This article originally appeared in the September 2018 Allee Creative newsletter. Want to get helpful information like this sent direct to your inbox? Contact us to be added our e-newsletter list!
I don’t always handle stress well, but over the years, I’ve developed some strategies for rolling with the punches when things don’t go exactly as planned (or, when good things happen in business but you’re still just trying to figure out how you can handle it all).
And I get it. There are so many days where it’s easier said than done, but I find it’s helpful to know that others have the same struggles–whether you’re running a business, heading up a department or in charge of a huge project.
Breathe. Grab a coffee. And remember the following:
- No is NOT a 4-letter word. Give it a rightful place in your vocabulary. Set boundaries and stick to them. For me, it has been staying off of email on the weekends and evenings. It comes as a surprise to many, but I do not have work email on my phone (on purpose!) And this year, I’ve gotten into the habit of checking my workload and calendar, and setting clear expectations with my team, clients and others in terms of when I can start work on new projects.
- You don’t need to compare yourself to others. In the marketing world, it’s what we know and what we hear from clients a lot, “We want to do X campaign like X company because it seemed to work really well for competitor X.” But guess what? Same is lame (thank you, Jay Baer). Following the leader is not the way that we build great companies (or departments or campaigns or organizations). If that’s what we’re doing, we’ll always be second at best. Do not be afraid to take a risk and do something completely out of the box. Stop spending so much time looking at what other people are doing and start spending that time thinking about what YOU can be doing that is different.
- You’re not saving lives. (Unless you are, and then huge kudos to the doctors/nurses/EMTs/military members who are reading this…you rock!) But for most of us, there are not many situations in our professional lives where things can’t wait. Sometimes, we put undue pressure on ourselves to move to the next big thing, to make that huge budget decision because a vendor is pressuring you with timelines, etc., etc. But at the end of the day, will anything truly fall a part if you give it time? I get it, it is HARD to be comfortable with that mentality, but it can help put situations into perspective. I find this is especially true with my kids. I’m raising 4 humans while running a business and at the end of the day, I cannot be made to feel guilty for wanting to hang out with those amazing children rather than spend another portion of my night cranking out work. Some days will be easier than others, but it’s OK to slow down. Allow yourself that.
- Write it down. I don’t take list-making lightly. I have one for home, one for work and a few software programs that help me along the way. A great free resource is Asana. We use that internally in the office and it’s a great way for me to take any kind of task that may come from a meeting, an email, etc. and transfer it right to a task in Asana. And, that helps me figure out the right way to utilize tip #1 (say no!) because I can see big-picture what I have to do each day.
- Crisis will happen. Get your network ready. Crisis means something different for everyone. This year, for me, it was figuring out financial solutions when we doubled in staff size in less than 1 year and purchased a new building for the agency. Add in new healthcare benefits and miscellaneous HR requests, forms and taxes, and I was swimming in numbers and paperwork that I didn’t understand. As someone who has a hard time asking for help, I knew I had to tap into my network of CPAs, financial advisors and (gulp!) reach out to a trusted banker for advice. Stubborn has no place in business. Trust your network. They are there for you. Most of the time, interactions with the network are virtual. Meeting apps like Zoom and Teams help with it. Recently I started to consider switching to Decisions for meetings to be more interactive with the network. Although physical interaction is the best, there are situations where virtual interaction becomes the only choice.
As my colleague Nicole Stephany tweeted yesterday, “Some days, not everything is going to get done.”
She’s 100% right.
As leaders in our respective industries, and as we all work to grow our careers, it’s just as important to take time to reflect on what truly matters and what the priorities are that will help you be as efficient and productive as possible.
I would love to hear your thoughts. What keeps you up at night? How have your grown or what tips can you share for keeping it all together?