Well hello there! Catherine Langman here with you on the Productpreneur Success Podcast! Welcome to the show if you’re a new listener, and welcome back if you’re a long-time listener!
So today on the show, I wanna ask you a question: How are you going?
I’m serious – I’d love to know. Jump into our Rockstar Productpreneur group, reply to one of my emails, send us a DM on socials – whatever is the easiest way to communicate.
And share with me – how are you going? Where are you feeling the struggle right now?
Things are pretty tough in business for most of us right now, off the back of months of supply chain prices, fulfilment delays, that damn virus that still plagues our very existence…
If you’re, like me, a Mum and a business owner, then I have a good idea of how you’re feeling right about now….
I’ll bet you often feel stressed out. Totally overwhelmed by your to-do list and the million different demands on your time. “Make time for yourself” they say. Pfft. As if!
And “tired” doesn’t even begin to poke a stick at how freaking exhausted you are. All. The. Friggen. Time.
There’s this phenomenon being reported all around the world, but including here in Australia, called the Great Resignation. Where employees are just not going to tolerate working in jobs where they feel unappreciated, undervalued, underpaid, overworked, disrespected, or just plain bored.
But I’m also seeing this with business owners as well. Just like hitting a wall, feeling burnt out and losing the passion.
One of my own mentors loves to remind me all the time – business is a marathon, not a sprint. And he’s totally right of course, although whenever he says that my first reaction is to want to throw my hands in the air because I am NOT a runner – a run to the letterbox would probably have me coughing up a lung.
But I digress…
We all go into business for ourselves for fairly similar reasons – in my audience it’s usually to make good money doing something we love but also having some flexibility around our time.
But when things are tough for a long period of time, plus we have other responsibilities taking up our time, like children for example, over time we can end up doing a whole lot of hard work for everyone else – customers, staff, suppliers, children, parents, schools etc etc, and lose sight of our own self or our own wellbeing.
And that’s what we’re going to talk about during this podcast episode.
But before we dive further into this episode, I’d like to ask you a quick favour: if you love this episode, would you share it with one or two of your business besties? Especially if you know they’re looking to grow their eCommerce business sustainably and profitably this year. It’s super easy to share – just click on the icon next to the podcast on whichever platform you listen to it on, copy the share link and then send it in a message to your friends.
OK, let’s dive into the episode…
Then the number 1 reason for stress and fatigue won’t surprise you at all: it is poor work-life balance.
120 hours for working, 5 hours for sleeping, 20 hours for coffee…. Sound familiar?
Well I’ve certainly been feeling the pressure this last month, as I swear I’ve been dying. (Though it’s entirely possible I just caught man-flu off my husband…only jokes – I’m not actually sick!)
Add to that my boys’ swimming training schedule – we’re up at 4:30 many mornings for training, then to school, then from school back to the pool for more training in the afternoons… Next week is their National Swim Champs before they finally have a 2 week break from training and I can tell you – I reckon I’ve earned it myself!
Who the heck has time for Easter or school holidays? Not me, not yet, no way!
BUT luckily for y’all, I’m a seasoned Entrepreneur and have learned a trick or two over the last 15 years and many, many ups AND downs of being in business for myself.
It doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes wallow in the down times – I’m prone to the odd pity party every now and again. But I’m also a lot more resilient these days, and have learned some really effective tools and practices that help me to recalibrate my energy and emotions.
So let me let you in on a few secrets I’ve learned to keep the hair on your head, the wrinkles at bay, and the zzzzzzz’s flowing nicely at night-time!
#1. On a Sunday evening, put your Drill Sergeant hat on, pull out your calendar and schedule your week ahead with military precision.
Do not schedule more than 3 “must do” (work) tasks per day. If your to-do list is short enough that you can actually get it all done in a day and tick it all off your list, you will feel AMAZING! The lift to your mood and boost to your confidence this will give you should not be underestimated!
(And of course you may feel free to reward yourself by doing some extra work!)
And do not – I repeat, DO NOT, over-schedule your days! This is the root of all overwhelm and is a very bad habit that you must break immediately. Trust me on this one. Make “No” (or “no thanks” if you’re more polite!) your new favourite word!
A never-ending to-do list that is not prioritised, can feel like the bottomless pit of the laundry basket. I don’t think I’ve seen the bottom of that basket in years! (And before anyone wants to comment to me that I should not be doing all the laundry in the family – I don’t. I barely do half these days!)
But seriously – if you work to a to-do list but it’s a really long list and it’s not prioritised in order of most critical and important to least, not only is this very overwhelming and makes it hard to know what to spend your time on, but it also feels very demoralising when you get to the end of the day and the list doesn’t look any shorter.
