Once upon time, there was this talented, fierce + amazing girl. She felt like it was time to act on those aspirations she had to start her own business.
She knew she was awesome + figured if she did her homework, hustled hard + put herself out there, other people would be able to see how awesome she was, too. Soon enough, she too would be posing in front of the Eiffel Tower with all the other 6-figure success stories carrying Louis Vuitton luggage sets.
And yet, the only bags this princess had were under her eyes + a serious case of “WTF am I doing here?”.
Here’s the good news, boss :: every success story has a chapter (or four!) on feeling overwhelmed. This means you’re on the right track!
The bad news :: overwhelm is a symptom that something you’re doing isn’t working. You need to identify what that is + the necessary changes to implement before moving forward.
But here’s more good news :: I happen to have a black-belt in kicking overwhelm to the curb. This post is dedicated to sharing that with you. #haYAH
You’re an amazing boss lady so Imma start this conversation like I do with all amazing boss ladies I work with…
“So what’s the plan here?”
Now it’s your turn to rhyme off your top 3 to 5 priorities + the strategy you have in place to see those through.
Wait, what was that? You don’t have a plan? Sooooo, that’s a problem!
Going about your day-to-day operations without a plan is the equivalent of running a marathon without a map or a route. You’re expending a whole lot of energy, exhausting yourself in the hopes that you’ll reach your finish line. Meanwhile, it’s unlikely that you’ll even reach your destination if you didn’t at least have some sense of established direction.
Newsflash :: Hustle isn’t enough. You need to get your shit together.
There are 4 keys areas within which most freelancers will be working. Either you will be working on ::
1) OFFERS – we’re talking about the actual thing(s) you sell, the genius you do, the brilliance people pay you for; or
2) MARKETING + PROMOTIONS – putting yourself out there to be seen + heard as an online authority in your field; or
3) GROWTH + BOTTOM LINE – getting your numbers up like your sales made, subscriber count, income reports; or
4) BRANDING + ONLINE PRESENCE – meaning your website, your social media, your overall image on the interwebs.
Having said that, there tends to be a lot of overlap between these key areas. If you don’t have a solid plan in place for where your priorities lie within each of these areas, overwhelm takes the opportunity to creep in.
NEED A TEMPLATE TO HELP YOU OUT WITH PLANNING THESE OUT?
Which brings us to our next source of self-sabotage…
YOU ARE NOT A CHARCUTERIE PLATE
What’s not to love about charcuteries plates? They have a lot going on with the pickled things + the exotic cheeses + the cured meats + those creamy patés with all the fancy crostinis + crackers + breads.
Not to mention how well they go with 1 or 2 glasses of wine (or maybe 3 or 4! because I don’t judge + unless you’re Jesus, neither should you) A charcuterie plate gives you all of the perfect things to choose from on a Thursday night catching up with your BFFs.
Meanwhile, this “choose your own adventure” approach does exactly the opposite to catch up on all your biz-related stuff Friday morning. Having a selection of things To-Do is bad because it means your focus is, well, not at all focused.
Your To Do list shouldn’t look like a diner menu. It’s called “prioritizing”.
When you have well-defined focus, your To Do list to follow. Every day, you should be doing work that aligns directly with your focus. Automate, outsource or re-prioritize everything else. (We’ll talk more about the latter options two later.)
How – exactly! – does this happen? Simple! Establish your 90-day plan + create your To Do list to line up side-by-side to the things you said were important to you.
Then ask yourself ::
- Are the things I have To Do today fall directly in line with my goals?
- Will I be able to say “I’ve made progress towards my goals!” after I’ve completed each of these action items?
- Am I dedicating time + energy to new ideas + passions that my future self should be responsible for seeing through?
- Can I look at my To Do list + easily identify which key areas these contribute to for me + my business?
- Do all of these tasks have to be done by me? Is any of this repetitive work that could be automated or outsourced?
The point of your To Do list is not to fill all of the hours in your day. It also isn’t about spreading yourself thin trying to get “all the things” done.
Your To Do list should be created from the point of view that 1) you see where you’re going + 2) you’re taking the steps to get you there. Anything that doesn’t bring you from point A to point B shouldn’t make the list.
ON WEDNESDAYS WE WEAR PINK
“But Lanie!”, you’re saying. “There’s a bunch of maintenance stuff I have to do. These emails won’t reply themselves.” True dat, boss!
Fashion-conscious “Plastics” know that Wednesdays are dedicated exclusively to pink attire – it takes the guesswork out of making a decision!
And you, my success-conscious boss, can dedicate your Wednesdays to maintenance mode for your business. Activities like catching up on emails or scheduling next week’s social content or whatever other things you have to do to sustain “business as usual”.
This is commonly referred to as “batching” or “time blocking”. The idea is that you’re putting all the gotta-do-it stuff into one time slot. Not only do you create better, more focused work, but you also pump the brakes on replying to that email on Tuesday to instead work on something else. You know that it’ll get handled on Wednesday + you can put it out of your brain for now.
I’m going to sound like a broken record when I say this (get used to it!) :: the PLAN you establish needs to account for not only the things that will move you forward but also the status quo/maintenance work. PLAN YOUR WORKLOAD ACCORDINGLY!
*INSERT SCRATCHED RECORD NOISE*
Ummm… hold up, boss. Before you start dedicating your limited time to this work, are you sure that work needs to be done BY YOU?
To figure this out, start by mapping out all of the things you have to do in your business to maintain the status quo.
If you’re at a loss, that outsourcing checklist I mentioned earlier is a great starting point to assess the areas that could be done by someone else.
Likewise, you may want to consider setting up your workload to be done on auto-pilot, like automating your client onboarding process.
Remember that just because it has to be done, doesn’t mean YOU have to be the one who does it. Chances are that if these are tasks that maintain your status quo, it is very likely that you can automate or outsource it. Dedicate your time to doing work that matters to your bottom line!
So what happens when, like, awwlllllllll your time is dedicated to just maintaining your operations.
As in :: after you’ve done the emails + the follow-ups + the quality control + “all the things” that keep your business running smoooooth as melty peanut butter… there’s no time to tackle the To Do list that moves you towards making progress on your goals.
Guess what time that is, boss? It’s time to get real!
Your most valuable resource isn’t money, it isn’t energy + it’s not even the 1st page of Google (as sweet as all those things are).
TIME is your most valuable resource, girl!
While you can make + create all those other things, your time will always be limited. As your workload grows, it is mega-important to have the RIGHT SYSTEMS + PROCESSES to be your holy-mother-savior on the daily.
“Systems” don’t sound sexy… til they strip away all the overwhelm keeping you busy AF! (And they do!)
Still dealing with the back-and-forth of contracts + invoices + other client onboarding things? There’s a system for that!
Find yourself answering the same old questions over + over again? There’s a way for you to, like, not do that anymore.
Are you still explaining to potential clients what goes into working with you? Automate that shiz, boss!
Need to manage your clients more efficiently? You totally can.
Because the feeling of overwhelm is a symptom, just like a case of the sniffles or putting on weight. It is an omen that something else is going on + you need to pay attention to get it under control.