I met Kathi at Mount Hermon Writers Conference last year while attending the intensive, pre-conference Platform Clinic. At the end of the week, I left with aspirations as high as the redwood trees.
In her printed materials for the clinic, she gave us pages to write action steps based on what we learned. And boy, did I fill those pages with list after list. But when I got home, they became like all my other lists—shame-inducing reminders of everything I wasn’t getting done. I was bouncing around from task to task, not making any headway. I spun around and around like this for the rest of the year, getting nothing done. I was proverbially stuck at the base of those tall redwoods with no tools to get to the top.
When Kathi and Cheri sought early influencers for Overwhelmed, I jumped at the chance. Just by the title, I knew I desperately needed to read this book. I just didn’t know how much it would revolutionize my writing and speaking business.
Here are three elements for how Overwhelmed helped my business:
1. Personal Manifesto. One of the reasons I jumped from task to task was that I hadn’t defined the focus of my business based on who I am as a person. Some communicators are speakers who write, and others are writers who speak. I’m in the latter group, so I needed to concentrate on the platform methods that suited my gifting and passion first. My book and my blog fit well. Podcasting and Instagram, not so much. Each communicator has different methods of sharing that are right for them.
2. Monthly, Weekly, and Daily Planning. Once I had an idea of which tasks were most important, I scheduled them on a monthly, weekly, and daily planner. No more endless to-do lists on sticky notes!
With a little practice estimating the time needed for each task, I could make a realistic plan for my day and follow it. I still have to adjust some days occasionally if I don’t allot enough time, but I can now end my workday with the satisfaction of knowing I’ve done a full day’s work.
3. Breaking Down Major Tasks. When a task seems daunting, I no longer ignore it and hope it will go away. Managing big tasks by breaking them down into micro-steps makes it easier to start. Once I get that first step done, the next follows more easily, and the next, until I realize I’m almost done with that dreaded thing I’ve been putting off.
For example, I recently wrote a synopsis for a book I’m pitching to publishers. Here are the micro-steps I took:
- Review the elements of a good synopsis. What’s my overall outcome supposed to look like?
- Clean up my outline and make sure I’ve added all the changes to reflect my manuscript.
- Write the first draft of the synopsis, referencing the outline.
- Edit the synopsis, checking for sentence variation, grammar, spelling, and word usage.
- Email synopsis to editor or critique group.
- Review critique suggestions and make needed changes.
- Print the synopsis and read aloud, making any last-minute changes necessary.
- Place synopsis into designated folder with other pitching materials.
I now have a business plan for the next three months. All the tasks are based on what’s written on my personal manifesto and focused on the next important thing. They’re broken down into bite-sized pieces and written into a manageable schedule.
I’m not anywhere near the top yet, but thanks to Overwhelmed, I’m inching my way up. As I continue to hone the process so it works even better, I feel empowered to succeed. Like Kathi says in the book, “The measure isn’t always progress; sometimes it’s increased persistence.”
Lyneta Smith is an inspirational writer and speaker who lives with her husband near Nashville, TN. Some of her favorite things to write in her planner: date nights and family time with her adult children. She’s owned by a frisky Boston terrier and a tortoiseshell cat. Connect with her at www.lynetasmith.com.