And finishing a day on that sort of negative note, or feeling deflated like you’re not making progress, is a sure fire way to losing motivation for your business.
So when I say, include 3 must-do items on your list, I’m not talking about 3 massive things like ‘build website’, ‘set up facebook ads’ and ‘take product photos’.
Sure you might know off the top of your head what all the tasks are that go into executing those 3 big projects, and think you can just keep those 3 items on your to-do list until they’re done.
But trust me when I say this – the psychological mood-boosting benefits of actually ticking EVERYTHING off your list each day, will absolutely be worth the effort of breaking your list down into the actionable items you can do in a day.
So what I do at the start of the week (or Sunday night), is this:
- first I write down 3-5 wins, big or small, from the week before
- second, I reflect back on my quarterly goals and the projects I have to complete this quarter. Then, I work out what are the 3 main tasks that I must complete for the week ahead in order to be on track to achieve my quarterly goals. and
- third, I plan out my 3 main tasks for the next day to be on track to complete everything for the week.
Something I like to do at particularly busy times of year, in addition to scheduling my work week, is to add reminders to my calendar for everything – whether it’s my child’s library day, or husband’s cricket, or a family event, or school carnival or whatever, it goes in my phone with an alarm. Sometimes the alarm goes off days in advance so I don’t forget to buy a gift or prepare food!
#2. Tell that guilty conscience to wrack off already.
Whoever thought up that term ‘mother’s guilt’ has a lot to answer for. Although it was probably a Mum. We seriously are our own hardest task-masters and worst critics aren’t we?
I think schools are still – even in 2022 – really good at making mums feel guilty about not contributing enough. You know even this year my kids’ school runs a welcome breakfast for the dads but a morning tea for the mums. As though we don’t have important careers and can just be available at any time of the weekday.
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling a bit embarrassed by the state of my house – even on a good day the kitchen is full of dirty dishes, the floor needs a good sweep,there’s laundry all over the place, a pile of unopened bills and who knows what else. But I gave up worrying about all that many years ago, nor do I feel like it’s all my responsibility in the family either.
If my kids go to school in wrinkled clothes or looking like a gypsy, I know there will be the judgy judgy teachers and parents passing comment behind my back, but I really couldn’t give a rats about it these days. I don’t take any of those societal expectations on board anymore.
From a business perspective – I see business owners trying to please everyone ALL the time. There’s definitely this idea that the customer is always right and if one is upset we must give in to all their demands in order to make sure they don’t spread nasty rumours about us.
Or the times when we feel like we’re falling short – we’re not doing enough, or doing it perfectly enough, to have success.
Wherever the guilt or shame comes from – there really is zero value in allowing those feelings to creep in. Tell that voice to shut the hell up!
We must set boundaries both in business and personally, and we must stick to them. Ultimately, we teach people how to treat us, so it’s really important to stick to this one.
Make it a mantra that you repeat to yourself daily: “I am enough just as I am.” Your kids, your partner, your family and friends, heck even your clients and customers, all like, love, admire and think you’re pretty damn cool just the way you are.
And if they don’t – they’re not your people.
I remember my very first ‘Karen’ of a customer. I tried to be reasonable and follow that ‘customer is always right’ mantra, but it wasn’t helping at all. She just got more and more unreasonable and rude and demanding. Looking back I know they were being aggressive just to try and get some free stuff. Eventually, someone told me to ‘file her emails in the round file’, aka the trash, and I’ve used that philosophy ever since.
Same at home. I find it’s easier some days if I just don’t look down (or in the mirror). If I don’t see the mess, it doesn’t bring me down and I can just focus on the good stuff.
#3. Look after yourself.
Us Mums get full marks for looking after everyone else in our lives. When you are busy running around like a chook with its head cut off, doing a zillion things at once, your adrenalin is pumping and you feel invincible!
But then the minute you stop, your hormones crash and that is exactly when you get sick. (I confess I still make this mistake sometimes. I really should take my own advice ALL the time, not just SOME of the time…)
The flip side of this running-on-adrenaline-busy kind of lifestyle, is the stress and emotional short-fuse that many of us have developed throughout the long covid lockdowns and restrictions. Kind of pushing against those restrictions or trying to control a situation that’s out of our control like that, does tend to lead us onto more of an emotional rollercoaster that’s pretty exhausting.
Operating like that is not healthy for any of us though. And even though it often feels impossible, like we just don’t have time, we absolutely must find little ways throughout the week to look after our own health and wellbeing.
In that schedule you create on Sunday evenings, work out when you can get some exercise in – just walk the kids to school if nothing else. For myself, I go on several walks a week – sometimes alone and sometimes i drag my 11 year old daughter Izzy with me. Plus, I also do one weights session a week – I’d like to do more, but all my driving too and from the pool with my boys is making it a bit hard to fit in right now.
