So, this is the blog I never wanted to write and I really honestly never wanted any of you to have to read, but here we are. This is one of the most under talked about and overwhelming things you can talk about in business. What do you do when your life is literally on fire? How do you keep all the plates spinning when you are dealing with overwhelming stress and or a deeply real personal tragedy.
Let me be clear, this blog is not about business tragedy, not being able to find business, or any of that. This blog is coming from a very real place for me personally which is a little raw still. If you want to get all the details about how I have worked through two major personal tragedies and stress filled situations with my brand new business, without losing my grip on reality, I covered it all in my YouTube video.
The biggest lessons I have learned while dealing with all of these personal tragedies are very numerous, most of them have to do with me and how I process stress. That being said we all process stress differently. I tend to eat my feelings, which I was able to avoid this time around, surprisingly. I attribute my sanity and to these four different actions I took during this past few months and not only did my business survive, it thrived. I got more accounts and clients from things I automated during that time than I could have expected has I not had a plan in place.
Stick to The Plan
The fist thing I learned is that you need to have an emergency plan with plenty of content to see you through the inability to post, write, take calls ,and so on. This will look different for everyone for sure based on your industry, how long an established you business is and how you work. For me, I had posts scheduled a couple of weeks out on my social media channels, I had a few pre written blogs and I even had all of my emergency information easily accessible so I could call and reschedule things with a few clicks.
One really simple tip is to make an emergency email signature which you can easily attach to any email in one click. I also had a deadline of when I would be back to work and answering emails again so I was able to schedule all my out of office replies for my clients.
I also try and have video and written instructions on how to do all of the most important tasks that have to happen on deadlines so people can go in and watch the training and do my job easily and at a moments notice.
If you saw the video you know my friend and business bestie, Tracy Sanderson, Helped me implement all of this the day of so she was really instrumental in helping me keep communication with clients even though I was not available to the directly.
Out Source Your Work
So this is where the ideas for the video tutorials come in handy as well. I started outsourcing really early in my business knowing the value of having a team. I hired a virtual assistant on up-work and he lives in the Phillipines. He is great and does wonderful work for me. He is also less expensive and works on variable time schedules based on my needs. He is wonderful. because I had started training him in non crisis mode and he could do a variety of tasks for me at that point I was in really good shape to hand things off to him in a few clicks.
The Key is to find someone you really like to work with and that learns quickly. There are tons of freelance agencies but I have had great success from using freelancers on Up-Work. You can even filter to work with people in only the United states if you need to, or you can hire a graphic artist, blogger, social media update writer, or even someone just to answer emails for you for a few days while you take a break for what matters.
Santa isn’t the only one who needs to make a list and check it twice folks. You need to have something with all your tasks written that you can easily delegate out or send to people to help you get through whatever crisis you are having. It seems unrealistic to write your to do lists on a weekly basis but I can tell you this will also help you determine how busy you really are and it may surprise you how much of your time is going to emails.
One thing I did want to do was simply check emails twice each day to keep on top of anything for work that may need my more immediate attention. I check them at 9:00 am and then again 8:00 pm. Normally I only check email at those times and once more at 2pm and normally the emergency 8pm slot is at about 4 pm for last minute requests.
Take Time to process your Grief or Stress
This is quite possibly the hardest and worst part of the process. However, if you skip this you will pay later. I took plenty of time for grief, crying, holding my people a little closer, and (again if you saw my video you know) I had some raging angry moments by myself too.
I went and saw a councilor almost immediately after my friend Barbie died (again, see the video for the whole story). This was so helpful. I got all the feels out and processed what I was feeling and why I was feeling that way. Another thing I did makes sure to do was not rush back into work. As tempting as it was I let myself have the days free to comfort my family and friends and take time to really process what I was going through. Because of that choice, there are very few moments that take me by surprise emotionally anymore. At first it would hit me out of the blue and make me double over in grief, now i take a moment to address the feeling and put it squarely back in its place.
My las pice of very real advice is while yo grieve, do not allow isolation to to sneak in. Grief can be sneaky and can really make you feel isolated like on one else can understand what you are going through and thats just not the truth. There are people that care and want to be there for you, so let them. and be patient with yourself. Things do not go back to normal all on their own overnight. I takes adjustment, so be kind to yourself as you process!