“A YEAR? 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 on a regular basis. Keeping track of it all can be overwhelming.
I decided, long ago, I wasn’t too crazy about ‘overwhelming.’
Step by step, I developed a solution for the stress. Today, I’m sharing it with you.
In a moment, I’ll give you five steps to help you move toward ‘non-overwhelm.’
(Yes, I sometimes invent words :->)
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 problem here? Business lost.
This is why it takes so long to perfect a blog post.
Where must you be perfect?
What’s the visible part of your business where you cannot afford to make mistakes?
The landscaper I mentioned? Those bushes must make it through their first year and still look great. The software developer? A client’s new website had better work 24/7 right from the get-go.
Just keeping up with it all can be overwhelming.
Here is my process for building non-overwhelm
into my daily schedule.
No matter your area of expertise, I hope you can
tweak these steps for your use.
STEP 1: Create your base
Before I started this journey, I perfected six posts while still ‘working for the man.’
Building in the Step 1 non-overwhelm
I needed those six-months of posts to support my goal: having good examples of my work ‘out there’ while I pursued other projects.
For you, it might be landscaping a couple of friends’ yards or creating their websites while you still have time to change your procedures or find better suppliers.
Experience, glowing testimonials, and several examples to show others? Pure gold.
But it’s important to build in processes to help us enjoy the journey.
STEP 2: Set up your ongoing process
Three of my best up-front business decisions were:
• Naming a recurring day each month as posting day.
• Specifying a weekly Blog Day where I work only on posts.
• Creating a checklist to keep me on track.
My checklist includes steps in the writing process, along with posting technicalities.
Building in the Step 2 non-overwhelm
Our lists will be different, but the purpose is the same:
Keeping us on track!
Surprising side-effects of my second and third bullets:
• Blog creation 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
This might be the most difficult step, but stick with the plan on Monday.
Then, as you move through each day, tweak 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. Yeah, now.
But it took a while to put it together and make it work.
Building in the 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.
However, I also leave time to address maintenance issues (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, isn’t it? 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 the process options in Step 3 – so you’re ready for next week – and move on.
Building in the Step 4 non-overwhelm
“Move on?!” you may ask. “How does that happen?
We have an angry client.”
No … no, we don’t, because we’ve built in the non-overwhelm.
When we try something new, we start with friends – or a willing, trusted client – needing our product or service.
They know we’re learning, and they are usually forthcoming with excellent feedback.
STEP 5: Maintain it all
I build into my schedule an important step: time to maintain my business.
Three parts of my ongoing maintenance are:
• Learning about my craft (others’ blogs and training, etc.)
• Setting aside a ‘catch up’ day each week
• Attending specially selected networking venues
Building in the Step 5 non-overwhelm
(In other posts, I’ll address shutting the business down each week, working on
electronic files as they come in, and getting our schedules under control.)
‘Catch-up’ day is my biggest non-overwhelm boost. Try it!
It’s a day to catch up on those little bits and pieces.
Researching ideas from others in our fields can keep us motivated.
That’s calming, too.
Regarding the networking: it took me two years to explore possibilities and winnow the list down to the two best groups for me. It was worth the effort.
I strongly suggest building your professional face-to-face network right along with your online groups.
Remember: ‘maintain’ can mean actual maintenance!
Whether it’s working with my webmaster, my computer expert, or doing the office paperwork, I put ongoing maintenance into the schedule.
HUGE in the non-overwhelm department.
Your Takeaway: No matter your area of expertise, I hope you’ve found my non-overwhelm ideas helpful and can incorporate them into your process.
Note: I’d be glad to help you think through your possibilities in creating a more peaceful environment. I promise: it isn’t a sales call and there’s no cost to you.
Join the Conversation: What is your favorite way to build ‘non-overwhelm’ into your schedule? Please share this post and join the conversation by commenting below.
Let’s all learn from each other!