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Business as Unusual

by Katie Mehas

in Content Essentials

About this column

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Business as UnusualMy daughter recently started preschool.

Go ahead, take a moment to bemoan the passage of time. It’s my new hobby.

With the total upheaval of our schedule, it’s been hard to find the time or motivation to keep up with everything, if I’m being completely honest. Client work, sure. But blog posts, web updates, social media, not-so-pressing emails? I’m…a little less focused.

It’s been really good for her — this is the first time she’s been away from me and around kids on a regular basis — and I’m sure it’s good for me, too (and not just because I’m walking or biking the half-mile to her school twice a day). But it’s also been a huge change, and a major emotional adjustment. And she’s already gotten sick twice.

That’s not all, of course. It never is.

There’s the family stuff, as usual. (When you have a big family, there’s always some sort of family stuff.) And it seems like lately, every time I read the news, there’s something new to worry about. If it’s not the threat of nuclear war, it’s literal Nazis marching down our streets. It’s collusion and corruption and floods and widespread wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth.

And I’m supposed to blog about marketing tactics.

I think, especially for those of us who are particularly sensitive to the world around us, it can feel like we’re constantly on edge, and that can make it hard to focus on things that feel a bit…banal in comparison. Who can think about a sales funnel when the world is ending? (It’s not. Not today, anyway.)

So how do you keep on keeping on with business as usual when it feels like life is anything but?

Well, there are a few different approaches you might take.

  1. Use your voice.

When it feels like the world is falling apart — personally or globally — you want to talk about it, right? So use your platform to amplify the signal of people who are doing good work. Take a stand. Ask for help. Share your feelings. Your business does not exist in a bubble, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. This approach is probably the most healthy, and certainly the most helpful. Tackling these problems head-on — in your own way, however you can — is the way we create change. You might even build this into your business — plan for a portion of proceeds to go to a charity that means something to you, or schedule time to dedicate to something important to you, whether that’s a volunteer organization or family dinner every night (or once a week). Be explicit about your priorities, and it will be easier to build your life around them.

  1. Plan ahead.

One of the nice things about having a few blog posts in the bank is that you can just drop one into the schedule when you’re feeling less than motivated. Of course, this means you need to do some planning and set aside some time to actually write a block of posts before you need them, and it doesn’t really help with more time-sensitive work, but you might be surprised by what a difference this makes.

  1. Remember that life goes on.

While it may feel strange to talk about business when the “real world” is all that’s on your mind, people are still working. Your clients and your readers still want your support, even if you feel strange offering it. Don’t shy away from being in business. If you had a desk job where you had to punch a timecard each day, you wouldn’t stop going into work when the world got you down — or at least not for long. Which leads me to my next suggestion…

  1. Take a nap.

Or a walk. Or a vacation. Sometimes, you need to acknowledge that life takes precedence, and business will wait. If you miss a blog post, will the world end? Will you find genuine relief from a day off? When your job description doesn’t come with a vacation package, it’s easy to find yourself working 24-7, 365, but sometimes, life calls for a day off. Just make sure a day doesn’t turn into a year.

  1. Know when to back down.

You can’t shut down every time there’s a bump in your life, but there are some occasions that call for a moment of respectful quiet. I, personally, have found myself really turned off by businesses who refused to adapt their calendars immediately following a major event, especially one that would be considered a disaster. A general rule — if a large portion of the world (or, at least, of your audience) is glued to the news because of something major unfolding, don’t butt in with an advertisement. At best, you’ll be ignored, and at worst, you’ll come across as callous. If you’d rather not talk about what’s happening, just step back and keep quiet until some time has passed. And if you’d prescheduled a few posts that you weren’t able to cancel in time, follow up with something relevant and heartfelt. No one expects you to shut down your business, but be aware that while you’re promoting, other people may be hurting. Be kind.

It’s impossible to completely separate our work from our lives. Behind every business is an actual human, and it’s important to remember to be gentle with ourselves. We live in an imperfect world, and sometimes, that needs our attention more than another blog post about how to optimize your email marketing or make the most of social media.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

How does your life factor into your work? Do you find it hard to shut out the outside world when it comes to your business?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy Woolf September 5, 2017 at 6:07 am

Yes to all of this!
I got a “forced vacation” last week, getting quite sick and having to check out and leave a few clients hanging while I scraped myself back into a semblance of humanity. It wasn’t easy but nobody died. I think that what’s going around us is taking it’s toll.

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Katie Mehas September 6, 2017 at 5:32 am

I’m sorry you’ve been under the weather! Sometimes, that’s what it takes to get us to step back, but it’s a shame when “vacation” equals “sick in bed” rather than “lounging by the beach.” Still, it’s sort of eye-opening when you take a few days and nothing collapses, isn’t it? I’ve found that to be such a relief.

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Kelsey September 5, 2017 at 7:08 am

Thanks for this! I also really appreciate the links you gave to the “helpers”–people doing good work.

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Katie Mehas September 6, 2017 at 5:33 am

Honestly, I probably could have linked every word in this post and not covered them all! If you’re ever feeling down on the world, just start researching charitable organizations — there are SO many people doing good work out there.

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Jean Blythe September 8, 2017 at 6:49 am

I remember going in to work on 9/11, taking care of my patients, new moms and babies. It felt so surreal, watching the towers fall and all the aftermath on television, while taking blood pressures, temps and all my usual nurse work. Disasters happen. Life goes on. We acknowledge both. Lovely thoughtful article.

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Katie Mehas September 18, 2017 at 5:40 am

Thank you, Jean. That must have been a strange experience, tending to the beginning of life while the news was so focused on the deaths that were happening. I come from a family of first responders, and I still don’t understand how they can see the things they see during their work day and then come home and go on with their lives. I’m not sure I’d be able to do it.

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