The Ultimate Guide to Running a Business With Seasonal Affective Disorder

The Ultimate Guide to Running a Business With Seasonal Affective Disorder - The Cafe Wordsmith

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Running a business with seasonal affective disorder is a challenge, and it’s something I’ve had to learn how to do over the last 5 years I’ve been in business.

I’ve had seasonal affective disorder for most of my life. 

When I was 5 years old, my family moved from Southern California to Northern Utah where winters are long and snowy, but I’m not a fan of the snow. 

(I know, the Greatest Snow on Earth and all I do is shovel it off my car.) 

From that age on, I remember crying in the winter for no reason. My grades tanked in the third term (and for me, that meant that I didn’t make the honor roll. I was an overachiever!). I ate more, I gained weight, and I associated winter with darkness and sadness. 

I’m now 31 years old and I’m only now starting to get a grip on winter after decades of feeling depressed, sluggish, and unhealthy for half the year.

I know I’m not the only one who has to balance business with seasonal affective disorder, but I’m going to show you what’s worked for me so your business doesn’t have to screech to a halt each winter! 

 

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder? 

First of all, what is SAD anyway?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is depression and lethargy that occurs seasonally, usually in the winter. There’s a reverse form when depression occurs in the summer, but most people with SAD feel it in the winter.

And if you have SAD or even winter blues (a less severe form of gloomy moods and lower energy that occurs in the winter), you probably know it. 

For me, I start feeling a dip in my mood and energy in late October that lasts until April. I’m so sensitive to weather and light changes that I even feel depressed after a few gloomy days in the summer! 

SAD can be debilitating. And when you’re freelancing or running another kind of business, SAD can make it even harder to stay disciplined and manage your schedule.

I’ve been a freelance writer for five years now, and I’ve learned a few tricks for keeping my mood up in the winter and staying productive (enough) to keep my business going, even when I’m moving at a snail’s pace. 

I know I’m not the only one who experiences this. In fact, it’s estimated that up to a sixth of people in northern climates experience SAD in some form.

If you’re a business owner dealing with SAD, I want to share my tips for running a business with seasonal affective disorder and staying productive and level-headed, even in the gloomiest parts of winter. 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Running a Business With Seasonal Affective Disorder - The Cafe Wordsmith

 

Disclaimer: This is just what has worked for me and other people I’ve talked to. It’s definitely not meant to be taken as medical advice. I’m no doctor. Talk to your doctor about some of these options if you think they might help you.

Also, this post does contain affiliate links. This means that if you click the link and buy something, I get a small payment at no extra cost to you. (Don’t worry, I only recommend products I use and that I’d recommend to my friends. Because that’s what you are!)

 

My top tips for running your Business with Seasonal Affective Disorder

 

Tip #1: Cover your mental health bases

I want to start with this one because it’s SO important. If you need medication to function, take it. Otherwise, these tips won’t do much good. 

For a while in my early twenties, I took medication to cope with winter. I think of medication as a step stool to get you to the level where you can start doing other things to help your mental health. They’re a tool. 

There’s a lot of stigma around mental health meds, but you’d take medicine for other ailments, right? If your heart or liver were malfunctioning, you’d get treatment. Why are brains different? 

Therapy is also amazing for rewiring your brain. I’m a homebody, so I’ve been using BetterHelp to get therapy online. It’s super easy. You fill out a questionnaire, they match you with a therapist, and you can meet through video chats and send as many messages to your therapist as you want. I love it and it’s been a GAME CHANGER for me. 

 

Tip #2: Get Some Exercise

I know, I know. When you can’t drag yourself out of bed and all you want is to sleep until Easter, exercise is the LAST thing you feel like doing. 

But it makes a world of difference. Honestly, I couldn’t maintain my business with seasonal affective disorder without this. 

It doesn’t even have to be intense or super work-outy. It just has to be SOMETHING. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes of walking. (Another tip: Get outside if you can.)

In the winter, I like to go for walks and do yoga, with a few more intense workouts like PiYo thrown in if I can handle it. 

I currently subscribe to Glo for yoga and I LOVE it. You can also find tons of free yoga routines on Youtube. 

 

Tip #3: Light and vitamin D

This one is HUGE. The shorter days and dimmer light in winter is one of the main contributing factors to SAD. We need sunlight to create vitamin D, which contributes to our mood. When there’s less light, we get less vitamin D. Womp womp. 