Also make sure you have food in the house so you can eat healthy. I find I need to have some really simple, easy and fast options to reach for during the day, because if it requires me to prepare food I just won’t do it. So it’s usually left-over dinner for me for lunch each day.
Keep a bottle of water on your desk so you stay hydrated and put yourself to bed when you’re tired. Without your phone – leave that thing out of the bedroom so you can actually get a good sleep without being sucked down the rabbithold of social media for hours!
For me – my favourite way to top and tail my day that helps ensure I stay healthy and calm, is to walk in the mornings (like walk the kids to school) and before bed I used to read novels to my kids, but now my 11 year old daughter Isobel reads to me. She’s currently reading the Harry Potter series to me chapter by chapter and it’s actually a lot of fun. Turning off the devices like this is super helpful at calming the monkey mind and helping me get to sleep more easily, which in turn helps me to have more sustained energy for this marathon we call life.
Well I mean, d’uh!
But don’t worry, I don’t mean normal breathing, if you didn’t do that you’d be dead!
A while ago I stumbled across an article about 4-7-8 breathing, which is derived from yoga techniques and is particularly useful in calming our adrenaline and cortisol hormones – those fight or flight hormones that flood our bodies when we’re feeling stressed.
If you google it you’ll find videos on how to do it.
So if you’re feeling heightened stress levels, overwhelmed, anxious, like your brain is racing, or you just can’t ‘switch off’ to go to sleep, then I urge you to try it.
It literally takes one minute to do and you’ll be absolutely stunned by the change you experience. It’s almost like a magic cure for stress!
The other kind of breath work that I am a massive, massive advocate for, is meditation.
I used to be the kind of person who would swear black and blue that I can’t meditate, because I can’t shut my brain up for long enough, or can’t sit still long enough without feeling antsy and like I need to be doing something else.
But a couple of years ago, I actually went and did a course in Transcendental Meditation. If you go to http://www.tm.org you’ll see it’s an international organization and they run courses everywhere.
So anyway, I learned how to sit and meditate and found it’s actually easy. Using this method requires no concentration, no planning, no trying to control one’s thoughts, no chanting. Basically no skill at all.
There’s a lot of scientific evidence now that shows the benefits of regular meditation – at calming the nervous system, managing stress and anxiety, helping with focus and productivity, and of course helping to sleep better.
To say this practice has changed my life for the better would be an understatement!
#5. The Sun will still come up tomorrow.
Remember the song from the original Annie movie?
The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow
So You Gotta Hang On ‘Til Tomorrow
Well it’s so so true. Truly it doesn’t matter what happens, the world will keep turning, the sun will come up tomorrow, you’ll get up and keep going and everything will be ok.
I used to be so stressed all the time, and at the root of it was a very deep fear of failure: What if I don’t make enough sales to cover the bills? What if people hate my idea? What if I miss this deadline? What if I stuff up this technology and make my website crash? What if I forget my kid’s school assembly? What if I get sick and can’t get anything done?
I mean the list could go on ad infinitum couldn’t it?
Well, every single one of those has happened to me, and worse, and you know what? It really didn’t matter in the end.
Hardly anyone noticed, and those that did were either understanding and forgiving, or didn’t have my best interests at heart (and therefore didn’t matter).
And I still achieved success despite all these “failures”.
I suppose the key is to learn from those mistakes and not repeat them, but even more important is to recognise them not as failures, or potential failures to be afraid of, but simply as a learning process.
It’s the scientific process in action: try something, see what happens, and iterate from there.
And to also recognise that how OTHER people react when you stuff up says absolutely nothing about you and everything about them. Don’t bother taking their issues on board! Look for the useful critique and use that to refine what you’re doing and improve next time.
I want you all to make a promise with yourselves to make peace with “the worst that could happen”. Once you’re comfortable you can deal with the worst, then you have beaten fear!
And this, my friends, sets you up for massive growth and success. Whilst also maintaining a bit more balance in life, and energy to last the marathon that is business.
So that’s what I have for you today and I really hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. Hopefully there’s an idea or two that you might be able to incorporate into your own day or week.
Like I said at the start – I’d love you to reach out and share with me how you’re travelling right now. Share what you’re struggling with so that I and others in our community can help support you.
So make sure you join our free Rockstar Productpreneur community – if you’re not already a member, all you need to do to join is head to catherinelangman.com/rockstar
Or, if you’re keen for some help with this stuff, please just give us a shout! Whether you need help to learn and implement these things, or you’d like to outsource to our team, just head over to productpreneurmarketing.com and you can book in for a free strategy session.