This is a guest post by Danny Iny.
We all have our moments of feeling overwhelmed, snowed under, and buried in feelings of stress and dissatisfaction with our daily performance.
It’s normal and probably even a right of passage for entrepreneurs.
But there are ways to bust out of the rut and get back on track.
Danny shares his ideas below, and be sure to check out my take on this issue at Firepole Marketing: Entrepreneurial SOS- Finding Your Way Clear of the Weeds.
Some days just suck.
In fact, some weeks just suck. Every client needs a rush job, wedding planning is going crazy, and your computer breaks down, all at once.
Everything is crazy, and nothing gets done – it feels like you’re in the eye of a tornado, with everything around you spinning out of control.
Even when you’re having a day just like that (especially when you’re having a day like that!), you’ve got to push through it all, and dissolve that tornado.
“What if the baby is crying…”
The first step is to recognize that things have gotten a little crazy. Accept that reality, and recognize that you’re going to have to modify your plans a bit.
This might mean pushing deadlines, or canceling plans, or reorganizing priorities, but recognize that you can’t just push through it all by sheer force of will. Someone asked me this question, which was meant to be one of those “values demonstrating” tests:
“Imagine that you’re at home alone. The baby is crying, the phone is ringing, the laundry is outside and it’s starting to rain, someone is at the door, and you’ve got food on the fire that is going to burn. What do you do?”
This question is supposed to be insightful, because you can’t do everything, and each item is supposed to represent a different part of your life (can’t remember what, though).
It’s all about triage, which is what you do in an emergency room when too many people need attention – you sort them based on urgency to see who has to be dealt with first. Ideally, you do this in a way that leaves you the least to clean up later on.
If it’s going to be impossible to get it all done in time, then you need to triage. What needs to be done urgently, and what can wait a little while? How can you organize things so that as much as possible gets done with the least amount of negative impact, and the retention of your sanity?
(In case you’re wondering, I would let the call go to voicemail, turn off the stove, pick up the baby, get the door and tell whoever is there to wait five minutes while I bring the laundry inside, to be dealt with later.)
Why Don’t We Do This?
Okay, you’re probably thinking that this is interesting, but hardly revolutionary. I mean, when you’ve got too much on your plate you’ve got to shift things around, or maybe take something off your plate? Duh, no kidding!
Well, if this is so obvious, then here’s an equally obvious question: why don’t we do it? Why do we let ourselves tread water for so long before starting to dig our way out of the mud?
The answer is that when things crash around you, completely out of your control, it is disempowering. It feels like a message from the universe saying that “you may think you’ve got a handle on things, but really, you don’t!”
And when we’re feeling disempowered, it’s hard for us to act.
Which is why before you triage, and before you start reorganizing your priorities, you need to reclaim some of that power and control.
Start with the Dishes
I have a routine that I go through when I’m feeling like this: I wash the dishes, and take out the trash.
I might clear my desk, and if I have time, I empty my inbox, and sweep the floors. But at the very least, I wash the dishes and take out the trash. The shortest version of this takes about ten minutes.
I do this because there is something inherently empowering about taking a mess, and cleaning it up. In a very small way, it reasserts your control over your environment. Once I get that little bit of control back, I’m ready to sit down and make a plan for taking back control of the rest.
It’s a simple thing, really, but it works – for me, at least.
What about you? Do you have any rituals that you employ to take control back when the universe has wrested it away from you? Leave a comment and let me know…
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