In the age of digital and choice overload we often feel frustrated if our whole action list is not completed by the end of day or week. We are bombarded daily with articles, social media posts, digital ads etc.. on how to achieve financial freedom whilst doing yoga and running a calm and clutter free household! This can create a cycle of anxiety. Goals are set but are often unachievable in a certain time frame further increasing the workload and feeling of self doubt. There is no simple solution especially when working for yourself as you are always accountable and action is your business.
However can we use this motivation for success and multiple outlets of information to our advantage? We are all unique and adapt differently to various work patterns. The key is to finding your healthy balance and enjoying achievements however big or small.
Barbara Holtzeker runs a counselling service in Manchester and has been working in mental health for the past 45 years. She is a specialist in advising on coping techniques for clients who are overwhelmed or stressed in the workplace. Here are some tips she recommends for achieving a higher level of productivity and reducing stress.
1) Work with manageable goals in the short term
Set yourself realistic goals based on your amount of allocated work time and review them each week. Don’t be afraid to amend your goals and timetable for achieving them, especially if you at the point of burn out. If you set the bar too high at the beginning you run the risk of feeling constant disappointment. It is important to take a step back and highlight what you have achieved so far so you can focus on moving forward.
Creating a SMART strategy will help define your objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) Set yourself a specific goal in a time frame which can be measured, is definitely achievable and relevant to your business model. For example obtain a 10% email list growth within 2 months by deploying a lead generation ad campaign, measured by the cost per lead.
2) Have a long term but flexible business plan
Long term goals are established when devising a business plan. Start ups naturally are anxious to achieve them quickly. However it is not possible to account for every scenario once the business has launched. The numerous marketing channels available are great for brand exposure but also allows for an element of vulnerability. Having an open mindset and seeking help if necessary will help combat feelings of negativity when dealing with any glitches along the way.
3) Outsource if possible
If you are feeling overwhelmed with running the business are you able to invest in outsourcing to help with tasks such as admin or social media? This will then free up your time to concentrate on growing the business thus justifying the investment. There are plenty of freelancers who would be available on short term or long term contracts. Use your connections on Facebook, within Facebook groups, Instagram and LinkedIn to find reputable services. Recommends are always better than using the freelance marketplace websites.
4) Focus on the present
Focus on the task at the hand and try not to get distracted by longer term objectives or by comparing yourself to others, especially on social media. It is advisable to concentrate on one project at a time as multitasking can lead to feelings of overload. Enjoy a moment for yourself in the day and be proud of what you have achieved. Staying organised with a weekly planner will help with short term goal setting. I am using the BusyB diary and love the fact it is compact enough to carry around.
5) Schedule time for yourself
There is a fine balance between working hard and being over worked. Stress is a major factor in our overall physical and mental well being and can have a negative impact on mindset and energy levels. Downtime is therefore just as important as fulfilling a to do list. Make sure you carve out some time to practice self care and relaxation techniques. This is a whole separate blog post as there are so many great ways to pamper yourself! If possible include 2 – 3 hours of exercise in your schedule even it means stretching and Pilates at home via You Tube!
Also being mindful of your nutrition and preparing some meals in advance will improve concentration and focus in the day. I will be putting some recipes to the test for healthy weekly fridge lunch fillers and will keep you posted! Deliciously Ella, Hemsley and Hemsley and mindbodygreen are a great place for recipe research resource. Self care can include having your nails done, a trampolining session with the kids or grabbing a coffee with a friend, any activity which will clear your mind from work.
Meditation is a powerful technique for reducing stress and finding your inner balance. You can start with some breathing exercises before bed or finding a group meditation class in your area to learn the art properly. It is a skill to switch off completely!
6) We can be our own worst critics, take a step back to check situations in reality
Sometimes we can get so lost in a vast workload it causes us to be hypercritical of each individual task. This can hinder productivity as we are too concerned with the micro-detail and perfection. It is helpful to take a break and look back at work a few hours later with a clear head or ask a friend/family member to give constructive feedback.
Building a support network is important when working for yourself so you don’t feel so isolated working alone. Join a networking group face to face or online so you can connect with other entrepreneurs and ask for advice.
Barbara often tells client that “Perfectionists can be LESS productive because the intense focus on perfection can lead to procrastination (or missing deadlines entirely!) ”