As lawyers say… Time is of the essence, so let’s jump right in:
Mistake #1: You forget to include your personal care and life in your schedule.
Yes, that means more than when and where you need to drive your kids after school! Things like reading, getting a massage, lunch with friends or even a 30 minute nap on the off day are vitally important to schedule.
The take-away: When you forget to set aside some regular good old “me time”, you find yourself in the situation where you give more energy than you harvest. This creates a growing deficiency which inevitably leads to burnout.
Mistake #2: You create an unrealistic schedule that goes against your nature. (i.e. if you don’t know it by now your true nature as a woman is called your Womanity)
Here are some tips on how to bring realistic expectations in a few very common areas. Warning: These will require practice and awareness or in other words: no pain, no gain. But once you do, the results can be life changing. Hang in there:
a) The fact is procrastination is *actually* very natural and a feature our brains have designed over a few millions of years to recharge its energy and process information unconsciously.
How to do that? Take breaks between main work sessions, allow yourself to daydream from time to time (and be ok with it… self-blame is counter productive at best), read for 15 minutes a few times a day or go for a walk around the block. Your brain needs it to remain productive on the long run. Avoiding it is just like ignoring the fact that white sugar destroys your arterie. You just can’t avoid it forever.
b) You want to do the right thing and be healthy, but it’s so hard to sustain shopping for and cooking your ten vegetables a day, lovingly prepared with the right protein type… as per your new favourite keto or paleo diet. I hear you, it gets too much, too quick.
Here’s the deal, you’ve got to be realistic and include meal planning and batch cooking in your schedule. And if you eat out, plan ahead what you’ll buy so you can choose *ahead* the right option for you. Your budget, energy levels and waist lines will be grateful you did.
c) About tasks size… Like every good mind reader, I’m going to show you how much I can get into your head “Sherlock Holmes” style… 😉
“So you’ve got this three months email series to write, and you plan to get it done in two hours. You’re motivated and dive into it. But somehow three days later, you’re still at it, frustrated, bumping on the content for email #7…”
Does that feel familiar? Have you ever completely under-scheduled a task that ended up taking significantly more time?
Yes? No? or maybe…
“You give yourself two months for the same task and let it drag week after week, opening your file, adding a couple of headlines one day, write a few lines another, and knowing that you still have six weeks to go… and now… You’re two weeks past your deadline and you have no idea how you couldn’t get this done on time. Puzzled you blame yourself with frustration and resentment for the task that still remains to get completed.”
How to step out this whirlpool of mismanagement of your time?
The first and most important step is to evaluate and measure how long it takes to complete certain tasks types (start with the ones you do on a regular basis – like following-up phone calls, support emails, invoicing, etc.).
The take-away: Unless you can set a realistic expectation for how long a task will take and then set that very time frame in your schedule; you will continue to feel behind and mostly un-focused on what must get done.
Mistake #3: You do not prioritise your tasks wisely.
Not all tasks have the same impact on your business, productivity, or motivation. Learn to identify and prioritise which tasks create less work or more growth for you on the long run.
These can take the shape of staff training, writing some marketing copy, setting up a system to leverage your work, or organising your tasks for better execution!
The take-away: You must know your destination to be able to make itinerary choices. Apply this street wisdom to your prioritisation and you will find yourself ahead of time!
Mistake #4: You commit to tasks that aren’t aligned with your goals.
So many things feel so important at first… but then don’t make much (if any?) difference once done and ticked off our lists. When you start working without a clear idea of what you wish to achieve by doing this specific work (some are more obvious than others of course), you can easily get caught in a rabbit hole that takes you miles away from where you meant to go.
This leads to self-blame, frustration and wave of demotivation.
The take-away: Be clear on your direction (see point 3.) and regularly check-in to make sure that everything you do is taking you where you want to go!
Mistake #5: You are not prepared for days away from home (or for days where you are stuck at home unable to do anything productive, i.e. sick child days).
Your business might take you away from home regularly, or maybe it’s your crazy social life… but most likely it will be that you’re just handling two full-time jobs: you run a business and you run a household. So as soon as the slightest event occurs from a staff member taking a sickie, to your child’s unmissable Easter egg parade, your schedule and planning goes straight out of the window.
You feel frustrated, behind, overwhelmed, and… have by now forgotten all about the weight and importance of your tasks. Back to square one all over again.
Maybe this comment will make some of you feminists out there (I do love feminists and non-feminists too… I like to keep my mind open to all opinions and world views!) feel like we’re back in the mid-50’s, but the reality is, women are still largely the main carers for our little ones. From school lunches to house cleaning and organising the school uniforms, we handle so much day in, day out.
The take-away: Planning for the days off, away or simply crashing on the couch is smart and realistic. It will happen sooner or later so keep your head out of the sand and have a plan ready.
Mistake #6: You are overcommitted with (way too many) tasks.
When you run a small business, beside doing or selling the thing that you’re awesome at; you also become overnight a financial manager, a team trainer, a researcher, a sales expert, an online marketer and website developer…
If there’s something to do and you just do it. But no one is expert at everything. You know it, and so do I.
But anyhow, you start bravely, work hard for weeks and months, that then turn into years… and after many burnouts and waves of very stressful and hugely busy times… The frustration overtakes you and you either close your business, end a relationship that didn’t get nurtured with regret or you just keep pushing on your way to your next burnout. Sound familiar?
The take-away: Define clearly early on what is and should remain within your list of tasks. Define also which tasks you’ll be outsourcing either to an online system or to a trained staff member.
Mistake #7: You believe that it’s better done if done by you.
You find it tough to find someone perform to your standards, so you often end up doing what must get done yourself to avoid too much trouble.
And as such, you’re everyone’s go-to person because you “just get it done”, right?
If you’ve seen the movie “Yes” man, you’re just that. And although it’s got its advantages (I mean Jim Carrey got to meet his dream girl, right?), it’s also the way to once again, burnout.
So learn to say “no”. Or at least “not now”, it’s gentler yet still very effective.
Start training your staff. And if you’re not at that stage yet, record your processes and start putting in place systems that will leverage your work.
The take-away: “No.” is a full sentence. “Not now” is a boundary setter. Train people to interact with you on your terms. And keep in mind your priorities, they are the only ones taking you to your goals, nothing else.