Six months ago, I was wondering if we were going to survive the storms that continually poured on our business. If there was anything unfortunate that could happen to us, Murphy’s Law it was. We were weathering the repeated crash into the rocks.
Slowly, we started to find steady water. It was much-needed relief from the constant crashing.
It didn’t take long for the skies to look uncertain again. But, this time in a different way. I had to prepare to navigate another type of wave. The wave of too much, all at once.
Why the chaos?
It’s busier than usual for several reasons. To give you an idea of the wave we’re currently experiencing…
- We are waist-deep in promotions for an annual client event happening early next month.
- We just started managing social media for a new local client, which includes six social media channels!
- Next week, we’ll enter a new season of a reality TV show in which we manage the social media content and fan engagement.
- I’m tackling FOUR side projects – two are major and two are timely. All must be ‘me’ at the helm, as we do not yet have a process in place for isolated project work.
- We just hired a new team member and promoted another.
- We’ve committed to blogging not once, but twice per week beginning October 1.
- Half of our clients are preparing their budgets for 2020, requiring us to prepare annual reports and projections for the new year.
Many say, ‘these are all good problems to have!’
Am I grateful? Absolutely! But, I find ‘good’ to be relative. Truthfully, I prefer to use the adjective in more of a balanced sense. It’s good that I’m achieving my business goals. But, it’s not good that I’m going crazy!
Why the heck can’t it just be a steady stream?
After 10 years in business, you would think I would know better! There is no such thing as a steady stream.
This tumultuous ride is reality. It’s what I signed up for when I decided to run my own show, yet it doesn’t get any easier when the shit hits the fan.
How can we navigate these extremes? Is it possible to manage multiple priorities and stay sane? How can we weather the storm and still lead our teams?
I can cite a number of books that have helped me, truly. My friends, my team and my very understanding husband keep me from losing all sanity. And, my loyal friend, Pinot Grigio, is always there to lend a helping hand! 😉
Is it avoidable?
First, I have to share two disclaimers that can help prevent reaching a breaking point. A) Know when to say no! This is not easy and it takes practice. But, it’s so very necessary if we’re already spread thin. We are not limitless superhuman beings no matter how much we think we can do everything and be everywhere. B) Delegate everything possible. I recall a time when I would say things like, “it doesn’t take me that long” or “it’s simple, I can just handle it.” I was wrong. Handling 100 of those ‘simple things’ results in overwhelm. Whatever we can delegate, we should. No matter how simple.
What can be done to navigate the waves?
The best way for me to overcome the unsteady, sometimes unrelenting waters is nothing groundbreaking. But, it works for me and it might work for you, too.
When overwhelm creeps in, I break down every project or task into smaller, actionable pieces. For example, if a current project is to design customized social media images for an event, I develop a list of the type of assets that to include such as sponsors, prizes, and special promotions. Then, I determine how many of each type of asset I’ll develop along with a list of the raw materials (such as logos and fonts) required for creation. It’s important to factor in the coordination and retrieval of those pieces so I can create a Trello card for my designer with specific instructions and timelines. There will be an approval process, editing, and final sign-off so I’ll need to work backward from the projected delivery date.
This formula is replicated across the dozens of clients and hundreds of projects that we manage. This, alone, can be daunting. But, by taking time to plan each project, I’ve saved myself – and my team – the stress of backtracking, revising and scrambling.
The most important part of synthesizing projects is deciding which take priority. In most cases, we have ten or more projects we’re managing on any given day. When parts of a project creep in that are not what’s on the high priority list, I stick it in a folder until I can figure out where it goes and when. If I receive a barrage of texts, emails or Facebook messages about current or new projects, I quickly scan the message and decide if it’s something I need to tackle immediately. If not, it goes in the figure it out later folder. The second most important part of synthesizing projects is remembering to go back to the figure it out later folder. I do this several times a day as I finish the current priority. Then I can weave these pieces into the overarching lists.
If this process sounds like project management, it is. When you think about it, most of what we need to do in business – and in life – is determine what takes priority and how we can accomplish it. Many people procrastinate because they a) feel overwhelmed, b) they do not know where to start, or c) they are perfectionistic. All three of these barriers can be minimized if we can determine our priorities and make them more manageable.
This is not just for those who work in my field or in a business with a constant influx of task-orientated work. For example, if your business is more consultative in nature, you need the headspace to effectively remain present in the moment and optimally deliver your expertise. To do that, you eliminate the ever-present and never-ending noise. That means prioritizing and synthesizing.
I am convinced that business owners have a different chemical make-up. It’s part of our DNA to navigate and overcome storms. Even when it’s a rare time of calm, we know the weather will eventually change. When that happens, we pivot. Just for fun, if you’ve ever watched the show Friends, you might remember the scene with several of the cast members trying to carry the couch up the stairs. Pivot! Click here to watch.