The one reason leading to stress, overwhelm and the eventual burnout

How you’re feeling…

Can you feel the tension in your neck, back, and legs? Is a headache throbbing in the background as you try to knock off the tasks on your to-do list? That’s your body telling you that you are stressed out.

Do you feel panic rising in your chest when you realize your to do list for the day, week and month is just too much for you? That’s you experiencing overwhelm.

Are you tired even with some sleep, anxious, forgetful, and having fainting spells? Are you feeling guilty whenever you take a break and trapped in a job you no longer love? That’s you burnt out.

I can imagine your to do list.

It spans pages.

As you tick off one, two others appear on it. And, ticking off one item no longer brings you relief or joy.

You hate administrative work and the job you got was not about the admin work. But, now all you feel you are doing is pushing the paper and emails through a clogged pipe.

The reason…

All of these feelings are due to one main reason. Yes, just one reason, not the multitude you imagine.

Spending too much time on the wrong tasks.

On tasks that don’t move your revenue bottom line.

Tasks that don’t attract new business.

Tasks that don’t grow your business.

Tasks that eat up your time and do nothing for you, your business or your customers.

Some of the tasks are necessary to manage.

But it always feel as though you are reacting to emergencies and putting out fires.

What to do about it…

What you need to do is to design a business that works for you and not run one by default.

A business by design helps you to focus on the most important tasks to move your business forward.

You create the business and your life by design.

It is not going to be easy.

But, when you design your business to suit the life you want, you live the life you want to live.

The elements of the design…

There are a few things you will need to do to get the design going.

What do you really want?

No, not the multi-billion dollar business most people dream of but,

What feelings do you want to feel at the end of the day?

What change do you want to create?

What relationships do you want to cherish?

What experiences do you want to have and with whom?

What dreams do you have?

Finally, what material things do you want?

Take a few days to think through these questions. Write them in your journal or open a new book for this discovery.

What is your business about?

After completing the previous section you will have a clear understanding of who you are, why you do what you do, and who and what matters most to you.

In this section, you will get a clearer idea of who you serve.

Your business may have one type of customer or many types.

Even if you work for someone else you will have some form of purpose or a business.

Take professors for instance.

In their day-to-day work or business, professors teach and do research. They also lead development in their universities and in their research areas. They wear a number of hats (roles) in their workplace. They answer to multiple people…their students (yes students are their customers), their unit heads, their administrators, and government.

Map out who and/or where you are supposed to provide value to.

If you are employed, get the job handbook or ask your boss to help you with this map. They may know of other stakeholders that you don’t see on a day-to-day basis.

After mapping out who your customers are, ask yourself if this job is what you see yourself doing for the next few years. Will you feel joy doing the same types of tasks a year or two later on? If not, then you need to make a plan to switch careers.

Commit to your business or switch its direction or change it completely.

List your revenue generating and customer service areas of focus

Once you are confident that you are in the business suitable for you and that brings you joy, write a list of your revenue generating and customer services areas to focus on.

If need be, get clarity on the foundation of your business. Read and watch videos on your market and industry. Talk to other people in your business. Go to industry meetings and keep current with the trends.

Do not shift the focus of your business unless there is a clear trend that it is going to suffer.

Remember, what worked for others may not work for you.

There are a number of variables that stop you from having similar success: differences in the lifestyles, personalities, strengths, passions, community and network, experience, and goals.

You and your business are not computers with predictive paths.

Place areas of focus into phases

There are some things you just cannot put the cart before the horse.

A business needs a clear target market.

You can’t sell a service or product unless you have identified this target market.

Professors have an easy time of this as target markets are often identified up front or by administrators and governments.

You need to place the areas of focus into the correct phases.

Learn one area of focus at a time. It is near impossible to learn market research, identifying services and products, offering a quality service or product, marketing the service or product, and collecting income all in one go.

Each phase may require learning new knowledge and skills. Focus on one phase at a time, learn and implement your new skills.

Create systems and processes

As you master the new skills, document the process and create a system to get the job done efficiently. When you have become efficient you can look to automating the processes.

Don’t think professors can create processes? Think again.

Document your writing process for each type of writing product – lesson plans, research, teaching reports, research reports, blogs, etc.

Develop templates for products that you create daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonally.

Develop work flow systems for getting your work done.

When these systems are solid, determine which processes you can hire out and train other people to do for you. For example, do you need to read every email that comes into your inbox? Are you interested in only certain types of emails that really require your attention? Then hire a virtual assistant.

Build your support system and network

Someone has accomplished what you want already. Speak with them and ask them for their guidance. Yes, that’s your unofficial mentor.

More often you will find that some closest to you will not understand how you want to design your life. Widen your network. Go to events and conferences related to your business and interact with people doing what you want to accomplish. You may have one off interactions or develop new connections and hopefully new friendships as you build trust with others.

Make time for success

Make the time to do the work. You get what you put in.

Start small first. Say, 30 minutes every other day. Get comfortable with this time input and when you are ready, increase it.

Hold yourself accountable

Only you can hold yourself accountable for doing the work. Or, you can join with others who have similar goals and hold each other accountable.

When you have to report to someone else you will make the effort to report on the one thing you needed to get done that week or month.

Choose someone who you can trust to give you appropriate advice and at times the tough love (not excessive) to get back on track.

The one thing you can do…

Once you have decided to continue with this business of yours, determine all your revenue generating activities.

Having this list in front your eyes every morning and evening is the best planning tool you can use to focus on the right things.

Then you can build systems and processes to get you to your goal.


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