The Business of Busy-ness
This is the busiest season of business I’ve experienced in my career to date.
Perhaps this is your busy season too, or you know of, or are anticipating another time, when everything happens all at once.
During those busy seasons it can feel like everything is going at 1,000,000 mph.
A ‘crazy busy’ time at work, or in life, need not derail you from your sanity (even if it feels like sometimes it will!).
I truly believe that even through the most challenging periods of commitments, you can maintain your high standards of work, look after your health, and still have fun.
Today I am sharing my top tips for focus and fun during your busy season.
I hope today’s post will help those of you who are also navigating a busy season, and that you will bookmark this blog post in case you need to refer to it in the future too.
How To Get Everything Done, To A High Standard, And Still Enjoy Your Life
#1 Cut Yourself Some Slack
Isn’t it amazing how often we can forget to recognise how much we have going on?!
I have spoken to countless friends and colleagues who give themselves such a hard time because they haven’t done ‘x’ or ‘y’ in a day.
Ironically those same people tend to be the ones I look at and think “You are doing so much right now! You are all kinds of amazing!”
Treat yourself with the same compassion and recognition you give to others.
If you’ve got a lot on your plate, recognise it and learn that you may have to be a little more flexible in certain areas of your life.
For me, I’ve said no to a lot of things (more about that in #5) and loosened the reigns on my blog posting schedule.
The Monday, Wednesday, Friday structure, which I like to work with, isn’t a good fit for my overall schedule right now.
I truly believe in the quality of everything you do.
As Jenna Kutcher shares in episode 29 of the Goal Digger podcast, “stressed work is never your best work”. And I agree!
It’s preferable do something beautifully, and give yourself the luxury of time to do so.
#2 Map Out Every Single One of Your Commitments
Now that you’ve decided to give yourself some slack, let’s look at what you’ve actually got to do.
By now we have assessed: you have a lot on your plate.
Do you know exactly how much?
One of the stumbling blocks we can come across during a busy period, is forgetting to be realistic about what we actually have on our plate.
Commitments are made up of work, and everything else in your life. This includes children, workouts, social commitments and anything else which you have allocated time to.
Get every single big and small thing on your plate, down on paper.
Try not to miss a single thing out.
#2.5 Create A Master Plan
This goes hand in hand with the point above, hence the #2.5 haha
This is the fun bit!
Do you love coloured pens and stationery?!
For all my fellow stationery geeks, now is your time to shine.
Let’s create a master plan of what you have going on, what you need to complete and when you schedule your down time.
And yep, you need to schedule down time in too.
“Yep, you need to schedule down time in too”
For every big commitment you take on, there will be multiple small tasks which need to be completed, to make that big commitment happen.
Break down a big task into smaller ones, and you begin to work through a manageable (and not nearly as scary!) to-do list.
Here’s an example:
If I asked you to organise a PR event for a small business, it may feel like a huge task.
But if I were to break it down into small tasks, you could handle them individually, no problem.
Big task = Organise a PR event = eek scary!
Small tasks = . . .
– Draw up a list of local journalists and bloggers
– Find a cool venue in the local area
– Identify a great caterer
– Get in contact with a florist
– Create a stunning invitation on Paperless Post
– Invite the people on your list
– Collect RSVPs
– Confirm the venue location, caterer and florist
– Buy a gorgeous dress and look amazing for the event . . .
Wow, you’re there!
“Small tasks feel manageable, hence why it’s so important to break down every big task into smaller ones along the way. Don’t freak yourself out with a huge goal. Focus on one step at a time.”
Whatever your preferred calendar form is, get cosy with it, and get writing down allll your tasks. Break down every big task into small steps.
Once you have your master plan in place, it’s time for step #3.
#3 Say No. A lot.
If you’re feeling ‘busy’, the likelihood is that you are at capacity.
That feeling of ‘busy-ness’ means that your diary is already full, and you have little down time.
Why add more to it?
If you are busy, appreciate your current position, and don’t commit to a single thing more.
When you make a commitment to something, you want to show up with your best self. There is no way you are going to do that if you are over-committing.
Especially when it comes to people you really want to work with or to see, you would be doing yourself an injustice to commit to them when you can’t dedicate focused time.
Make a note to get back to people later in the year, and explain to the people who get in touch why you need to do this. This relates to point #6 below.
Remember, you need days at your desk to actually complete the work you have to do.
You also need days where you totally rest and conserve your energy.
If you over-commit you are either going to end up burning out, or cancelling on people, and neither of those are going to contribute to a relaxing busy period.
Social commitments are the same. Rather than committing to big trips, or long-distance travel to see friends, try socialising with your local friendship group and catching up with others via phone, Skype or even cards! I love putting pen to paper and simply sending a note.
Good friends will always be there, and moreover they’ll understand if you’re currently going through a busy period. Make sure you stay in touch, but don’t overstretch yourself in terms of commitments.
“When you make a commitment to something, you want to show up with your best self. There is no way you are going to do that if you are over-committing.”
#4 Use The One Touch Technique And Fully Focus On Every Task
I wrote about the ‘one touch technique’ at length here. This is singularly the best piece of advice I have been given by a fellow business owner in terms of productivity.
Rather than divvying up your attention between tasks, zone in, get the work done, and move on to the next thing.
Not only does this eradicate wasted time around the fringes of your task, it also allows you to fully focus on what you are doing, therefore you are more likely to do a great job of it.
If you are busy, the last thing you need is wasted time.
You need to be more efficient and productive than ever. AKA, you need to be the superhero version of you!
Sounds exciting right?
“Focus in on each task you have to complete, do it, and move on. No time wasted.”
#5 Prioritise Your Health
If you exhaust yourself and neglect your health everything is going to become 100 x harder. The last thing you need is a stinking cold or killer hangover right now.
