How to Get Back On Track When You’re Feeling Frustrated, Disorganized and Unmotivated

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One of the hardest parts of being a solopreneur is getting yourself out of a rut. You know what I mean – you get behind on some projects and start adding more items to your to-do list and before you know it you’re overwhelmed.

Or you have a task you don’t really want to do sofrustrated-woman-2.jpg you’ve been putting it off. But you keep worrying about it. Before you know it all you can think about is this task and how you’re not doing it and your entire productivity is out the window.

Or you’ve been working on a big project for a client and letting things go in your office. Now there’s stacks of clutter on and around your desk.

You’re finished the project but you don’t “have time” to tidy. Each time you sit down to work you get distracted. You file one thing, then check your email, surf the net, get back to what you’re working on and … You feel like you have ADD. You can’t focus on anything. Nothing’s getting done.

Or you can be in true entrepreneurial hell and have all three going on – like I am right now. So what’s a poor entrepreneur to do to get out of a rut?

Get back to basics!

This is where having a coach can help you get yourself unstuck, by reminding you what works. If you don’t have a coach, you can still get yourself out. The key is to remind yourself what worked in the past.

If you’ve been in business for any length of time you have routines – things you do that keep you motivated and help you manage all the things you need to do to keep your business running. The problem is that periodically we forget them. For a while I thought it was just me. That somehow I was stupider than the average entrepreneur.

Then I joined a group coaching program. We had biweekly calls to talk about issues we needed help with. What amazed me most is during each call I’d discover that everyone else was going through the same thing as I was. These were incredible, successful people – I was in awe of some of them. And yet they all got stuck sometimes and needed to be reminded how to work productively.

It doesn’t really matter what set you off – an illness, a heavy workload, the full moon. The key is to recognize you’re off track and decide to take action.

Put On Your Thinking Cap

When you’re in that terrible place where you’re busy-busy-busy but nothing’s getting done, stop for a moment. Like they say in 12-step programs, the first step to recovery is recognizing you have a problem.

Once you’ve recognized the problem, take a moment to congratulate yourself for recognizing that you’re off track. You’ve probably been beating yourself up mentally for not being more productive so stop it now. This is just part of the cycle of business.

Take a Break

Sometimes getting off track is the result of working too hard for too long. If you’ve been a slave driver to yourself, give yourself permission to take some time to walk away from your business.

Maybe it’s just an hour to go to the gym. Maybe it’s an afternoon to curl up with a trashy novel. Maybe it’s an entire weekend off to spend with your family. If burnout is the cause of your troubles, take the time to take care of yourself. You’re not getting anything done anyway and by taking a break you’ll likely come back and more than make up for the time you took off.

Write it Down

What if you’ve already taken the day off (or more) and you still can’t get anything done? You may have too many things going on in your head to keep track of. Write them down. You’ll stop worrying about forgetting something and be able to focus on the task at hand. Once they’re down on paper, create a plan. Create action steps and deadlines for each of the items you’ve written down.

If you’re telling yourself you don’t have time to plan – stop it. You don’t have time NOT to plan. What you’ve been doing isn’t working, so create a plan.

Remember my post reminding you to get your goals done for the second quarter of 2008? Guess who didn’t do her third quarter goals? Is it any wonder I’ve been struggling to get things done? Of course I know in my head where I want to go and what I want to accomplish, but they’re swimming around in my head distracting me. I need to write them down so I can free up space in my head and actually work.

Cross Some Off

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I have a bad habit of planning to do more than I could ever realistically complete in a day, week or quarter. If you’ve written things down and created a plan but are still stuck, look at your plan with critical eyes. Have you put too much on your plate?

Last quarter I completed my goals and plan but was still spinning my wheels. Then a friend gently asked if maybe I wasn’t trying to do too much. I took a second, harder, look at my goals and realized she was right. I took my book off my goals for the first quarter and told myself I wasn’t going to work on it for three months. And guess what? By crossing it off my list, I suddenly became the Energizer bunny.

Tell Someone

When you work alone, you don’t have any outside motivation – like a boss – to keep you going. If you’re still struggling, find someone outside yourself to keep you motivated. This doesn’t mean you’re a failure as an entrepreneur – it just means you’re human.

Tell a coach, a friend, a colleague or your mother what you’re planning to do, and by when, and ask them to check back with you. You’ll be surprised about how having this outside source can keep you on track

Just do it

Finally, take action – any action. It’s like riding a bicycle. It takes more energy to get the bike moving from a complete stop than it does to keep it in motion. Your business is just the same. Take one action. It doesn’t matter so much what it is as long as you start it and complete it. You’ll find the second is easier. And the third.

Andrea J. Stenberg

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