Have you ever found yourself in an unexpected season? A season of uncertainty? A season of slow that you weren’t planning for at all? I’m pretty sure we can all answer ‘yes’. Who am I kidding, 2020 has been a forced season of slow for most of us. Though challenging at times, I’ve been determined to find the joy and beauty in that.
Whether we are talking about the global and national societal impacts this year or another circumstance in your life, let’s talk about business in seasons of uncertainty. There are always lessons to be learned, especially when they come from seasons that we are pushed into; the ones we have no control over. All we can do is learn from them and focus on what we can do.
Over the past 4 months, many of us, especially in the wedding industry, were forced into a season of slow. Along with our clients and much of the economy, we are postponing, reassessing and getting creative to make the best out of a less than ideal season. As entrepreneurs, that is something we are good at – getting creative, solving problems and pushing the envelope.
There are 3 key lessons I have gleaned in the past few months that can be applied to any season of slow. Honestly, if you take advantage of evaluating and leaning into these when things are slower, your busy seasons are bound to run more smoothly as well!
I love my work, but I love my family more. I have to be honest though, my actions haven’t always matched my heart. Having them literally ‘up in my bubble’ 24/7 has been a gift, even in the hard moments. Hearing my daughter ask me to put my computer away to play “lions and tigers and airplanes” or dress up put a lot in perspective for me.
I couldn’t make the excuse that I was working when she didn’t see me because she’s been in the room and aware of what I’m doing every, single day. 2 year olds are smart, y’all! When she tells me “don’t worry about that email mama, play with me” or “put your phone down” – OUCH!
What example am I setting, what is she seeing? Does she see a workaholic mom who doesn’t make time with her a priority or a strong woman chasing her dreams and supporting our family? Then, I started considering what my husband sees and feels. Does he see his wife kicking butt helping others in her business or a best friend becoming a roommate? Honestly, when I answered those hard questions, I didn’t like the answers. So then and there, I took a really hard look at how I was spending my time – more than before.
When those questions are brought to light, it’s a totally different mental space than just trying to get a few hours to work amidst the other chaotic shuffle.
I was forced to streamline and refine more. To set timers, time block like it was my job, and set boundaries more strictly. Now, my phone goes to my nightstand as soon as work hours end. My laptop is not open when Ainsleigh is around or for any business purpose outside work hours. In that, I’ve also gotten my drive back and started brainstorming more than ever before how to help others do the same!
If you’re having a hard time prioritizing, check out THIS POST.
Beyond boundaries, it’s important to get in the habit of being truly productive. Just because you have more time than you expected doesn’t mean it’s in endless supply. Be strategic about how you spend your time and energy. Tell your time where to go.
After prioritizing what actually needs your attention, you can get ruthless with your tasks. Ask yourself these questions and if the answer is no, it’s not a task that needs doing now. Put it in the parking lot.
Once you’re clear on what needs to get done, schedule and plan it into time blocks. Literally set a time limit for each task within your office hours. Time yourself (I use Toggl and it’s been eye opening!). If you’re competitive and like to challenge yourself, this will really fire you up. It pushes me to focus, eliminate distractions and get.it.done. Additionally, it helps me gather data about how long things actually take so I can be more realistic going forward if I grossly underestimate something.
The key here, though, is telling your time where to go. Having a plan with those precious minutes to make them count. Whether things are slow or busy, having the discipline to eliminate fluff will make you more efficient and productive, ultimately translating into a healthier business and a better lifestyle for you.
By nature, all entrepreneurs are creative. We see the world differently and that’s a beautiful thing. That also means that we can use these slower times to put that gift to use! Take the time to reimagine your offerings and solve problems differently.
Can you diversify your revenue streams? Is there something you’ve been wanting to work on that you haven’t had time for? Maybe you see an opportunity to serve others really well, despite current circumstances. The most creative solutions often come out of the greatest challenges. Sit in it, let the wheels turn and try something new. Reinventing ourselves and solving problems is part of our entrepreneurial DNA – put it to work!
Whether you’re overwhelmed or feel like you’re twiddling your thumbs, start here. Three lessons that I believe everything else will ripple and grow from. Prioritize both for your life and in your business, get strategic and intentional with your time, and use your creative gifts to diversify and move into new ways to serve your people.