Vitamin D supplementation is a good idea, but it’s also important to get some actual light.

When the sun comes out in the winter, I’ll drop everything to go outside for a few minutes, even if I just bring the garbage cans in or get the mail. If I feel up to it, I’ll walk around the block. 

I also use a light box on REALLY gloomy days, and I’ve noticed it helps. 

Finally, I have a wake-up light alarm clock that helps me get up in the morning because waking up in the dark SUCKS.

The Ultimate Guide to Running a Business With Seasonal Affective Disorder - The Cafe Wordsmith

This thing is a life saver on dark mornings!

 

Tip #4: Acceptance

Two or three years ago, I decided to see what would happen if I made peace with the fact that winter is a lower-energy time for me, and something amazing happened.

When I stopped fighting it, beating myself up, or feeling guilty about my lower energy levels, almost all of the depression and anxiety evaporated. 

No more midday gloomies or that horrible feeling of dread on dark winter evenings. No more unexplained crying spells. Way less morning anxiety. Fewer sugar cravings. (I know, I couldn’t believe it either.)

After all, nature takes a break in the winter. Plants don’t grow. Some animals hibernate. So why not us?

We humans often forget that we’re animals too. We’re part of nature, and nature is designed to operate in cycles, with time of production and times of fallow.

And the fallow times are just as long as the productive times, if not longer.

This is tricky because our culture is NOT set up to support this. In western civilization, we want to go go go all the time and never stop producing, but that’s just not how we’re designed.

It’s not that we CAN’T be productive in the winter (or rest in the summer), it’s just that we generally slow down at certain times of the year. 

I know it’s hard, but I challenge you to accept that you’re just going to get less done in the winter. 

You have less energy. You move slower. You think slower. No matter how hard you try to work as hard as you can in the summer, you just can’t.

I sure can’t. My body and mind simply WILL NOT. 

And fighting that will just makes you feel even less productive and more depressed. 

 

Tip #5: Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize

When you know you have less energy to work with, you MUST learn to prioritize.

Managing priorities is CRUCIAL for successfully running a business with seasonal affective disorder.

And you might even realize that when you actually focus and do the most important things instead of the 3,586 other things that don’t make a difference, your business may not actually slow down. In fact, it might GROW!

Kate Northrup’s book, Do Less is an amazing resource for learning to prioritize and plan your tasks and life around your energy cycles. I highly recommend it for business owners, moms, and humans in general. 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Running a Business With Seasonal Affective Disorder - The Cafe Wordsmith

 

For me, I usually set my 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) to do every day. I just put a star by them when I write down my to-do list, and I make sure to do those tasks first thing. 

So if I don’t get anything else done that day (which sometimes happens), at least I did the most important stuff and I can feel accomplished.

And you know what? A lot of that other stuff might not need to get done. Those 3 tasks will create more momentum than all the other tiny things you think you have to do. 

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? This rule states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts, so focus on that 20% to maximize your limited energy.

 

Tip #6: Organization and automation

This is good advice for any time of year, but especially during the winter: the more you can streamline and automate your business, the better. 

Automate as many tasks as you can. Schedule social media content, send automated emails, and automate recurring invoices. 

Organize your cloud storage, email, and computer files in the fall and summer before the winter gloomies hit.

Hire a VA or other contractor to help with business tasks you don’t want to do or don’t have energy for in the winter. 

Get this in place BEFORE winter hits, because you won’t be motivated to do it in the middle of December. Again, planning ahead is KEY. 

 

Tip #7: Plan around your energy cycles 

It took me forever to figure this one out, which is silly because I KNOW winter is coming. 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Running a Business With Seasonal Affective Disorder - The Cafe Wordsmith

(I don’t even watch GoT, but this speaks to me)

 

It’s simple, but it works. Do things when you have the energy to do them.

Simple, right?

You can plan ahead in tons of different ways: 

  • Plan your big launch for summer instead of winter.
  • If you need to work less in the winter, save more money in the summer to make this financially feasible (take a hint from the squirrels and store for winter!).
  • Make a bunch of freezer meals in the fall or on a sunny winter day so you have something easy and nutritious to keep you going when you feel like a slug. 
  • Maybe this means focusing on reading and educating and writing projects in the winter. Leave marketing, speaking engagements, and networking for when you’re jazzed up with yummy summer energy. 

