Recently, I took the day off to go to local conference. It was a great opportunity for women entrepreneurs to collaborate with teachers, incubators, a few investors and other entrepreneurs. It was fascinating to listen to their mindsets, and for the purposes of this article, it was interesting to see who wasn’t there. Those of us who hold a mindset of having to work all the time don’t attend conferences like that. In fact, we don’t take days off for any reason because we believe we must be working all the time.
Rooted in the Past
Many of us believe that in order to be truly dedicated to our business, especially one that we have started ourselves, that we must sacrifice everything in order to make it successful. We have to give up family, friends, free time and everything else in order to meet our customer’s needs and do all those things that we need to do to succeed.
On the outside, this seems like a noble idea. We hear it all the time in the business world. We hear that the customer is always right. We hear that customer satisfaction is paramount. It’s a mantra that every successful business seems to repeat.
Combine that external message with all those lessons we might have learned as a child or as an employee in the corporate world. We were probably rewarded as children by our parents and teachers for working hard. One major component of our performance reviews in a corporation probably had to do with our work ethic.
We’ve probably even played that game where we try to look like we’re working hard or very busy to make a good impression on those people around us. If our parents, teachers, friends, coworkers, bosses or customers see us working all the time, they will believe that we’re hard workers, that we’re successful entrepreneurs, that we’re good people.
The funny thing is that many of us probably left the corporate world to start our own businesses to get away from that pressure to need to be working all the time. We probably understood that time spent didn’t necessarily mean productivity or success. We wanted to work smarter, not longer. And many of us probably went out on own in order to free up time for other priorities in our lives.
So what happened? How did we get back to what we were trying to escape? And how do we break out of the mindset of needing to be working all the time?
A Case Study
I was coaching a client a few weeks ago. As we were talking, she was telling me how completely overwhelmed she felt. In fact, she was in that place where she felt like she had so much work she couldn’t even write it all down.
When things get that bad, it’s easy to throw up our hands and just believe that that’s life. The reality, however, is that it is only a symptom. It’s not the reality itself. It’s a symptom of certain patterns of behavior. It’s a symptom of time management issues. It’s a symptom of prioritization challenges. It’s a symptom of this mindset of needing to work all the time.
With this particular client, I asked her to give me a brain dump of everything she does for a whole week. When I looked at her list, I had no doubt that she was overwhelmed. She was trying to do an incredible amount of things, but the bottom line was that it was her mindset that was the problem.
One Major Mindset Change
Although we came up with several ideas on how to change the mindset for this particular client, I want to share with you particularly helpful idea in this article. We need to change our idea of what is an appropriate response time.
We live in a world of instant gratification. We can eat whatever out-of-season food we want. We can watch whatever program we want. We can read whatever we want. And we can do all of those things whenever we want to do them. We live in a world of instant text messages, and we expect an immediate answer. On the flip side, we often feel pressure to answer text messages and e-mails immediately.
This particular client was having every e-mail, whether it was a sales pitch, a greeting from a friend or a request from a client, sent to her phone. She spent all day being distracted by every single e-mail that came in, which made it very hard to focus on her more important work. I encouraged her to set aside time in the morning and in the evening, scan her e-mails at those two times only, and respond accordingly. I reassured her that a 24-hour to 48-hour response time was reasonable.
If you are in a similar mindset, that one change alone will reduce your stress significantly. Give yourself permission to compartmentalize your e-mail to a set time. And watch your time become more available and more productive. This goes beyond e-mail as well—phone calls, texts, Facebook alerts all can WAIT. Focus on the task at hand and let some of those things sit, you’ll feel better and get so much more done.
Need help getting to the bottom of your “overwhelm”? I can help! Contact me today for a free call to see if coaching with me is the right fit for your needs.