An entrepreneur wants to be busy. However, the life of a business owner can be overwhelming and a type of busy like no one else will understand. Managing a heavy workload is challenging and can lead to burnout. Burnout is an entire topic on its own, but it can have devastating effects on you personally and your business. For this post, I wanted to take a more proactive approach to burnout and discuss ways to prevent it by providing tools to ensure you can better manage your busy times. Last year, I reached torrential levels of busy and knew I needed to step back and get things back in balance. This is why I have not had a post since October and during this time I have learned a great deal that I wanted to share for my first post for 2016.
There may be a more eloquent term for this one, but this is what I do every time I am feeling overwhelmed. And it is literally what it sounds like; I take every idea, task, frustration and item that is overcrowding my brain and I dump it onto paper. I just write it all out and immediately feel better. Every time I feel overwhelmed, like I cannot think clearly, or unorganized, I know it is time for a brain dump. Try it. And do it any way that works best for you; on paper, the computer, napkins or putting notes in your phone. Don’t worry about the hows of this process, just dump your brain!
So many people do a little bit of everything and end up getting nothing done. After you have done your brain dump, walk away and take some time to yourself. When you are ready (and do not wait too long), go back to your brain dump and categorize everything you wrote down. I keep brain dump sheets based on each area of my business. This is where I store all of my ideas and to dos and I add to them every time something new pops into my mind (or put it into my phone until I can transfer it).
I only take items off a brain dump and put them on my task list when they are priority. Most times, we think everything is a priority. But if you are thinking about each and every thing you have to do, you overwhelm yourself. A past business coach taught me to go through and grade my tasks A-D. A’s and B’s can go on your task list, but B’s do not happen until A’s are complete. C’s move onto your task list as you complete items. And D’s are items that can be delegated. If you are feeling more stressed than usual, only put one item on your A list and do not think or do anything else until that item is complete. And do not avoid the tasks you hate the most. Start with those or the most challenging ones and keep the ones you enjoy for later on the list!
The next step it to identify ways to improve your processes. Are there certain tasks that take far too long and you know there must be a better way? Have you been dreaming of investing in an app that will streamline some of your work? What are you waiting for? If you are feeling overwhelmed and on the verge of burnout, it is time to start to identify deficiencies and create solutions. And if you are not sure what the solutions may be, start asking others in your industry for programs they have used to help them spend their time more effectively. Do not get scared of pricing. Take the time to analyse the cost of these programs and identify the ROI (return on investment) for them.
For example, we had recently identified that scheduling of team was becoming a very long and confusing process that no one enjoyed. Errors were often made and too much time was being spent on something that was a critical, but time consuming task for the business. We looked at a variety of options and the most expensive one provided the best results. We were looking at adding $50 a month to obtain this service, which at first seemed expensive. However, we were able to identify that it would save us up to 20 hours a month, and once we realized that, the $50 cost seemed like a steal.
Streamline and create systems for your business. Even if it is just you right now, it is important that you start to document your processes and create systems. This is a critical part of your growth and will prevent time wasted and being in a panic trying to catch up on this during busy times. We should strive to be more proactive in our business as too many people operate by reacting to day to day occurrences which creates unnecessary stress. By creating systems, you create step by step processes that become habits. And when they become habits, you become faster at getting them done. This also makes training new team much more efficient and enjoyable for all. It also aids in quality control and ensures consistency within your business.
Have a task that you absolutely hate? Is there a part of your business that you will avoid at all costs? Is there an area that is falling far behind and you want nothing to do with? These are all signs that this is something you need to look at outsourcing. Are there certain parts of your business that you know someone could do much better than yourself? Or is there an area you know could be done more professionally and be a better representation of your business than what you are able to do? These are both signs of another task that you should outsource. This follows the same points outlined under the Identify Deficiencies section; think about the ROI on these items and assess if your time is better spent on another area of your business. You only have so many hours in a day and you will see your business grow much further if you can begin to work on it versus in it. Outsourcing is an integral part of business growth and success.
This topic was brought up in a Facebook group I am on and there were some excellent suggestions. A friend mentioned thinking of outsourcing on a personal level as well, which is equally as important, especially when we are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. This may mean looking at ways you can outsource personal tasks such as hiring a house cleaner, a dog waste pick up company, having your groceries delivered or bringing in a company for yard maintenance. Your time is valuable in your business, but your personal time is as important. Do you want to spend it doing tasks at home that you hate?
Take a Break
And finally, give yourself time off. This seems like the last thing we should do, especially when we can barely think straight because we have too much to do. But you need a clear head. Even if you just give yourself a day to get caught up on some sleep and take care of yourself. Unplug and recharge. And plan vacations. I cringe whenever I hear entrepreneurs bragging about not taking time off and never taking holidays. Do not be proud of this. You are not helping your business when you do not take care of yourself. Stepping away from the business offers you time to reflect and think about it versus becoming absorbed in it. If finances are an issue, take a staycation and get caught up on personal projects, pick up an old hobby and enjoy time with your loved ones. Your business will thank you for it.
Do you have ways you get things back on track when the busyness has caused you to derail? Have you used any specific business apps or programs that helped you better manage your time or run your business? Please share in the comments below or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!