Those are just a few examples! This takes some practice, but soon you’ll get a grip on your energy cycles and when you’re best able to do which tasks. (Do Less is great for this too!)

 

Tip #8: Appreciate Winter on its Own Terms

Winter can be a beautiful time. Learning to appreciate it can do wonders for your mood.

Sometimes a pink winter sky, naked trees, and snow can be just as beautiful as flowers and leafy trees. 

Cozying up by the fire with a good book and mug of tea can be just as fun and fulfilling as a sunny day at the pool or an outdoor summer festival. 

Try these tips to learn to appreciate winter, even if you don’t LOVE it: 

Observe nature. 

I used to believe that almost all my local birds migrated in the winter, but I actually learned that’s not true at all.

In fact, some birds like raptors actually winter here in Utah! Robins, chickadees, magpies, goldfinches, jays, and finches stay here for the winter, and some birds like goldfinches and house finches even develop more vibrant plumage in the winter. (Your eyes might have glazed over just now, but watching birds did SO much to reform my idea that winter is a cold, dead time.) 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Running a Business With Seasonal Affective Disorder - The Cafe Wordsmith

 

Sunsets are also STUNNING in the winter. Completely different from the rest of the year. Get out one of these evenings with a cup of tea and enjoy a frosty pink and blue sunset. You’ll never look at winter the same way.

Enjoy the coziness. 

I love the heat and sunshine of summer, but there’s just something wonderful about curling up in a blanket nest with a cup of tea and a fat book. Now is the time to enjoy ALL the hot tea, coffee, cocoa, chai lattes, and bone broth. Take hot baths. Catch up on your reading or Netflix. Cuddle with your significant other. Get yourself a cute sweater. 

Enjoy winter sports

My favorite winter sport is binge reading, and I enjoy it very much. But if you’re into skiing or snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice skating, or anything else like that, enjoy it while winter lasts! 

 

Growing your business with seasonal affective disorder Doesn’t Have to Suck

 

Winter is still the most challenging time of year for me mood and energy-wise, but thanks to these tips it’s no longer a slog.

Running a business with seasonal affective disorder is a lot easier than it used to be. I don’t dread winter like I used to and I get so much more done. (I actually launched an ebook this January!) 

Here are a few more random tips to hold you over until spring: 

  • Stay warm. I keep an electric blanket in my office and another by my couch, and I’m a big fan of dressing in layers. 
  • Music. On those dark winter evenings when I just can’t bring myself to be productive or even read, I just lay on the floor with my headphones on and listen to music. (I really enjoy chillhop lately.)
  • Eat plenty of healthy fats and proteins. It’s tempting to load up on carbs, but fats and proteins are far more effective at stabilizing your blood sugar, which can really boost your mood and keep your energy steady. A good fish oil supplement helps too. 
  • Houseplants bring a little nature and greenery inside. Sometimes I’ll buy a $5 bouquet of sunflowers for an extra pop of sunny yellow to my kitchen.
  • Make a list of things you actually like about winter, even if it’s just cute sweaters and blanket nests on the couch. 

Your business doesn’t have to come to a standstill in the winter. With a few tricks and strategies, you might actually start to like winter! (Even just a little bit.)

 

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The Writing Mistake That’s Slowing You Down

THE WRITING MISTAKE THAT'S SLOWING YOU DOWN

I’ve got a super juicy writing tip for you today.

Juicy. I kinda hate that word, but that’s an interesting adjective I don’t use very often, and sometimes it’s good to branch out, ya know?

Anyway, it’s a simple tip that will help you write soooo much faster. It’s not always easy, because it requires you to fight a very natural impulse.

Let’s back up for a second:

One of the biggest complaints I hear from entrepreneurs about writing blog content is that it takes forever. They might spend hours drafting a single post. They’ve got other stuff to do and no everyone likes writing. I get it.

When I ask about their writing process and what slows them down, they usually say something like “I’m just such a perfectionist. I have to rewrite every sentence 8 times, then I’ll delete half the post and start over, and before I know it, a day’s gone and I have 3 paragraphs.”

And here’s what I tell them: Nothing will slow down your writing more than editing as you go.

This goes for any type of writing, not just blogging.

