I was recently asked “What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Any advice or strategies?”
Being the sole proprietor of a small on-line company is overwhelming! My biggest challenge is the brain fog that overtakes me when everything seems too much to handle. When I feel the fog descending, I can either face-plant onto the sofa or stare at my to-do list (to-do lists are essential).
I remember when I was first building my shop and Google barred me for “policy violations”. I spent days watching YouTube videos to try to figure it out. I finally hired someone to figure it out for me which made it possible to focus on things I am better at. Going through this type of tribulation is a learning boost. Now I have a better understanding of potential technical snags and how to avoid them.
The next phase of overwhelm was when I realized I needed to rebrand my shop and kick up the marketing. This was when I reached out for help with someone I had been following on Instagram. She helped me clarify my vision, mission, and slogan. Having a clear mission helps me walk through the fog and remember what drives me to create. And the slogan helps me encapsulate it all in a simple way “Curiosity created this.” This process took time and has been invaluable.
And then came the realization that the marketing I had outsourced was eating up my revenue and I had to scale back my expenses. This was where discipline and research helped with the overwhelm. Knowing that AI is beginning to infiltrate all aspects of business, I turned to products that were able to streamline and automate my marketing process. I use a tool where I can create email campaigns and schedule them in advance. I use a tool that helps me write small engaging pieces of copy for posts, and then I use a tool to schedule the posts so I can focus on other things. It took a little time to figure out but has saved me a ton of time in the long run. But I miss the camaraderie of working with actual people for these tasks.
There is so much out there in the realm of technology. Everything is moving so fast! So, I have been reaching out to colleagues and friends for in-person or virtual coffee meetings to share what we have been learning. It helps to feel less alone.
When I feel overwhelmed, I try as hard as I can to play with these new tools. Play has been essential for me to learn. The trick is to know what time works best to play, and to choose a time that doesn’t make you feel guilty about “not working”. My playtime has helped me generate a body of work separate from my business. This play-work has become a visual journal to whatever I am going through and has helped me alleviate stress. If the play doesn’t interfere with the business, it is an excellent thing to do.
To sum it up, to-do lists, asking for help, knowing your strengths, and playing are essential to overcome overwhelm. It will always be there, but there are tools to help.
Digital Images by Stacey Posnett