As small business owners suffered through the ‘overwhelm’ known as 2020 (!), I know some of us used a bit of the shutdown time to re-work company procedures.
In that spirit, I’ve updated the flagship to my ‘non-overwhelm’ series that began in 2018.
Even without a pandemic, this part of my business journey was painful.
How can it take so much time to figure out simple business processes?!?
Mainly ’cause those big, honkin’ courses we took or business books we read were often taught/written by people … who don’t own a company.
They’ve never been the little guy. They’ve always had a boss. They’ve never been the boss.
As Dogbert would shout – as he waves a disgusted paw – “BAH!” 😎
So, here’s my take.
For new subscribers, this may be your first look into my new word:
I hope you grab a helpful tidbit … or three.
Happy New Year!
“It takes you hours to update your website? Or to write a 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.
As business owners, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with it all.
I decided, long ago, I wasn’t too crazy about ‘overwhelmed.’
So, I developed a 7-part solution to keeping ducks in rows.
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 heading into the overwhelmed territory.
If you’re a landscaper or a software developer, an error on your website isn’t such a big deal.
It’s met with, “Oh, too bad. Someone missed that.”
But I offer clients my suggestions for improving their website’s
usability – ease of use – for their visitors.
Errors on my pages? Making my site more difficult to use?
Like you, there are some places I can’t mess up!
Where must you be perfect?
What’s the visible part of your business where you cannot 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.
Keeping up with it all can be overwhelming.
Here are the first 5 steps I take to non-overwhelm.
I follow Steps 3-5 – faithfully – every week.
(Grrr! Sometimes it’s hard to do!)
No matter your area of expertise, you can tweak this information for your use.
STEP 1: Create your base
When I started my entrepreneurial journey, my focus was on writing, editing, and proofreading.
I come from the world of contract technical training and writing, most often in an IT environment. I perfected several blog posts (on weekends!) for my own company while ‘working for the man.’
Building in Step 1 non-overwhelm
I needed six months of articles to support my goal: having good examples of my work on display while pursuing client 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 procedures to make the journey more enjoyable.
STEP 2: Set up your process
My 3 best up-front company process decisions were:
• Specifying a weekly MyBiz Day where I work on my business, not in it.
• Setting a schedule for posting articles (no shirking!).
• Creating a PAPER checklist, every Friday, for the next week.
My checklist shows a ‘catch up day,’ builds in time for client work, and allows me to update my website when needed.
Without impacting my schedule (Woo hoo!)
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:
• MyBiz Day is so different from client work, it’s relaxing.
• The checklist helps me sleep at night. My brain rests, too.
STEP 3: Follow your process!
No matter how difficult, stick with your plan at the start of every week.
As you move through each day, tweak the steps as needed.
By week’s end, you’ll have your updated process.
Test it next week and change what doesn’t work.
This isn’t a quick fix.
It’s a paradigm shift. Don’t allow other projects to
sneak in where they don’t belong
Creating the ‘catch up’ day was a non-overwhelm leap forward for me.
The non-critical projects that want to sneak into MyBiz Day?
Moved to the next Monday.
Instant peace of mind and building in accomplishment.
Building in Step 3 non-overwhelm
On MyBiz Day, I spend most of my time improving things: website, Pinterest boards, posts to the LinkedIn groups where I participate, or maybe a checklist needing my attention.
This creates built-in calm and encouragement. For one thing, I get to methodically see projects come together into their final result.
Just in case, I leave time to address WordPress maintenance issues and delegate the work to others, if necessary.
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 dies in the sun, or a website link goes nowhere.
Add a note to your Lessons Learned file, update your 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
trusted client – needing the product or service
They know we’re learning and 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:
• Using part of the ‘Catch up’ day, when necessary.
• Learning about my craft (others’ blogs, training courses, etc.).
• Attending specially-selected networking venues.
Building in Step 5 non-overwhelm
‘Catch-up’ day is my biggest non-overwhelm boost.
It’s a time to wrangle those little bits and pieces and march ducks into rows.
Monday is my catch-up day because it gives my week a positive start.
I accomplish something quickly on the first day back in the office.
Researching ideas from others in our fields keeps us motivated.
That’s calming, too.
Regarding 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 admin, 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 processes.
Note: I’d be glad to help you get past business owner overwhelm! Let’s think through possibilities in creating your more peaceful environment.
Join the Conversation:
What is your favorite way to build ‘non-overwhelm’ into your schedule?
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Let’s all learn from each other, and Happy New Year!
Thanks for your time today. I know you’re busy.
Hope to hear from you soon,