A repost from an old blog of mine that still has a lot of valuable advice in it. I should follow my own advice! ;)
I am sitting here in my office, feeling only slightly less overwhelmed than I did yesterday. I feel scattered, with several things I want to study up on, emails I need to write, websites I need to work on, marketing I need to begin, a manual I need to complete – well, you get the picture.
Starting a new venture is exciting and fun, but a little scary, too. Time to dust off some tried and true coping strategies I have used over the years to stay organized and prioritized. Maybe some of these will help you.
- Create that To Do List: This really is the number one life saving tip of the day, simple as it sounds. Not only does it help you prioritize, it also “clears your head.” Write down every, single thing you can think of, from developing a marketing plan to watering the plants. For huge tasks, break them down into manageable steps. Then number them from most to least important.
- Act on the To Do List: While purging your mind and organizing all your items on paper is a great psychological boost, it’s only ink on paper until you actually start working it. Start with No. 1 and work your way down. You will not get everything done on day one, but even if you only get the top three items completed you will have made great progress. That’s the three most important things that needed attention now out of the way! The To Do List is a morphing thing, growing, shrinking and changing shape as your days progress. Tomorrow you’ll add new tasks, re-prioritize, then start marching right on down that list again. What a sense of accomplishment that gives at the end of the day!
- Bust that Procrastination Habit: Fear and old baggage and all kinds of nasty things can sabotage us, causing us to procrastinate. Feeling overwhelmed can also stop us from moving forward (that’s where the To Do List comes in handy). I used to be the Queen of Procrastination and only with a lot of diligence and hard work have I been able to overcome it. I still struggle with it at times, but I’ve come a long way. Some things that help me are:
- Reverse engineer your goals: Take stock of where you are now and where you want to be in a year, five years and ten years. Dream big and don’t worry about how you’re going to get there just yet. Then start breaking your goals down into sub-goals, then sub-sub-goals. Decide what you can begin working on TODAY and add it to your To Do List. Even the tiniest move forward on a long-term goal can be very inspiring. Write the outline of your book or sign up for that class you need TODAY.
- Don’t try to do it all at once. As they said on What About Bob? , “Baby steps. Baby steps.” This goes with No. 1 above. Keep your general focus on the end result, but your day-to-day focus on the incremental steps needed to achieve it. Treat it like a job and try to do at least one thing per day that takes you closer to your goal.
- Reward yourself: Aside from the great sense of accomplishment you will feel from advancing toward your dreams, an occasional treat to celebrate your progress will also provide a psychological boost. Go get an ice cream cone or spend a lazy afternoon with a book at your favorite coffee shop.
- Surround Yourself With Good people: There will always be nay sayers and jealous folks in your life who will try to keep dragging you back to where they are, but you don’t need to let them. Seek out the friends who make you feel good about yourself and who can offer good advice or even just act as sounding boards. Entrepreneurial people will be able to brainstorm with you, strong and positive people can be your pillars of strength when you are feeling overwhelmed. Likewise, you can offer support to them!
- Keep Balanced: A new venture is like a new lover; you want to spend all your time with it, to the exclusion of everything else. Force yourself to keep a reasonably balanced approach to everything. Make time for family and friends, your spiritual needs, recreation and renewal – even if you have to schedule them into your calendar or add them to your To Do List. This will help avert hurt feelings and stress on you. A balanced life is a far more rewarding one, don’t you agree?
- Be Gentle With Yourself: Sure, you may need to boot yourself in the butt now and then to get motivated. What I am talking about here, though, is to not beat yourself up if you fail to do what you expect yourself to do. We all occasionally fail at something, some of us more often than others. Be gentle with yourself and forgive yourself. Give yourself permission to get up, dust yourself off and try again.
I am sure there are many more ways people keep themselves organized and focused, but these are my basics. I’d be interested in hearing any ideas others come up with.
There now. I can scratch “Write Blog Entry” from my To Do List!