The other day, I saw an Instagram story from one of my favorite entrepreneurs and self-made millionaires who was working on a book, and she said “It takes me SO LONG to write a book because I have to rewrite each sentence a dozen times before I’m satisfied with it.”

And I was like “No, no, nooooooo.”

If you’re of the “I can write, but it takes me FOREVER” types, listen up.

DO NOT self-edit while you’re drafting. Just don’t. Pretty please.

Back when I was tutoring high school English students full-time, I told them all the same thing.

The drafting phase is your chance to get your thoughts out, judgement-free. Drafts are supposed to suck. You’re just dumping clay on a table so you can sculpt it into a beautiful piece later, but you have to start with raw material. Don’t interrupt that flow.

Trust me, drafting without judgement is powerful stuff. Just write your thoughts without editing and clean them up later. (Or send to a content writer/editor to clean up.)

 

How to Make This Work for YOUR Business

 

I have one client who hates grammar and spelling, but she actually writes well and her voice comes through strongly in her words.

She sets a timer for about ten minutes, types a bunch of stuff on a topic as fast as she can, then sends me her messy notes. I take care of the spelling, grammar, and then organize and fill in the gaps in her thoughts. Super simple.

And she used to spend hours on a single draft.

Yes, there are people out there who can do that for you. (If this sounds like a blogging match made in heaven, here’s how I can help!)

 

If blogging usually takes your forever, here’s a challenge.

 

I double dog dare you to set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes and just write. It’s okay if it sucks. Just think of a topic you want to write about, set the timer, and go. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, organization, or typos.

You are unauthorized to edit or change a thing until that timer goes off.

You might be surprised with how much you can write in a short amount of time!

You can also make an outline if organizing your thoughts takes too long.

After that, walk away, do something else, maybe even leave that writing to simmer overnight before you go back and edit. Then, try moving things around, fill in some gaps in your thoughts, cut out the unnecessary stuff, and fix the spelling and grammar.

This process will save you a ton of time. I promise.

Speed comes with repetition. I can chug out a 500 word blog post in 15 minutes if it’s a topic I’m familiar with, but I’ve had LOTS of practice. (Full disclosure: I drafted this post in eleven and a half minutes . Yes, I timed myself.)

You can also outsource the bulk of your writing and just come up with topics and outlines. If you like to talk but don’t want to do videos, some content writers will have a conversation with you over the phone or web chat and turn that into a post for you.

Whether you think blogging is dead or if you want to do it but just have obstacles, you need to publish content regularly.

Your blog is a great place to do it because you own the platform, and it makes it very easy to grow your list and get people into your sales funnel because you’re already on your site.

So what are you waiting for? What are your biggest obstacles to blogging?

Want to speed up your blogging process even more? Get your free checklist so you’ll have a list of things every blog posts need to turn readers into customers.

 

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Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Business?

Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Business_

Perfectionism is a dirty word in the personal development world, and with good reason.

Perfectionism, or the notion that we must be perfect and do things perfectly or it’s not worth doing at all, is poisonous.

It stops us from starting projects, finishing projects, trying new things, or putting our stuff out into the world because we think it’s not good enough.

Most of us know about the dangers of perfectionism and we’ve learned to recognize it in ourselves. But…have we conquered it? Or does it still sneak in where we least expect it?

When I was a creativity coach, I worked with this a lot. From my own observations and anecdotal evidence, perfectionism is the #1 killer of creativity and new ideas.

A lot of us are trying to rise above this impulse and remind ourselves that it’s okay to do things imperfectly.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best and strive for excellence, of course, but most of us don’t have a problem with that. We tend to swing to the other end of the spectrum. Perfectionism is a problem when it prevents us from trying and doing.

It’s okay to be a beginner. It’s okay to suck, because that’s how you learn.

This mindset is Level 1 of perfectionism rehab.

 

How I realized I was still stuck in perfectionism, and why you probably are too.

 

For years, I thought I’d recovered from perfectionism, and I was even helping others do the same.

I learned to talk back to the voices that told me my work wasn’t good enough or that everything I made had to be perfect, which was super helpful for my art and writing.

I started putting things out into the world. I experimented with my art style. I started a new business. I published a novel.

I thought I was fully recovered until I listened to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Unf*ck Your Brain.

If you haven’t listened to Kara and her amazingness, you should. Go subscribe right now. I’ll wait.

Anywho, she did an episode on perfectionism and dropped this bomb: “Part of perfectionism is making a perfect plan and then beating ourselves up when we can’t follow it.”

