How do you stay on top of your business, when life takes you by surprise?
One minute everything’s tickety boo and the next you’ve been blindsided by some unexpected personal challenge that’s going to take a while to work through.
Meanwhile your business is not going to run itself. Your to-do list includes serving up original content for your blog and social media, while simultaneously serving your clients (not to mention serving up wholesome healthy meals for your family), preparing for that upcoming launch, maintaining your site, taking care of administration… how are you supposed to keep all of this going in times of stress, worry or distraction?
It’s time to bring things back to basics. In times of strain, you need to work out how to operate your business on ‘essentials only’ mode, so you can channel your energy towards the things that really matter right now.
Here’s how to find your essentials:
Each evening, before you go to bed, make a list of the three most important tasks for the following day. These are the fundamental activities you need to complete to keep your business ticking over. Make it your first priority to get those things done – before you check your email or social media. Tick them off whenever you can throughout the day – and consider anything else you get done during this time as a bonus.
- Take care of your clients
It’s important that your clients continue to feel cared for, so if you can, be up front about the fact that you’re facing challenges right now and give them revised timeframes for completion of their projects. Consider turning on your “out of office” notification, to let your clients know that you’re only checking email at certain times of day and offer a timeframe in which you will get back to them. Do the same with the voicemail on your phone.
- Daily journalling –
When time is stretched, it’s extra important to be focused when you’re working with your clients or on your business. So don’t let your daily practice of journalling slide – instead use it as an opportunity to process whatever is on your mind. Ten minutes is all you need, just write whatever comes to mind and try to get it done first thing in the morning. This will not only give you valuable outlet but may generate some important business insights too.
- Simplify your content creation
We’ve all heard that consistency is key when it comes to blogging and social media. Personally I don’t believe that skipping a few days of posting, or not being able to complete a blog for a week is that big a deal.If you’re not in the right headspace to create a lot of original content, don’t put too much pressure on yourself – but don’t let it fall away completely either. Make a time once a week to find useful and relevant content from other bloggers and entrepreneurs that you can share, then schedule these posts ahead of time. Try out a simpler form of blogging – like sharing a short but effective tip in a couple of paragraphs at most. Consider re-sharing blogs from your archive, both on your Facebook page and in your newsletters, as recent subscribers have most likely not seen these posts.
- Control what comes into your headspace
If there is one thing I learned from working in a rolling newsroom for 6 years, it’s that the information we consume has a profound effect on the way we see the world, as well as on our emotional and mental state. Troubling news stories can raise your anxiety, so if you don’t need to consume it, simply step away. Notice what makes you feel uneasy and unlike those Facebook pages for a while (if not for good).In times of personal strain, I also ease off on the podcasts, audio books and other intense educational content I usually consume while driving, walking, or cooking. It’s important to give yourself a mental break, so swap information consumption for peace and quiet, or the pleasure of listening to beautiful music (and singing along).
- Reach out to your business besties
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask a colleague to write a guest post for your site, or pass on work to others in your network if you really can’t meet the deadlines. People love to help others in stressful times.If you don’t already have a Virtual Assistant, I don’t recommend trying to hire one in a rush. It takes time to find the right person, integrate them into your business and train them up to do things “your way”. Instead, consider what simple tasks could be easily outsourced – like creating memes or scheduling social media posts, and ask a friend for a recommendation.
- Don’t forget to follow up
If there are potential clients lurking around, keep up some gentle contact. The last thing you want to do is let all your leads go quiet and have to start again when you’re ready to get back into your work.
- Take care of yourself
When life gets stressful it’s easy to let the things that nourish you slide. Don’t let that happen. Take time to prepare nourishing food, get a good night’s sleep whenever possible and do a little exercise.
And do things that bring you joy. Find a few minutes to enjoy simple pleasures like a hot bath, dancing around a music or reading a book in the sun. These moments will help give your stress hormones a break and fuel your stamina as you work through this challenge.
Most importantly, go gently on yourself. It’s easy to beat yourself up because you miss a blog, a launch date slides out or you’re simply not meeting the goals you have set. When you take a longer-term view, none of that is really likely to matter that much. Keep these essentials in place and you’ll be able to pick the pace up again as soon as you’re able.
Sign up here for my ‘Write to the Heart of Your Message’ workbook – 12 Essential Questions to Refine Your Core Message, so you can write for your business with clarity, focus and passion.
How do you make it through times of stress? Share your tips in the comments below.