If you’re running your own business, or working for a small company, you know what it’s like to have SO much to do, and SO little time to do it all. Tasks keep piling, and you keep grinding away, and sometimes nothing on your original to do list gets done.
And sometimes, in the middle of one of those hectic days, you stop what you’re doing, sit and stare at your computer screen or your notepad and do nothing at all, because you just don’t know where to start. In creeps stress, you’re feeling overwhelmed with all that needs to be done and you may get tense, your shoulders ache – if that’s where you hold your stress, like I do – and you sigh. It’s ok. This happens to many of us, if not all, at some point. Be gentle on yourself and read on to find ways that help us avoid the stress block and meltdown 🙂
1. Make a plan. I know what you’re thinking. Every time I make a plan, 80 different things come up and I never get anything done. That’s ok, we are still making a plan, but this plan is for your entire day, from the moment you wake up until the moment you sleep. Read on for the plan….
2. Create boundaries and office hours. We know that your work is important to you, we love our jobs too! But there is a time to turn on for the day and a time to shut it off. If your brain is focused on work too long, it has no time to recharge and eventually, you will feel the burnout. So set office hours where your brain is set to function – and don’t be too ambitious, 8 hours is plenty long enough. 6.5 hours plus a couple stretch breaks and a lunch break is really your ideal work time.
In Denmark, they’ve cut their work week down to 30 hours and saw an increase in productivity – studies don’t lie!
Also, set boundaries. You may have clients that need to get a hold of you and will do so at any time of the day if you let them. If they are in your time zone, it’s best to keep them contacting you during your above set office hours. If you have clients on a different time zone, rely on email for communication mostly, and schedule meetings when you need to at a time that suits you both.
3. Sit with your thoughts. Now that you’ve established your working hours, you’ll know what time you need to wake up for the day and how much time it will take to get ready, get the kids off to school and such. Schedule in 10 minutes of your morning routine to sit with your thoughts. Call it meditation, call it gathering your thoughts, but sit. And breathe. And let anything come into your mind, think about it, then let it go. If it’s important, write it down. Don’t forget the breathing part. If you want, you can add a positive affirmation to your breathing. “Today I am going to do amazing things” or “everything is going to work out for me” are two that come to mind. This will truly set the tone for your day.
4. Eat. Meal and snack prepping is important. Of course it’s good for you to eat and eat well, you know this. If you’re like me, I tend to forget to eat, or skip a meal because I’m busy. But what I find is that I become more sluggish, and my brain cannot focus. Then I think back to my gut health – did you know that your gut is basically a brain? It actually sends signals TO your brain and tells it what to do, and even feel. Poor gut health is a huge factor in depression and fatigue, so instead of having the mindset of not eating because you’re busy or want to lose 5 pounds anyway, know that not eating well affects SO much more and will affect your productivity.
Meal prep on Sundays seems to work best – cut up veggies, make a batch of soup, make sure you have everything for smoothies, keep nuts on hand for protein! This way, you can grab something quickly if you’re lacking time.
5. Take breaks. I’m the worst for this. I get it. There can be a lot of pressure to get things done for clients, for your boss or for your business. There are also times, where I get squirrely from sitting and concentrating too long. You can tell that you need a break when you start jumping from one task to another or one client to another without completing anything. It means you are distracted and your brain just needs a little reset.
Step away from your desk, go outside, talk to a coworker, stare at a wall – whatever it is, take a 10-15 minute break. If your boss is upset about your break – find a new job (haha).
That being said, take that lunch break too, and go enjoy the soup that you prepped on Sunday.
Bonus points for stretching out your neck and glutes, because we all know that working on a computer all day is not a natural position for our bodies!
6. Time chunk. If you have multiple clients or multiple projects, it’s easy to jump from one to the next (especially if you are feeling squirrely, as I mentioned above). So our best advice is to chunk your day into 1 – 2 hour chunks and only focus on one project or client at a time.
For instance, check your email twice per day only, if you can. First thing in the morning, see what came in, make a list of things to do, set priorities. Then take those priorities and do one at a time, from start to finish. It will feel good to check things off your list! Then check back on emails in the last part of your day to make sure you’ve got it all done, or so you can add things on to tomorrows list.
7. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Is your work creative? Do you need to design, or even problem solve? Are you coming up blank or not producing what you know you’re capable of? DON’T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF. Flowers don’t bloom all year round and you aren’t expected to either. Being creative is a process and sometimes it’s just not the right time. And that’s ok. Do some of the mundane tasks on your list for a while, or take the time to do something that inspires you. Best yet, get outside. The fresh air and the trees are proven to boost you overall mood and that creativity will come back to you.
8. Get active. Before or after your work day, it is important for more than just your physical health to get your sweat on. Whether it be yoga, hitting the gym or joining a group bootcamp, your body needs to MOVE during the day – especially if you’re at a desk like us for a large chunk of your day. It will also help you sleep and not overthink.
9. Sleep. Burning the midnight oil is going to happen from time to time – even if we set all of the above rules and routines in place. Websites go down, or clients have emergencies and you are there to help – because you are amazing and your clients can rely on you. But let’s keep it to ‘from time to time’. Sleep is as important as eating and exercising. Without it, your body will not function at its peak performance, and most definitely your brain won’t either. Depending on your body, really try and get 7-8 hours of sleep in per night and you’ll feel ready to face any day!
10. Still stressed? Here’s a big not-so-secret-secret. Remember your WHY. WHY are you choosing to do what you do? Are you working from home to have a flexible schedule for your children? Do you LOVE helping small businesses succeed? Are you passionate about creating and writing? Are you staying home with your kids while still contributing to the household income? Whatever your WHY is, keep it in your mind. It’s really all about perspective and gratefulness.
I know that I can get stressed out if a customer is sending boat loads of work, for example, however, I feel grateful each day that I have the flexibility to be with my kids, the opportunity to work with an amazing team and clients that are KILLING it, and the pleasure of working from anywhere I can find WIFI (in my pajamas).
You’ve got this boss babe. Deep breath.