(I’m paraphrasing a little, but that was the gist of it.)

Talk about a wakeup call.

I thought I was cool with perfectionism, but then I realized there’s another layer.

Perfectionism isn’t just refusing to try or release something if it can’t be perfect. It’s also wishing you could be perfect and feeling bad when you’re not.

I’m the queen of making perfect plans and then feeling horrible when I can’t do them.

Those outlandish goals don’t seem outlandish at the time because I should be able to do 30 things per day, right?

Sound familiar? Let’s see if you’re still stuck in perfectionism.

 

Signs You’re Still Stuck in Perfectionism

 

  • You still wish you could be perfect.
  • You compare yourself to others who look like they’ve got it together.
  • You make ambitious plans you can’t stick to because there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
  • You set huge goals and feel horrible when you don’t quite reach them.
  • You beat yourself up for every little mistake.
  • It takes you hours to write anything because you can’t stop self-editing as you write. (I see this in my clients a LOT.)
  • It takes you forever to create and launch anything because you’re stuck in endless revisions
  • You feel exhausted, run down, and like you’re always failing

Are you nodding your head “yes?” Then you’ve got another layer of perfectionism to work though.

 

How to get out of the perfectionism trap

 

I’ll be totally honest: I’m still figuring this out myself. But here’s what’s helped me so far.

 

Plan for wiggle room.

Your plans won’t go perfectly. They just won’t. Expect that things will come up, that some things will take longer than you originally planned, that you’ll get ideas along the way, and don’t feel bad when progress doesn’t look perfectly linear.

By all means, set due dates for tasks, get an accountability partner, and do whatever it takes to stay on track, but don’t harangue yourself for little slips here and there. Just readjust and move on.

 

Think “possibilities” rather than to-dos.

I tend to overload my to-do list with WAY more tasks than any human can accomplish in a day. Instead, I’ve been trying to see those items as POSSIBILITIES rather than things that HAVE to get done.

Of course, there are some items that need to get done that day, so I’ll prioritize those.

But the other things? Those would be nice, but I won’t feel bad if I don’t clean the bathrooms today or do that extra abs workout, or if I only draft 2 articles instead of 4.

Give yourself a break.

 

Play with your goal setting practices.

Maybe have a minimum goal and a “Wow, that would be so freaking awesome if I did that!” goal. Set a goal that’s a stretch, but not too far out of your comfort zone. Look at how far you went and how much you grew, even if you didn’t meet your goal.

I didn’t quite meet my January income goal. I’d made a plan to reach that goal. As I acted on it, though, I realized that my plan required me to work way more hours than I had the capacity for.

I realized I had to make some adjustments to my business that wouldn’t pay off in time for me to make my goal, but that’s okay because I learned something.

I felt bad at first, but it still ended up being a good month. So I felt good about it, celebrated it, and moved onto the next thing.

 

Don’t self-edit while you’re creating

This one just KILLS me.

Many of my blogging clients struggle with perfectionism in their writing, which is why they hire me to help with their content. Before working with me, a lot of them were spending hours on a single blog post, even the draft. (Drafts are supposed to be imperfect, btw).

Drafting goes very quickly for me because I’m not concerned about it being perfect or even good while I’m just getting my thoughts down. I’ve overcome the lower barriers of perfectionism.

I drafted this article in about twenty minutes. Did it suck? Yes. Did I edit it and make it better? Also yes.

Whether you’re writing blog posts, creating video content, or just brainstorming, don’t judge or edit your ideas as they come out. You can always fix and edit later.

Perfectionism is sneaky, and it can mess up your business and your sanity.

Give yourself a break. Notice where you’re still getting stuck, and practice a mindset of flexibility.

It might save your business!

 

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Why Rest Should Be Part Of Your Business

Why Rest Should Be Part Of Your Business - The Cafe Wordsmith

I’m going to switch gears for a minute and take a break from the usual posts about blogging and productivity tasks. Why? Because I need a break.

Guess who else probably needs a break? You!

We entrepreneurs are a busy bunch, whether we’re busy with our own business stuff or with client work, and too often we forget that we are actual human beings with actual needs, including the need for rest.

