Momma Told Me There’d Be Days Like This
I try to be strong. I work hard to put up a good game face front. I strive to be upbeat, positive, and fun-loving. Often I find myself being a little envious of other communication professionals who really appear to have it all together. Who have a profound answer for every issue they encounter. I want to be THAT guy.
But in reality, I’m just like anyone else. There are days—like today—where the circumstances make it appear that I am a big, fat failure in business, in design, in communication.
The workload has increased exponentially (a good thing). A few of my outsourced contractors have bailed on their assignments (or have dropped the ball completely). The cash flow has been reduced to a mere trickle. Bills are due, so where’s the money to pay ’em? Sleep has become optional for an extended period of time. All of these make up my “perfect storm.” If I’m not on guard, I’ll become a wild & crazy man curled up in a fetal position, rocking back & forth in the corner.
So what do we do when the circumstances get us bogged down & we end up taking potshots at ourselves? Well you could whine about it on a blog, but no one enjoys a whiner…
Take Control of What You CAN Control
No one can control the circumstances of our lives & business. But we CAN control the decisions we make daily. We CAN control how we respond to crappy days, crappy customers, or just plain old crap that just naturally comes to everyone at one time or another.
Go To Bed! (Psalm 127:2)
No. I don’t care how behind you are on that project. Turn off your monitor, put on some calming music, climb in your bed, and get some sleep! This isn’t an option either. Regardless of all the cares of the day, I find that when I deprive myself of much-needed rest I am emotionally compromised. I cannot make sound decisions, because I turn into an emotional basket-case without sleep. Every issue (and we all will have them) will always look 100 times bigger than they really are. Set a time for yourself to get in bed and commit to getting 6-8 hours of sleep each night.
Read about 11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep here if you don’t believe me (Psst. One benefit is creativity. Who’d have thought it?).
Plan Your Work! Work Your Plan! (Proverbs 21:5)
At the end of each work day, take some time (about 15-20 minutes) to assess what you accomplished. Look over your to-do list and plan out what all needs to be completed tomorrow. This process does not just apply to projects. It applies to replying to emails, time for administrative tasks, paying your bills, phone calls to be placed, potential sales, etc. I find when I take some time to look over what needs to be completed the next day, I am not so easily overwhelmed by the appearance of “so much to do.” I can rest easier. I can adapt better when things get crazy.
Recently I began using Wunderlist to tackle my daily planning & organization. I am able to share my to-do lists with clients via email, with other Wunderlist users, or with a Cloud app. Check it out! (BTW, do any of you use another app like this to organize yourself? If so, what is it? I’d love to see what you use, and it may probably help someone else in the sharing.)
Get Some Help! (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
I can’t do everything. Neither can you. I have to have help! Whether that’s outsourcing some projects to another designer, or hiring a CPA to help with your taxes—you must have help! This is an area with which I struggle on a daily basis. I’m always on the lookout for competent designers to help with my workload.
Last year I had to hire a CPA to help me get caught up on financial & tax matters. It was a difficult path, but it is now behind me. And I’m better for it. I also began partnering with other firms to increase the quality of service I provide my customers (this was an awesome move)! What are some ways you have sought out help? How do you go about finding competent people to hire? Where can the rest of us get the help we need?
Protect Your Work Day! (Proverbs 12:11)
This is something most of us could do better. Too often we are at the whims of the urgent things. We spend our time reacting instead being proactive. When I’m in production mode, I need to work on the projects that bring in the most money the fastest. Instead I’m distracted by TweetDeck, Facebook, Email, the phone, exhaustion from no sleep, or my own procrastination. Remove whatever distracts you from being the most productive (whenever that period of time happens to fall).
I’ve started (and honestly haven’t been very good at) only answering email at the first & last hour of each day. I’ll also assign specific times to work on projects and other times to be available to answer the phone. Otherwise I find that I’m on the phone the entire day and it’s 5 p.m. and still have 6-7 hours of production to get done. (Again, I’ve not been very faithful to these practices. Still working to perfect to protect my work day). How do you protect your work day? What has helped you?
Stop! (Psalm 46:10)
Stop looking at your past regrets. Stop worrying about tomorrow. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop beating yourself up. Stop & smell the Texas bluebonnets. Stop ignoring advice from wise counselors. Stop surrounding yourself with negative people. All they will do is bring you down. Stop working all the time, and do something you enjoy. Stop whining. Stop complaining about what you don’t have. Stop ranting on Facebook. It makes you look unprofessional. Just stop. Be still…
Start! (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Start working smarter. Start looking ahead & make sound plans. Start surrounding yourself with wise, caring, & positive counselors. Start being grateful for what you do have. Start being kind to others, even when you don’t feel like it. Start sleeping more! Start protecting your work time! Start getting help for yourself. You can’t do it all anyway. Start reading more. Those who don’t read have no advantage over those who can’t. Start becoming a life-long learner. Start pouring yourself into someone else’s life. Now, go get started!