When you’re busy, it’s my advice to prioritise your health above everything else.
East nourishing food, get good sleep, laugh a lot, watch Netflix, exercise, book manicures . . . do anything which makes you feel like the healthiest, most relaxed and most energised version of you.
SHOP THE STYLE
#6 Manage Expectations
If you’re busy, there may be tasks which take you a little longer to getting round to doing.
Rather than crumbling under the pressure of work, consider updating people on your status, thus managing their expectations.
Jenna Kutcher (yes I love her!) created a brilliant podcast episode on this, all about setting expectations with clients.
If you can only get back to emails once a week, create an email auto-responder which shares this with the people writing to you.
As Jenna shared in the episode above, people tend to be disappointed or annoyed if you’ve set unrealistic expectations for them. Whereas if people know when they can expect to hear back from you, they’ll give you the grace you’ve asked for.
Similarly, give yourself breathing room with your deadlines. Don’t say you’ll be able to do something in a week if realistically it will take you two. Say two and a half, and then you can always surprise your client or colleague by getting it to them earlier.
If you manage people’s expectations, you alleviate yourself of the unnecessary stress to do with timelines.
“If you can only get back to emails once a week, create an email auto-responder which shares this with the people writing to you. If you manage people’s expectations, you alleviate yourself of the unnecessary stress to do with timelines.”
#7 Accept That There Will Be Long Nights And Early Mornings
Much is written about maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
Sometimes we are so strict with the ‘computer closed at ‘x’ time’ – type rules, that it’s more stressful than being a little flexible.
During a busy season at work, you will most likely have to work into the evenings and start your days earlier too.
It only makes sense that if you are taking on more, and not letting anything else go, that you will need to spend more time working.
Rather than fighting that fact, I’ve found it more peaceful to look forward to those extra working hours. And to make them as pleasurable as possible.
I love the quiet hours working in the morning when I can make a cup of delicious tea, light my favourite candle, wear my pyjamas and simply work away in quiet for a few hours.
In the evening I pour myself a glass of wine, grab my laptop and work on the sofa.
By making the environment of my extra work as pleasurable as possible, I actually really enjoy it. Jess Lively goes into a lot more detail about this in episode 121 of her podcast with Alisa Vitti.
“Sometimes we are so strict with the ‘computer closed at ‘x’ time’ – type rules, that it’s more stressful than being a little flexible.
During a busy season at work, you will most likely have to work into the evenings and start your days earlier too.”
#8 Book Something To Look Forward To
If you do one thing during your crazy busy period at work, please book yourself something to look forward to at the end of it all.
It’s not to say that you aren’t enjoying the busy season too, but it’s so nice to have a treat ahead of you. It also forces you to have a cut off point!
Without it you might find that one crazy period edges into another without any break in between.
Is there somewhere you’d love to get away to for a few days? Take the plunge and book it! It’ll incentivise you during some of those long working evenings!
#9 Lean On Others
During your busy season, it’s important to lean on other people to support you.
If you have a team at work, now is the time to delegate. Which tasks can you pass on to others, which you don’t need to be doing?
As an independent business owner I know that sometimes that team is literally a party of one. Perhaps it’s time, during your busy season, to look for help. Can you hire an intern for a few months? Reach out for a Virtual Assistant? Even hire a cleaner to take some of the pressure off of you at home.
As I mentioned in point #2, every commitment has to be accounted for. So if you need help at home, lean on others to help you with this too.
There’s no shame! You’ve got a lot on your plate, and now is most definitely the time to reach out for help.
“If you’re busy, it’s probably because you’re doing a badass job and you 100% deserve recognition for that.”
#10 Acknowledge Your Successes
HOORAY! Firstly, you’ve successfully read to the bottom of this blog post – so you can put that on your list 😉!
Secondly, if you’re busy, it’s probably because you’re doing a badass job and you 100% deserve recognition for that.
Next time you think you are failing at life (because we all unfairly periodically accuse ourselves of this!), take a notebook and pen and write down everything you have done, rather than everything you haven’t done.
Surprised by how much you’ve completed? It’s amazing how often we forget to take stock.
Keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge, a handbag you want to buy in your shopping cart, and at some point pull the trigger on both!
It’s so important to celebrate all of our milestones, and making it through a crazy time at work is most definitely worth celebrating! 🍸🍸🍸
“Keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge, a handbag you want to buy in your shopping cart, and at some point pull the trigger on both!”
#11 Remember To Have Fun!
My parting advice?
Don’t take anything too seriously! Work is work, and it doesn’t define your identity or life.
There is nothing in the working world so important or demanding that it should take away from your own personal fun!
This goes hand in hand with focusing on your health and wellbeing. You can bring joyful elements into your personal life, and at work too, even during ‘crazy busy’ times.
In fact often this is the exact time you need to focus more on having fun.
Take one of my former bosses for example:
In my life before blogging, when I worked in TV production, my producer was THE most fun! She really set the tone for everyone else having fun at work too. Those were also some of the longest days I’ve ever worked and yet I look back on them with such amazing memories.
Everyone on set was hilarious and hard-working.
The two are not mutually exclusive.
What’s Your Take?
I’d love to know your thoughts on navigating a busy season at work. What tips do you have for productivity and organisation? How do you find time to rest? What do you treat yourself with at the end of it all?
Love, Monica x
P.S. A big big thank you so every one who has listened to Let’s Discuss Podcast so far! Ella and I have been totally blown away by everyone’s support of the show. We are so happy to hear that the first episode has resonated with so many of you! Episode #2 is out next Tuesday, March 21st.
Bag: Monsoon (Old but Similar) | Belt: Next (Old)
Shoes: Jack Purcell | Earrings: New Look (Old but Similar)