We resist it. We keep going, keep growing, keep hustling, keep pushing through tiredness and brain fog. Eventually, we burn out. Our bodies go “HEY, REMEMBER ME?” and force us to stop. We get sick. Our brains crash so hard that we can’t crank out even one more blog post, coaching session, interview, email, or social media update.

That’s what happens when we don’t rest. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been through the hustle/burnout/rest cycle many times, and I’m finally starting to wise up and realize that I can avoid that whole burnout part by taking breaks from the hustle.

 

Why We Need Rest

If you don’t rest, you will burn out. The longer you try to push through your tiredness, the longer and more severe that period of burnout will be, and the more productivity you will lose.

Growing a business and learning to be a more awesome entrepreneur is like building a muscle.

Think about working out. If you want to make some serious gains, you work out, lift your weights, then you nourish those muscles by eating, then you rest. You don’t actually grow while you’re pushing and working out. You grow while you’re resting, because those muscle fibers need to heal.

When you’re growing in business, you need downtime to digest everything you’re learning so you can more effectively implement it. You need space and quiet time away from your computer so you can come up with new ideas and gain new insight into your business (and other areas of your life). You need to rest so you actually have the juice to work on your business. Trust me, you will be so much more effective when you’re well-rested, well-nourished, and happy than you will be when you’re sleep-deprived, grumpy, and running on coffee and Funyuns.

You need to eat well, sleep, go outside, read a (non-business) book, be creative, spend time with loved ones, laugh, watch a movie, play with your dog, watch the sunset, sleep in, play a game, whatever recharges you. It’s part of your job to keep your mind and body in tip-top shape so you can be the effective in your business.

Also, don’t put off rest thinking that you’ll get to slow down “when”; when this launch is over, when you’ve hit your income goal, when you’ve finished your book, when you finish this client project. Trust me, “when” never comes, because something else will always pop up and demand your attention. Rest when you need to. Rest as you go along, and you will be so much more inspired and clear-headed and ready to tackle your business tasks in half the time.

 

Time to Rest

In my life, rest means taking it easy during the holiday season. This is a slow month for me, and I’m okay with that this year. I’m okay with spending a little less time working and a little more time reading, working on my own writing projects, hanging out with my family, or sleeping in a little later. Instead of doing a butt-kicking workout every day, I’m doing a lot more yoga. I’m holding off on new offers and most marketing stuff until January, because this has been a crazy year and I just need to rest.

For you, resting might mean logging off an hour early for a week or two, or logging on a little later. Maybe you rely on your team to pick up the slack so you can take a breather and get clear on your direction for the new year. Maybe rest for you looks like building up passive income or business savings throughout the year so you can take the whole month off. Maybe you need a vacation.

Whatever rest means for you right now, I encourage you to give yourself some space to slow down, especially if you live in the northern hemisphere where we’re experiencing the darkest month of the year and our bodies naturally want to slow down. We weren’t made to be productive all the time. Nature has seasons, and so do we.

Rest is crucial for growth, and I’m embracing it this holiday season.

 

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How Successful People Find More Time

How Successful People Find More Time - The Cafe Wordsmith

It might seem obvious, but I was shocked when it actually dawned on me that all these super productive and successful people I looked up to had no more time in their days than I did.

I mean, duh, right?

For some reason, it just hadn’t occurred to me that they had the exact same 24 hours as everyone else. So how on earth were these people getting so much more done? How do people build successful businesses, complete massive creative projects and still have a life?

Then I realized this: The people who are kicking butt in their lives and businesses aren’t wasting time on stuff they don’t actually have to do.

The issue isn’t a lack of time; the issue is that too many of us are doing stuff that isn’t moving us forward.

Successful people ruthlessly audit their time and make adjustments when needed. They know how to get things done and what’s important to them.

 

How successful people find more time (and how you can too!)

 

They prioritize

They do the important stuff first. They figure out what’s important and what’s not, and they organize their lives around it.

Try it: What three things NEED to get done today? What would improve your life and move your business forward? Make those your priorities for the day, and finish those before you do anything else.

 

They eliminate

If it’s not important and doesn’t actually have to get done, they don’t sweat it. I mean, it’s okay if they bring chips and store bought hummus to a potluck instead of spending hours on a homemade appetizer. It’s okay if they decide to quit Twitter because they hate it and it’s not bringing in much traffic anyway.

