Don’t Over-Extend Yourself as a Business Owner

Posted on May 29, 2012

Have you ever felt that maybe you are taking on too many commitments? Have you ever felt that things are starting to get on top of you?

Working for yourself can leave you regularly feeling like it’s a continuous juggling act with numerous things trying to pull you off into different directions. The world wants us to do more tasks than is physically possible in a day.

Sometimes it can be difficult even to focus on the important tasks and prioritise your commitments, especially if you are the sole person (and I hear you brother!) running your own business.

There are also your personal commitments to consider, you need to juggle your own leisure and family time into the mix. Don’t even get me started on trying to fit a fitness regime in there as well!

In this blog post I’m going to share with you some useful advice that I’ve learnt in my short two years of being self-employed; hopefully this will help you prevent ‘burn out’ or from ‘over-extending’ yourself all too easily.

Recently, I launched my second business, The Presentation Designer. With most of my spare free time I help out my brother with the design and website management of Awesome Games our UK gaming blog.  There is also a bi-weekly podcast that we do as well (and let me tell you, doing a podcast is hard work!)

This year one of my main personal goals was to collaborate more with others. Yes, I do enjoy working for myself but I also miss the social interaction and ability to share ideas working as a team that you inevitably get when you’re employed for a company.

Personal goals are important, they are excellent for your overall development, not just to try new ideas, tactics or strategies but also to allow you to work on other projects aside from your main business.

However, before you rush off to collaborate with that friend, buddy or business contact on that shiny new idea you’ve just come up with, please take a moment to think about the following first:

Answer these Simple Questions Firstly:

  • How much work commitments do you currently have on-going?
  • Note down your current weekly working hours, make a note of how much leisure time you are currently dedicating to yourself.
  • Try to visualise how long you’d like to commit to a new project, idea or strategy – is it a realistic timeframe?
  • How much work will you be required to get this project off the ground?
  • How many hours will it take up of your time each week? How much time would you be prepared to spare?
  • Will you have to commit weekends to these projects?

I recently made the mistake of ignoring these simple questions before committing myself to a recent collaborative project, but I can safely say that now I answer these set of questions each time I have a new project or idea I want to do.

Commit to the Things that Benefit you the Greatest

If you are like me, sometimes you can have a million and one different ideas floating around (most of them being totally crazy). Each new idea seems even better than the preceding one before. With so many ideas it can be very easy to get carried away.

The questions above will help you to realistically address the idea or project and to validate your decision to move it forward to a stage where you decide to commit fully to it. Don’t be committing half-paced, you’ve got to bring your A game on this!

You should also try focusing on the commitments, task, ideas or projects that will benefit you greatest personally. Maybe it’s that night out with your best friend you’ve been promising for months, or reading that great book you bought, or in my case, focusing on the projects that can help me reach my life goals more quickly.

For others, it might be working on the things that bring them money or working on the projects that improve their abilities or the things that they love working on the most.

Everyone will have a different reason to commit to something. It is after all, a personal choice.

Do a Mind Dump

Do a mind dumpRecently, I learned of a new productivity method called a Mind Dump. This is a technique where you write down all the thoughts, ideas, worries, concerns and commitments you currently have in your head directly on to a piece of paper (paper is best or you could type it down etc.)

Once, you have everything down in front of you it makes it much easier to prioritise what is important right now and what are your pressing concerns or tasks that need to be done.

I’ve only just started using it but it has already helped me unwind from work and clarify my thoughts into a manageable, workable system. Mind dumps FTW (for the win!).

Sometimes it’s Best Just to Say No

Be your own personal critic; ask yourself ‘is this really going to help me achieve what I want to do or benefit me in someway?

Do this each time you get a new idea, are approached to commit to something new, or when you find something new to spend your time doing.

If the answer is no, then simply don’t do it. Why would you want to put yourself under more unnecessary pressure?

Stress is not helpful, good for your health or generally an aid to one’s life. Don’t risk having more.

Be Prepared to Give Things Up

stress you don't need it

Finally, sometimes you might have already started a new project or committed to something that at first seemed like a great idea and you’re even finding the time and money available to do it. However, things can change suddenly, if it’s not a major priority to you right now then put it on the back burner, scale it down or even be prepared to give it up completely.

Finally, if you’re starting to feel ‘burnt out’ or ‘overworked’ look at your current life commitments and figure out what you can do without or what is not important, perhaps you’ve simply taken on too much too soon. There is always a simpler or more effective way of doing something.

To end, don’t be afraid to try new things, start new ideas or try something new, but remember sometimes that blissful enthusiasm and keen desire can lead you to become over-extended with your commitments. You have to sometimes reign it in and learn to be your own personal ‘judge & jury’ when it comes to accessing new projects, ideas or commitments.

You will thank yourself in the long run. I truly hope you find this blog post useful.

Image Credit: Picture of NO Graffiti By marc falardeau

Image Credit: Brainstorm Image By andymangold