3 Tips for Fighting Overwhelm When Work Gets Chaotic

Whether because I was too busy or finally starting to learn from my patterns, I wasn’t surprised when it happened again. I got my routine figured out, my tasks organized, and an actual plan in place. Blog posts, social media experiments, and writing time are all planned for maximum productivity. But then some freelance work came in. It started as one quick article and soon became five. Then it finally warmed up enough to do all the spring yardwork and planting that needed doing. And so my carefully crafted plans were set aside. My blog and social channels languished in silence—except for a few procrastinating tweets and pictures from my garden.

It’s the exact situation that would have been fixed by a content calendar and a cushion of scheduled content. The exact things I had planned to get ahead on over the last month and a half.

When you’re trying to build your brand through social media and a blog, any absence or deviation from your schedule can feel like a failure. It’s worse on platforms that can punish a creator’s reach for any decrease in posting frequency—looking at you, Instagram. This is one of many factors that can lead to social media feeling like a drain.

Fortunately, there are a few small changes you can make to get back on top of things and feel less guilty when something comes along to throw off your routine.

Have clearly defined priorities

Defining how you prioritize different kinds of work doesn’t just help with time management. It keeps you organized and productive while staving off overwhelm. When something new comes up and demands more of your time, your priority list will help you determine which tasks you need to keep up with and which can be put off. You don’t always have to be doing everything.

Two easy work priorities:

  • Any work someone else pays you to do
  • The work at the core of your business/brand

An artist, for example, could put paid commissions as their top priority. After that could be any piece they intend to sell, followed by any practice or just for fun pieces. Making social media content to promote the work comes after—it’s more difficult to promote a project that doesn’t yet exist!

Manage expectations

If you’re the one-person army behind everything in your business, you need to be realistic about your capacity to handle everything it requires. You might want to share frequent behind-the-scenes clips of you making your product and packing them up to be shipped out. But maybe there are too many orders you have to get through. It can set you behind schedule to spend time setting up a tripod and adjusting your lighting for a quality shot.

Focus on your top priorities—making orders and sending them out. During a less hectic period in your schedule, you can set aside time to make a video that meets your standard for quality. You can also consider asking a friend for help or hiring someone to do the work you don’t have time for.

Don’t get bogged down worrying over the tasks you can’t seem to get to. Find solutions by being flexible.

Do less and don’t apologize

This might be hard advice for some, but it’s okay to do less. The focus should always be quality over quantity. Yes, your stats will probably suffer to some degree—be that your website traffic, social post reach, or sales. It doesn’t have to be permanent. You can take a break until you feel better equipped to step things up again. Or maybe you find it works better for you to have a less breakneck speed.

Your absolute top priority should be you. You are the goose laying the golden eggs. It won’t matter if you’re posting daily on every platform if it leads to burnout.

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