Try it: What’s one thing you’re spending time on that isn’t yielding results? Is it a social media platform, a commitment, a marketing technique, or some tiny little timesuck that just isn’t pulling its weight? Find it and eliminate it. You have better things to do.

 

They don’t insist on perfection.

There’s a big difference between having high standards and being a perfectionist. Perfectionism wastes time, because you get caught in the tiny details that don’t really matter while missing the stuff that does matter. Successful people don’t endlessly edit and revise their awesome ecourse to avoid releasing it. They meet their deadlines.

Try it: Do you have a project that isn’t moving forward because you can’t stop messing with it? A blog post that you haven’t published because it isn’t perfect? Let go of perfectionism today and put it out there. Make sure it’s free of errors, sure, but don’t worry if it isn’t the next Canterbury Tales. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be awesome. 

 

They say NO.

We all have requests and commitments flying at us from all directions, but people who know what’s important to them know how to say “no” to anything that doesn’t feel right to them or that they simply don’t have time for. I get it, it might feel selfish to turn someone down for something, but remember this: your time is best spent on doing what you do best, on sharing your gifts with the world.

Try it: Say no to something today. Say no to that interview that you know won’t grow your business. Don’t volunteer to drive carpool next week when you really don’t have time. It’s really okay.

 

They delegate.

The hire someone to clean their house so they don’t have to. They hire help in their business to do the tasks they don’t actually have to do, and this frees them to do the stuff only they can do.

Try it: What do you need to outsource in your life or business? Is it cleaning? Blogging? Sending emails? Managing your social media?

Seriously, hiring a VA is one of the best things you can do for your business, and I’m not just saying that because I am one. I’ve seen businesses go from struggling to booming once they hired a team. The more you can take off your own plate, the more time you’ll free up to do the stuff that will actually grow your business!

 

Ready to end the stress and take back your time? Check out my services here.

I have some availability for a new client or two and I’d love to talk to you! If you’re drowning under the weight of your business and need someone to help you get organized and publishing content regularly, hit me up!

Remember, successful people are just people. If they can do it, so can you!

 

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The One Productivity Tool I Can’t Live Without

The One Productivity Tool I Can’t Live Without - The Cafe Wordsmith

 

Everyone has their favorite productivity tools and techniques. Some people are into apps, fancy planners, or workflow programs.

All those things are awesome and I definitely use them, but do you really want to know the one tool that helps me buckle down and get things done?

The humble timer.

And no, that’s not an app called The Humble Timer. I mean the timer on my phone. Or an egg timer. Or the kitchen timer on my microwave.

It might sound too easy, but trust me, when that timer is running, my brain focuses like a laser and blasts through tasks like you wouldn’t believe.

 

How This Productivity Tool Helps Me Get Things Done

Think about it:

You’ve probably noticed that work expands to fill the time allotted for it. If you give yourself a week to do a project, it will take you a week. If you give yourself a day to finish, it will take a day.

It’s crazy how this happens. When we have more time, we find ourselves waffling around, playing with Slinkies at our desks, checking Facebook or email when we should be working, and doing a lot more messing around than if we’d given ourselves a tight deadline.

This is how the timer works for me.

If I have a task to do (like batch writing blog posts), I’ll set my timer for an hour or two and buckle down. I know that when that timer goes off, I’ll have to stop and move onto something else, so I have no choice but to focus and bust out those blog posts like there’s no tomorrow. So I do.

I use a timer for writing, housework, business tasks, you name it. And you better believe I have a timer running right this second while I’m writing this post!

The timer also helps me with hourly client work. Instead of starting my day with a to-do list for each client, I’ll chunk out my day into hours. I’ll set my timer for an hour or so to work on one client’s tasks before moving onto another. When I only have an hour, I immediately prioritize and get tasks done that need to happen that day.

This also helps me manage my client hours to make sure I get them all done during the month (because it’s not fun to end up with a pile of unfinished hours at the end of the month.)

 

Try it!

Try switching from a to-do list mindset to a time-based mindset. Keep your tasks in one place (like Teamwork or Asana), set your timer, and get to work. You’ll be amazed by how much you can do!

Looking for more ways to streamline your business? Grab my free blog post checklist to make sure your posts are scannable, engaging, and converting!

 

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How To Stay Healthy (And Sane) As An Entrepreneur

How to Stay Healthy and Sane as an Entrepreneur - The Cafe Wordsmith

Entrepreneurship is an amazing journey. There’s nothing more satisfying than building a business from nothing, setting your own schedule, starting each day with the question “Should I wear pants today?” and answering with a resounding “nope!”

