I was in a slump – a big one – for a couple of months. A slump happens for many different reasons. I've learned some preventative measures, but in this article I really want to cover what to do when you've gotten into a slump. How do you get out?
I can happily say that I've been in the clear – out of the slump – for several weeks. I'm still not completely up to speed (for instance, this is the first post I've written for this blog in ages), but I'm ramping up my productivity and I feel good about what I'm doing.
Let Go if You Need To
I stopped being dedicated to work on my websites because we were in the process of house-hunting. It's a very, very emotional process. We bid on one house and lost the bid. Then we went through an agonizing month of looking at many houses and not finding “the one.” Finally, we found our house and wow, that was a roller coaster of making an offer, getting it accepted, closing on the house, moving in, and finally settling. Did I mention that I found out I was pregnant during all of that? We had a lot going on.
I realized that I just couldn't do a lot of the work I'd have liked to do during that time. I really wanted to, had even tried to take steps to make sure I'd get some work done, but in the end I needed to just let go. There were other priorities in life: getting moved, getting through the first trimester of pregnancy, getting the family settled. It's OK if you sometimes have to focus on one area of life.
Getting Back to Work Sooner
Letting go is good – but staying stagnant is not. People have a tendency let go and keep on puttering around, never getting back to work. “Work” is whatever project that needs doing. Once I got done with the immediate needs of moving in (setting up the kitchen, for instance), I realized that I just needed to get back to work. Sitting around and feeling depressed about the enormous amount of work in front of me was doing me no good.
It doesn't do you any good, either. Once your time of crisis focus has passed, it's time to get yourself back to work on the projects that mean the most to you! Pick something that really needs to be done, and something that will really make a difference. Don't choose busywork. Don't choose your email backlog! An income-producing project is the ideal.
Toss the To-Do's and Pick What's Important
If you're like me, you're probably staring at a “to-do list” that's a mile long. I realized that my list was only depressing me. I put everything that wasn't “urgent” away to examine later (I picked about 3 weeks out from the date I was at). Then I created a few categories that were very important in my life. I ended up with:
- Home – getting the house organized from the move
- School – getting all the materials and lesson plans for our upcoming home school eyar ready
- Business – Income-producing projects
- Work – Mundane “maintenance” tasks for work (checking stats, website tweaks, email, etc.)
For me, placing the most important task for the first three categories on my daily agenda really helped. The fourth category, “Work” was good for when my energy levels were low (after working on the more important “Home”, “School”, and “Business” categories).
Every day I determined which of my tasks was most important. I planned to work on that first. Then I worked on the other important things, and finally, mundane tasks.
I tried to work on “Business” or “School” tasks first, because they took the most energy, creativity, and focus. “Home” cleaning and organization is easier 🙂
Set Goals and Prevent Future Burn-Out
I think it's important just to get back to a baseline of getting some important work done for a week or so. Then you can really re-evaluate your goals for yourself, your home life, and your business. Examine your strategy and work on tweaking it if needed.
Be willing to set goals and truly take steps to work towards them. Also be willing to re-evaluate every couple of weeks. You may grow bored of writing articles every day, for instance. It may be time to focus on creating an audio or video product, or on writing a book. It's important to finish projects, but changing your schedule of activities from time-to-time can help prevent burnout.
Sometimes you'll need to just grind through a project. Maybe you want to write an email campaign sequence for your autoresponder. This can make you a lot of money if you get it up and running. It's something you could choose to do over a period of time (an email a day, for instance) — or you could just focus on writing the whole campaign over the course of one 20-hour workweek.
Vary how you organize your projects.
Do your most important project first. Save the mundane things (and email!) for when your energy levels are low later in the day. If you work on something important for a few hours and find your energy lagging, stop for the day. You'll get a lot more done tomorrow, when you're fresh.
And take a break now and then. Take the weekends off 🙂 Take a whole week off from time to time. You'll be more energetic and creative when you return to your projects.
What's caused your slumps? How did you overcome?
Photo by Kasia and Mike