As we suffered through the 2020 shutdowns, I know some of you used a bit of that ‘extra’ time to re-think company procedures.
I thought this might be the perfect time to resend this post, the flagship to my ‘non-overwhelm’ series that began in 2018.
Even without a pandemic, this part of my business journey was painful. I find, though, that sharing it with others is still helpful and encouraging … to us all!
For new subscribers, this may be your first look into my new word:
I think you’re gonna love it, and I hope you grab a helpful tidbit or two for your business (and life).
Oh! and links are here for you if you’d like to check out the entire series.
Happy New Year!
“Months? It takes you six months to write a blog post?”
My friend’s eyes were deer-in-headlights big, and his eyebrows shot up.
The same thing has probably happened to you.
Others rarely understand the complexity of our work.
They don’t see the details behind ‘Task A,’ and they’ve never heard of ‘Task H.’ However, we deal with A-through-Z regularly. Keeping track of it all can be overwhelming.
I decided, long ago, I wasn’t too crazy about ‘overwhelming.’
To protect my health, I developed a seven-part solution to the stress of keeping ducks in rows and leaving enough time to do it all.
And I coined a new word: ‘non-overwhelm.’
Today, I share the first 5 steps in my process to keep it all together business- and life-wise … without becoming overwhelmed by it all.
If you’re a landscaper or a software developer, a minor error in spelling or grammar on a handout isn’t such a big deal.
It’s met with, “Oh, too bad. Someone missed that.”
One tiny proofing error on my site?
This is why it takes me so long to perfect one of my lengthy blog posts (such as this one).
Sandwiching it in between client work can be tricky.
And – from jotting down the first glimmer of an idea, doing the topic research, writing, editing, and proofing – it can take a while to get ‘er done.
Where must you be perfect?
What’s the visible part of your business where you can’t afford mistakes?
For the landscaper I mentioned, those bushes must make it through their first year and still look great.
The software developer? Clients’ websites must work 24/7. Immediately.
Keeping up with it all can be overwhelming.
Here are the five steps I take for building
non-overwhelm into my daily schedule.
No matter your area of expertise, you can
tweak this information for your use.
STEP 1: Create your base
Before I started this journey, I perfected six posts while ‘working for the man.’
Building in Step 1 non-overwhelm
I needed six-months of blog posts to support my goal: having good examples of my work ‘out there’ while pursuing other projects.
For you, it might be landscaping a friend’s yard or creating their website while you still have time to change your procedures or find better suppliers.
Experience, glowing testimonials, and several examples to show others?
While we’re at it, we can build in procedures to make the journey more enjoyable.
STEP 2: Set up your process
My best up-front company process decisions were:
• Specifying a weekly Blog Day where I work only on posts.
• Naming a recurring day each month as posting day.
• Creating a checklist to keep me on track.
My checklist includes steps in the writing process, behind-the-scenes technicalities for the website, and leaving time for coaching clients in my strategic website assessment program (for example).
Building in Step 2 non-overwhelm
Our lists will be different, but the purpose is the same:
Keeping us on track!
Surprising side-effects of my first and third bullets:
• Blog Day is so different from client work, it’s relaxing.
• The checklist helps me sleep at night. My brain can rest, too.
STEP 3: Follow your process!
No matter how difficult, stick with the plan every Monday.
As you move through each day, tweak the process as needed.
By Friday, you’ll have your updated process.
Test it next week, and change what doesn’t work.
This isn’t a quick fix. You won’t perfect anything overnight.
For example, here’s my current Blog Day process:
• Review the next month’s release.
• Edit other in-process files.
• Check for blog maintenance issues.
A pretty good list, right? Logical. Succinct.
It took a while to get it together because it was a paradigm shift.
Not letting anything get in the way?
But … but ….
I removed things that didn’t have to be done on this special day (which was more time-consuming than you might think).
Building in Step 3 non-overwhelm
Note that, on Blog Day, I spend most of my time improving files.
This creates built-in calm and encouragement as I see posts come together into the final result ( over allll those months 😉 ).
Just in case, I leave time to address WordPress behind-the-scenes maintenance issues for my blog (more about this, later) and delegate the work to others.
No matter our business, delegating isn’t easy.
It used to be ‘just us,’ and it’s hard to let go.
Once we can, it’s liberating.
STEP 4: ‘Rinse and repeat’
As it tells us on the shampoo bottle, repeat as necessary.
No matter the timeline, the non-overwhelm process is the same:
1. Give yourself plenty of time to perform the work.
2. Walk away and let it ‘season’ a bit.
3. Revisit it later.
4. Make it better.
5. Repeat #1-#4 as necessary.
Sometimes, #4 (‘Make it better’) comes from a hard lesson: a shrub you planted dies in the sun, or a website link goes nowhere.
Add a note to your Lessons Learned file, update options in STEP 3 (‘Follow your process’), and m-o-v-e on.
Building in Step 4 non-overwhelm
“Move on?! How? We have an angry client!”
No … no, we don’t, because we build in non-overwhelm.
When we try something new, we start with friends – or a willing,
trusted client – needing the product or service.
They know we’re learning and usually provide helpful feedback.
STEP 5: Maintain and grow
Regularly schedule a time to maintain and grow your business.
Three parts of my ongoing maintenance are:
• Learning about my craft (others’ blogs, training courses, etc.).
• Setting aside a ‘catch up’ day each week.
• Attending specially-selected networking venues.
Building in Step 5 non-overwhelm
(In other posts, I’ll address shutting the business down each week,
plus wrangling our ever-present paperwork.)
‘Catch-up’ day is my biggest non-overwhelm boost.
It’s a day to wrangle those little bits and pieces and march ducks into rows.
Researching ideas from others in our fields can keep us motivated.
That’s calming, too.
Regarding the networking: I strongly suggest building a professional ‘live’ network, not just online groups.
It took me two years to explore local face-to-face venues and finally winnow the list down to the two best groups for me.
Tiring but worth the effort.
‘Maintain’ can mean actual maintenance!
Whether it’s working with my webmaster, my computer expert, or doing the office paperwork, I schedule ongoing maintenance.
HUGE in the non-overwhelm department.
Try it! I know it works!
Your Takeaway: No matter your area of expertise, incorporating ‘non-overwhelm’ steps can add peace to your business process.
Note: I’d be glad to help you think through your possibilities in creating a more peaceful environment. I promise: no invoice, and it’s not a sales call!
Join the Conversation:
What is your favorite way to build ‘non-overwhelm’ into your schedule?
Please share in the Comments section, send this post to a business buddy, and subscribe so you won’t miss my helpful tech and text posts.
I promise: no inbox stuffing or sharing your personal information.
Let’s all learn from each other, and Happy New Year!
Thanks for your time today. I know you’re busy.
Email me if you have questions about this post, need a quick bit of advice on your tech or text project, or want ideas for updating your project templates. No invoice.
Hope to hear from you soon,
When you have a few minutes, check out the other encouraging posts in this series. Enjoy!