Entrepreneurship can also be one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do. You might be your own boss, but there’s no one walking into your office at 10 pm telling you to go home and take a shower. You are the CEO, the marketing director, head of the creative department, the IT crew, the customer service hotline, and the janitor all at once.

There’s no punch card, no paid 15 minute breaks, and no pretending to work for the last hour while you watch the clock for quitting time. You get to/have to create your own schedule and your own structure.

As awesome as being a business owner is, it can be really stressful and crazy-making. You’ve probably figured out some tricks for keeping it together, but here are some of my favorite ways to maintain my status as a functional human being while building a business.

Tricks for Staying Healthy as an Entrepreneur

Guard your office hours

Set boundaries around your time. Have a bedtime and stick with it. Stay away from your email on the weekends and after certain hours at night. Have a designated unplug day (that’s Sundays for me). Eat at least one meal per day far away from your computer. Hustling is great, but don’t forget to live outside your business too!

Leave the house

Sometimes I like to take my laptop and a notebook to a coffee shop for a change of scenery (I am the Cafe Wordsmith, after all!), or I leave the computer altogether and go for a walk. If I’m stuck on a project, I take an hour to browse a bookstore, take myself to lunch, or maybe take a whole morning off to visit a museum or something.

Go out with friends in the evenings. Schedule a date night with your significant other or best friend every week. When you work at home, it’s really easy to become a hard-working hermit in pajama pants, but you’ll feel more creative and balanced if you take time to get some sunshine and social interaction.

Work in short bursts with breaks in between 

Our brains can only concentrate on one thing for 45 minutes or so before we start thinking about what to have for dinner. Try working in concentrated chunks of 45-55 minutes and taking a 5-10 minute break between bursts. Active breaks away from the computer are best.  I like get up and fill my water bottle, go outside for a minute, or even hula hoop in between work bursts. When you let yourself focus and rest, your productivity will skyrocket.

Pay attention to ergonomics

Back problems, sore necks, and carpal tunnel syndrome suck, and unfortunately, they’re very common among entrepreneurs (and anyone else who works at a desk). Prop up your laptop so you aren’t hunching over to see the screen. Get an ergonomic mouse if your wrist is acting up. Try a standing or even treadmill desk if you can. Make sure to get up every once in awhile so you aren’t in the same sitting position for hours and hours. You’ll have fewer aches and pains and feel more energetic too!

Prioritize

It’s a hard truth, but here it is: It won’t all get done.

When you have a zillion little things on your to-do list, it’s so easy to get stuck in the piddly little tasks that ultimately won’t move your business forward. Instead of going for the little things first, start with the important things that will make the biggest difference.

I like to start my day by doing something that will help my business grow, like writing a blog post or sending an email pitch. Once that’s done, I move onto client work, because I’m held accountable for that and I know I’ll defy time and space to get it done on time.

But the other really important stuff no one’s checking up on me for? I’m more likely to blow that off. So I get it done first. Try it for a week and see what happens!

Prep some healthy meals

We know we feel better when we eat well, but when we’re on a time crunch it’s so much easier to nuke a frozen burrito than put together a beautiful, nourishing salad.

The solution? Do as much as you can ahead of time.

When you bring home your groceries, chop veggies for snacks and salads so all you have to do is open a container. Premake some sauces or dressings, cook up some healthy proteins, and put together some grab and go snacks. Learn about the wonders of crockpots and quick dump dinners if you haven’t already.

Healthy food can make a huge difference in how you feel, think, and work, so it’s worth it to put in a little time to make healthy eating easier when you’re busy, because that’s when you need that energy the most.

Delegate

You can’t do it all yourself, and you shouldn’t for a few different reasons. First, it’ll wear you out and you won’t be able to give your all to the parts of your business that only YOU can do. Also, you might not be that good at everything, which is fine! Not everyone is amazing at all aspects of running a business, so don’t waste time on things that aren’t your zone of genius when you can hire someone who enjoys it and might actually do a better job.

Looking to outsource? Check out my services page.

Entrepreneurship takes a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to run you into the ground. Burnout will not grow your business or make you a happy person, so make sure to take care of your health and your precious brain while you turn your business into your dream empire!

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