Today’s post is from Holly Sutton, who blogs about digital marketing at A Branch of Holly. I know a lot of entrepreneurs start out juggling their business on the side while still working a day job (which is what I recommend) so I knew this would be a great topic to share.
Have you heard of Superwoman Syndrome? Even if you haven’t, I bet you’ll recognize the description instantly:
“These women are constantly striving to accomplish everything possible in a perfect manner and have not learned how to put themselves as a top priority.”
In other words, Superwoman Syndrome describes all women who are trying to do as much as they possibly can. Can you put yourself under that category? I sure can. For the past couple of months I’ve limited my free time massively. I work full-time, and spend almost every evening and weekend creating content for my blog or business idea. I know it’s what I want to do more than anything. But boy, it’s exhausting.
It got to point where I didn’t think I was going to be able to manage everything. I wanted to continue creating content for my blog, but I wasn’t getting the time to work on products for my business. And if I dedicated more time to my side gig, I was worried about the lack of posts on my blog. It’s a vicious circle, isn’t it? One can’t work without the other. It’s about finding – what’s that word people hate? Balance.
I may not have found balance. But I have found some pretty good strategies for keeping on top of everything, whilst still feeling like you’re making progress. It’s easy for people to say, “I know what you mean.” But for those of you reading this, whether you’re starting out as an entrepreneur or you’ve been doing it for years – I know it can get too much. The thoughts and ideas going round in your mind are never ending. Where do I start? How do I do everything? Can I do it all? You can – if you’re smart about it.
Plan Your Time
We’ve all been taught that you can’t do anything without a plan. I don’t know about you, but that’s one of the best things I’ve learned. Now this isn’t a to-do list – it’s not something where you feel bad for not completing a task. Planning is about breaking your day down into manageable chunks of time, where you feel as if you’ve worked on everything you wanted to. This is where an online calendar or, if you’re a paper girl like me, a diary or planner comes in handy. You don’t need to write down specific tasks. You just need to identify when you’re going to work on certain things. I’ll give you a brief example of my general weekday schedule.
Evening: (after ‘me time’ – exercising, eating etc.) – Side Project
Blocking out your time shows you exactly what you’re working on and when. Then it’s up to you what smaller tasks you work on within those different sections.
Set Boundaries & Dedicate Time
When I found that nothing was getting done for my side gig, I realized it was because I wasn’t dedicating any time to it. I wasn’t specifically saying “For this one hour, I will do X.” That is crucial in your plan. So when you’re planning time to work on your side hustle, note down exactly what it is you’ll be working on. Writing your ‘About’ page for your website? Planning an eBook? It’s all about being purposeful with the time you have. As for boundaries, let people know what you’re doing. If you’ve dedicated an hour to planning your eBook, that’s what you’re doing. Don’t let your pet interrupt you wanting a cuddle or your spouse/roommate interrupt you for a tea break. You’ve scheduled this time in for a reason. Sometimes you have to be ruthless.
Find a Work Buddy
Otherwise known as an “accountability partner”. It’s great if you’re going into business on your own, seriously. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have someone to share the journey with along the way. Even if their purpose is to make sure you’re spending your time as you planned and you’re accomplishing what you want. It can make you want to achieve your goals even more when someone else knows about them too.
Yet another life lesson we’re all still trying to figure out. One of the main problems I’m having with my business idea is knowing where to start. The one piece of advice everyone has given me? Write everything down. Everything. Every little thing you need to do put down onto a list. It’s basically a huge mental dumping ground. That way you can put into context what you need to get done and when. Hopefully it should start to form an order as you start seeing your ideas on paper.
But it’s not just about what you need to do – it’s also about what you’re doing right now. I was made to think that you had to post on your blog every day and content was the most important thing. That’s just part of it. There’s also your social media platforms, your mailing list and guest posting. What do you need to do to get your business out there? Usually, it doesn’t just come from posting content on your own blog – exactly why I’m here for Danielle today!
If you really want it, you’ve got to be productive. Like Kathleen and Emily say in their Being Boss podcast all the time – you’ve got to do the work. That’s the difference between businesses that make it and businesses that don’t. The ones that do have a person working their absolute hardest behind the scenes and creating something from real passion and determination. They don’t check their phone during a time when they’re working and they don’t start another task in the middle of one they’re already working on. If you find it difficult like I do, try out a technique. I’m trying out the Pomodoro technique and it seems to be working.
Be Okay With Making Sacrifices
Your social life will take a bit of hit if you’re working on all these things at once. You might have to skip evenings out and your lunch break will be spent at your desk for a while. But just think – one hour a week at lunch is five extra hours a week. That’s an extra twenty hours a month. I’d say that’s worth the sacrifice for a couple of years. Then you can actually spend your lunch break doing whatever you want!
Remember it’s Your Life
The whole point of this post is to help you manage all of these great things you’re doing without burning yourself out. It’s possible. Which is why the big secret is this: you don’t have to work on it 24/7. That’s how you will burn yourself out. Usually, taking a break means you come back feeling fresher, more focused and definitely more productive. Last month, I came down with a horrid cold that made me realize I needed to take a step back and spend some time on myself. It’s not selfish – it’s your life. You need that time to grow and figure out the next steps. Don’t worry about taking a week off if you need to. And definitely don’t apologize for it.
This is something myself and many people I know have been living by this year. Living intentionally. Doing things with intention and spending our time purposefully. Not doing things “just because.” Say tomorrow, you’re dedicating an hour of your evening to work on creating a really great newsletter landing page on your site. Being intentional about it is the difference between sitting down at your computer and going through your social media channels; or actually sitting down for an hour and getting this task done.
It’s hard work. But you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t know that already. I know you want it. You’ve just got to keep believing that you can do it.
And you can do it.
Holly is founder and editor of A Branch of Holly. She thrives from teaching and helping people build an online presence through understanding social media and other digital tricks. She currently works as a Digital Marketing Executive but is in the process of creating her own business, where she will teach people about using social media and online strategies to enhance their presence. Most days you can find her cuddling her kitty with a good cup of tea nearby.