What to do when you’re overwhelmed
We’re over halfway through January. Do you feel like you’re already scrambling to keep up?
Like many of you, I’ve had a lot going on in the last few years, including a global pandemic, the planet being on fire, political tension, significant eldercare/caregiver duties, assorted medical issues with family members, the winter storms we’re dealing with here in Texas, and HELLO, my wonderful Tourism Currents business partner Leslie McLellan retired this month.
All y’all out there who have email inbox zero and your newsletters, blog posts, and social media planned out for the next two months . . . well, good for you, and take a seat. 😊
There were times in my life when I really had it all together, and I’ll probably get back there eventually, but meanwhile, here is what I suggest you do when things are going bananas and you feel overwhelmed:
Focus on a manageable task list
Clear the decks so you can focus on what matters.
Try using an index card to do it.
I am the worst about loading up my “brain notebook” daily To Do list with more tasks than any human can possibly accomplish in 16 hours (assuming I want to sleep.) Then, when I can’t get it all done, I beat myself up about it.
When it’s time to buckle down and focus, I go get a 4 by 6 inch blank index card.
It was probably Becky McCray who first got me into index cards a bazillion years ago, like how she uses them in her process for getting more out of conferences.
I take that index card and list only the 3 – 5 items that are truly important for that day.
Only 3 – 5, mind you, not the 21 tasks I’ve crammed onto my normal notebook page to do that day, like a knucklehead.
It helps my brain, and might help yours, to hold that card and say,
“Do these things, and only these things, and you will have made good progress today on things that matter.”
When I’ve knocked out the 3 – 5 tasks, I’ve accomplished the most important things for the day, and I’m DONE. I may even have a gin and tonic, and watch some basketball. Treat yourself in whatever way works for you.
Review your marketing goals.
Again and again.
Do you need clarity when you feel overwhelmed?
Go look again at the specific marketing goals you’ve set for the next year or two for your organization.
I dunno; maybe put them on an index card, too!
Frequently remind yourself of what you are trying to accomplish, and why it matters.
Maybe it’s improving offseason visitation numbers. Maybe it’s growing your appeal as a birding or bicycle tourism destination. Maybe it’s increasing the SMERF meetings bookings at your small town’s event venues.
Constantly reminding yourself of those specific goals, of your “why,” can help crowd out all the noise that is distracting you.
The work you need to do and the content you need to create? It should all be tied to those goals you have set. Those are your priorities. Don’t let other people’s agendas get in the way.
If your boss wants something that doesn’t fit with the goals that your own organization has set, then tell her/him that you need some direction.
So much to do! What should I prioritize?
When in doubt about what work to do, prioritize working on the digital platforms you own and control:
- Your website (maybe update some key pages)
- Your blog (write an evergreen blog post answering one of your top 10 visitor questions)
- Your email newsletter (plan the next one)
Related post – Starting an email newsletter for tourism marketing
Do not waste time and effort chasing social media algorithms while neglecting your “owned media.”
If you have that covered, do try to get a day or two ahead on your social media content calendar planning, so you’re not constantly scrambling.
Having your posts planned out a week ahead is a reasonable goal for you Mighty Teams of One or Two.
What can you do now to be ready for a crisis or natural disaster?
The winter storms in the U.S. right now are a good reminder – it is so much easier to prepare for disaster when you’re not already in the middle of it.
While doing some leisurely grocery shopping a few weeks ago, I remembered that I should have spare drinking water for both my house and my Mom’s assisted living apartment, so I tossed some bottles into my cart, then grabbed extra flashlight batteries and energy bars for good measure.
Wouldn’t you know it, a few days later when everyone realized a winter storm was coming in, the stores were packed with people loading up on emergency supplies and creating shortages.
I felt like a genius because I was already stocked up.
It is so much easier to think clearly when you are not in a panic.
Take 30 minutes at the office to gather the staff and ask:
- What is the continuity plan if there’s a storm or flooding or a wildfire or an earthquake? How do we ensure that our visitors, guests, and customers, and our own staff, are regularly updated with important information?
- What’s the plan if a key person is out sick, or is called to jury duty, or has a death in the family?
- Who are the backup admins who have login access for your website, your social accounts, and your email service provider?
From my own crisis management experience, never assume that someone else smarter than you has a plan, and never assume that anyone knows what the hell’s going on. Communicate, communicate.
How about you? Are you doing OK out there?
Any tips to share about being overwhelmed but, “keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you?” (credit Rudyard Kipling)
Let me know in the comments.
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