwhelm on the horizon. They can help you talk through issues, organize ideas, and plan for the future. The guidance that they can offer during a time of overwhelm can be crucial to your success down the road, because they are able to provide you with professional advice and insight on the next logical or best step to take.
6. Develop a task list.
Listing out all of the tasks that you need to get done allows for you to take them out of your head, and put them in a tangible place. In doing this, you are able to take a good look at them and prioritize them. In addition, you may find that you don’t have as many as you thought you had, and that many can be combined or done simultaneously. Developing a task list takes the pressure off, which during a time of overwhelm can make you feel so much better lifting some of the burden you feel.
7. Keep a to-do list, and stick to it.
Once you’ve developed your task list, you can now begin to organize many of the tasks in the form of a to-do list. Your to-do list can be daily, weekly, or even monthly. Its the short-term version of your task list, and the one that will help to hold you accountable to accomplishing what needs to be done. I love a good list, and writing things down makes me a little more committed to them. The big plus for me is being able to check them off, and feel that sweet sense of accomplishment and success (fist pump!).
8. Avoid procrastination.
My best friend! Its so funny that I struggle with procrastination at times, because I have very good work ethic. Its like once I get started, I can do the absolute best job and put everything into a task. Sometimes, however, its hard to simply get started. When you jump in and do the work, not giving it a lot of unnecessary premeditated thought on how much of a dread it could be, you will be pleasantly surprised at how bad doing the task actually wasn’t. This has happened to me numerous times, well pretty much every time I procrastinate. Not letting your thoughts about something get ahead of you can make you so much more productive than you realize. Before you know it, you’ve accomplished your task and will be ready to move on and tackle the next thing on your list.
9. Let go of things that aren’t high priority.
If its not important let it go. The world will never stop turning, so things will continue to happen, but you have to know when to let them go. If they’re not affecting your health or bottom line, prioritize them further down the list. This is where planning and developing that task list play huge roles, because you’re able to see which tasks aren’t high priority and the one’s you can come back to at a different time.
10. Focus on one thing at a time.
This one is huge, because when you focus on too much at one time you undoubtedly set yourself for overwhelm and not being productive. I’m so guilty of trying to do everything at once, because it tends to be my nature, but I find that in doing so it actually slows me down. I tend to get less and less done the more I put on my plate to try to do at once. When I take one thing at a time and focus on it, I can put my best foot forward and know that whatever I’m producing is of optimal quality. It never fails that when I’ve done a million things at once (blame the mom in me!) that I end up missing or forgetting something, which inevitably wastes time. I loathe sitting around trying to remember all the things I’ve forgotten about, because I was too busy doing too much at once.
11. Start in the middle.
I’ve done this forever, because sometimes starting at the beginning is too overwhelming. When I start in the middle, I can work forward or backward, and find different or new approaches to whatever I’m trying to accomplish. Also, starting in the middle actually allows me to start, instead of sitting around waiting for that lightbulb moment to occur to propel me to start at the beginning. It allows me to think outside the box and be a bit unconventional in my getting things done. This is one of the best ways I’ve found myself fostering my creativity, because it opens up the door for ideas to flow without any set structure. There is always time to organize them later, but the important thing is to get those creative juices flowing.
12. Talk it out; vent to someone.
Many times when we’re overwhelmed and feeling unproductive we just need a listening ear. Talking to a spouse, friend, or other family and letting them know what’s going on can really help. They may have some advice or guidance to offer you, whether it can be implemented now or later. Additionally, talking to someone close to you be more comfortable (and less expensive) than talking to a coach or consultant. Once you talk things out with them, you may have a better idea for how a coach or consultant could best serve you in terms of your business. Getting those initial emotions out of the way allow you think more clearly about your business and the goals you have for it.
At times we are simply zonked out and need to step away from things. Its important to realize the difference between that and just feeling unmotivated or uninspired. If you’ve implemented all or some of the methods above, and still find yourself in a not so great place when it comes to how you feel or our productivity, don’t be afraid to take a break. Take time to take care of yourself, because without self-care, you really can’t take care of anything effectively. Everything starts with you, whether you’re a solopreneur or entrepreneur, so if you’re not firing on all cylinders things will inevitably begin to unravel. You don’t want things to unravel to the point where you or other don’t recognize the person that you are.
I can speak from personal experience, not realizing that I need to step back, and being overwhelmed (especially after having a baby) that I turned into someone I didn’t know. It affect my entire life, including my marriage, me as a mother, and how I treated people. It took me a long time to wake and snap fully back into myself, and I would hate it anyone were to go through a similar thing. I kept pushing myself, without implementing many (okay…most of the things mentioned above) and I found myself not accomplishing anything. The steps above are by no means all inclusive, but they are a start.
You may find that you don’t need to implement some of them or that you need more professional help, and have to seek an outside party. The important thing is to know yourself, be honest with yourself, and stick to your priorities. Productivity doesn’t mean getting a lot done, it means doing the work and getting something done effectively and thoroughly.
Have you ever found yourself in a place of overwhelm? – How did you manage to stay productive?