As an entrepreneur, you love your job. You’re creating your own business, on your own terms, producing what you want and working for yourself. But instead of working a typical 9-5 day, entrepreneurs are always on the clock. This lack of downtime often results in a feeling of overwhelm or even a burnout. And while many think this is inevitable, almost as if it’s part of the job description, it really isn’t. The key is to know how to get organized, be efficient, and most of all, how to take a step back and relax.
Paula Rizzo is an expert in increasing productivity and at the same time avoiding being overwhelmed and having a burnout. She spent 20 years as a TV producer in New York, working as a senior health producer for Fox News Channel for over a decade. Working in this industry taught her how every second counts. “If something needs to be 19 seconds long, it needs to be exactly that. We think in seconds, not in minutes on television. This way of thinking has influenced how I do things in life,” Paula says.
Saying Yes to Everything
Paula is a list-maker, dotes on productivity and efficiency and likes impeccable time management. This has led her to become very successful. She even won an Emmy Award for best newscast. But apart from being on TV, Paula also built up another branch of business: She works as a media trainer and strategist coach and writes books about productivity and list-making.
In her book Listful Living, she talks about boundaries, when to say no to things and how to set priorities. Paula has experienced her own share of stress. She was working full-time at Fox News, getting her book out and attending every networking event and podcast she got invited to. But a year after her book came out, her appendix burst. “That was a very dramatic way of my body telling me to slow down and start listening to myself.” She was in pain for two days, putting it off as food poisoning and not going to the ER because she didn’t want to waste time sitting around for hours.
It turned out that she had to stay in the hospital for eight days and couldn’t work for six weeks. It took her almost a year to recover and she lost 12 pounds. “It was really dramatic. Everything had to be taken off my to do list, but the amazing thing was that everything kept spinning. I realized that it didn’t actually have to be me who did all these things. They were still getting done.” Paula says that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves thinking that we have to be the ones who do everything. This leads to saying yes to everything and forgetting our own wellbeing.
“The feeling of being overwhelmed is often self-inflicted. We’re the ones saying yes to all these things. We’re the ones setting all these priorities. Is it because we feel important when there are a lot of things on our to do list? We have to keep in mind that saying no to something doesn’t mean that all of your opportunities go away forever.”
The Importance of a Realistic To Do List
As an entrepreneur working for yourself, you can work all day, every day if you want. Paula made it a point to avoid this. “I take a step back and think about how I can set up my day. You need to recognize how and when you work best. Do you feel more charged up in the mornings or afternoons? Stack your day that way, and create a pattern that fits your rhythm,” Paula advises.
But if someone simply has too much on their plate? “Look at how long it takes you to do certain tasks. You need to have a realistic to do list. It should only contain things that you realistically have time to do.” Equally important is to ask yourself how you feel about specific tasks. “Before I go on to the next task, I ask myself: Am I happy? How do I feel at the end of this? Great, then I want more of that.”
Take Care of Yourself
How you feel about doing certain tasks is connected to caring about yourself. “People often get self-care wrong,” Paula says. “Self-care doesn’t necessarily have to be a week long vacation or a $300 massage. That stuff is awesome, but at the same time it’s putting pressure on you in the sense of having to give yourself this big gift.” Instead, Paula advises to grant yourself small things throughout the day that make you feel good. This could be a cup of tea, reading a chapter in a book you’re interested in, or just giving yourself space. “Sometimes I tell people to go on a virtual vacation. Pick a destination and go to Google Maps, zoom around for 15 minutes and look at beautiful places.” The point is, you don’t have to spend lots of money to feel refreshed – sometimes, these little moments you grant yourself will do the trick.
Avoiding feelings of stress has a lot to do with listening to yourself and understanding what your rhythm is. “I know I usually feel a bit lazy on Mondays, so I schedule all my coaching session between Tuesday and Thursday. Friday is reserved for creative activities. I used to write my book on Fridays, it really made me happy and excited. Now I’m using it for other creative activities. It’s almost like a self-care day, even though I’m not going to the spa.”
Don’t Mess with Your Free Time
As much as you can recharge from including these little moments of peace into your working day, you do need time off just for you. “I read an article about how people in the UK were taking vacations to catch up on work, which is terrible. It’s as if we’ve forgotten how to go on vacation.” You can set yourself up beforehand to make sure you get enough done, says Paula, so that when you take your vacation, you’re able to recharge and then come back without feeling overwhelmed.
“The other thing I do is that whenever possible, I give myself an extra day after I come back from a trip to not immediately dive into work again. This has been a lifesaver for me.” It’s the same with weekends. “You really have to push yourself because you could work all the time, so often it helps to distance yourself physically from your work. Like this, you won’t get tempted to turn on the computer anyways.”
You’re Allowed to Say No
If you realize that you simply said yes to too many things, don’t feel bad about contacting people and say you overcommitted. “If you’re honest, people will be fine with it. It’s not so bad. It doesn’t close as many doors for you as you might think. Once you start doing it, you will get better at it and it can actually feel very empowering.”
Stress can manifest in many different ways and take a toll on your health. That’s why it’s so important to take a step back and ask yourself: Is that why I’m I getting these headaches around the same time every day? Is that why my back hurts? “Between 70-90% of all doctor visits are stress related. To be able to identify how you’re feeling and understand that it might not be normal can be a huge eye opener.”
Do you want to be more efficient and reduce stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed? Go to ListfulLiving.com and get on Paula’s list to receive helpful tips and tricks!
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