Does it feel like your project or business – the one you began with so much enthusiasm – is starting to take a back seat to the rest of your life? Do you hear those statistics about new businesses failing and wonder if you might be headed in that direction?
The question of why some businesses fail is a good one. You could blame undercapitalization, faulty market research or a downturn in the economy. But I think the primary culprit is overwhelm.
Last week I made my case for why, when life gets crazy, you should scale back your projects rather than putting them on hold.
This week, I want to share what’s been working for me as I attempt to do exactly that!
Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to keep your projects moving forward even when you’re short on time and bandwidth, regardless of whether your ‘project’ is a business or major life change, and regardless of whether you’re just beginning or farther into the process:
1. Be realistic:
Remember (from last week), the aim here is to keep things going but avoid burnout.
Be realistic about how much time you can commit, and then reduce that by a half to a third. (That also happens to be my favorite travel tip for packing lightly!)
You can always add more into your schedule if you find additional time.
Under-scheduling is much better than overcommitting, because productivity skyrockets when you maintain a positive-feedback loop. (Read more about this and the Harvard Business Review’s supporting study by downloading our free Idea to I Did It ebook, here.)
Personally, I spent about six hours on my business for two of the last three weeks, and only about two hours now that I’m on my road trip to my new home.
One of the most important things you can do in business AND life is to figure out your priorities. Clarity makes everything better.
For more on this, check out No, No, No (Assuming Risk) – my very first post on this site! (That should tell you how seriously I take this topic.)
It’s about the power of saying no to those things that aren’t worth prioritizing, and why U.S. military leaders coined the term “assuming risk” to describe a tactic that keeps them focused and productive even when the stakes are so high.
Right now, producing content is really important in my business, so I committed to maintaining my weekly publication schedule. I’m also preparing to launch a podcast in a few months, so even though it isn’t urgent at the moment, it’s extremely important and worth prioritizing.
So what’s my big “No” (where I assume risk)? Income, for one. I made sure that I didn’t have any long-term coaching clients during this time, restricting myself to shorter introductory packages so that I’d have more control over the timing.
Social media is also taking a back seat, along with any kind of promotion or professional development (All those articles filled with great content from mentors and thought leaders? I guess I’ll get to them later if I’m meant to see them.)
Once you’ve figured out your priorities, how can you make the related tasks as streamlined and time-efficient as possible? What can be outsourced? What’s ahead on the calendar that will help or hinder you?
You want to map out everything so that you don’t get caught by surprise and drop the ball.
Weeks before the movers were at my house, it was already easy to imagine how difficult it would be to produce a new blog post, so I lined up a guest post (the fabulous 1 Simple Strategy for Creating Success). Don’t be afraid to tap into your network to get you through the lean times!
4. Get Accountable
It’s natural to need a little extra accountability during this time.
Be honest about how much you need, and put something in place. Some people do fine with simple calendar notifications or public declarations. Others need an accountability group or to hire a private coach.
My go-to is a mastermind group, and I’ve made space for it during these busy weeks. Of course I value the advice and friendship of my fellow business owners, but I also know myself and recognize that our weekly check-ins help me keep reaching for new levels in my business.
Just this week they encouraged me to push past resistance and reach out to a dream podcast guest for an interview (despite the fact that I haven’t launched so have no audience). Guess what? We’ll be recording later this month!
5. Less attachment, more c’est la vie
Give yourself permission to take things a little less seriously, and cut yourself some slack if something unexpected gets in the way of your plans.
This is especially important for recovering perfectionists (like me)!
…Maybe the world won’t fall apart if your post comes out a few hours late (I’m testing that right now).
…Maybe your future clients will be willing to wait a few weeks to book with you.
…Maybe people will still find value in your work even if you’re not the social media queen.
There’s a sweet spot that lies somewhere between your high standards and completely blowing everything off, and that’s exactly where both business and life thrives. (Hint: That spot isn’t static. It shifts over time.)
Look back over this list whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, and I guarantee you’ll see that you’ve veered off track on at least one of the points. If you can incorporate all five, you’ll be fine.
Here’s to maintaining your sanity AND your goals,