+44 7879 440170 helen@unlikelygenius.com

A few weeks ago I wrote about visibility and how it leads to great things.

And then I went AWOL.

For weeks.

Ooh, the irony.

What a hippo-crito. 🦛

 

Anyhoo…

In my bouncy excitement, work was flooding in and I took on too much. I was invincible. And others were encouraging me to do more. And more. I can do EVERYTHING! Surely.

No, I can’t.

I ended up with an inevitable scheduling conflict. I suddenly felt overwhelmed and was rapidly heading for burnout. (At least I recognised it this time).

There were so may fab opportunities arising, and as my holiday had been cancelled and we can’t go anywhere right now, I might as well just work, eh? Just say yes and work it out later.

Lesson learned.

I had to go into severe prioritisation mode, work ridiculous hours and make the most of having insomnia. Develop some serious scheduling skills, and negotiation powers. Push myself to say no to people. I hate doing that.

 

So what have I been up to?

In the time I have been AWOL the hard work over the last 22 months has started to pay off and I have had an amazing June and July. June was named the month of epic wins. And July is turning out to be as epically fabulous in its own ways. But there has had to be some compromise.

Here is some of what I’ve been up to:

  • Completed 7 (out of 8) weeks of a new project developing Masters qualification e-learning for Frontline, who train social workers in a 2-year programme. They have had to quickly react to the pandemic and move their training online. It’s been a great project to be on, it will be a shame to finish this one!
  • I have had my contract with Bitville extended and picked up some more work for them, developing content that I understand little of in the communications field.🤯 Head is pickled.
  • Written a guest blog post for the eLearning network, on Maintaining business relationships without face to face contact.
  • I have been developing a course of my own to sell as passive income, helping businesses move their training online. I took part in 27andahalf’s Month of Massive Action to get this underway. Completing it by the end of June was a goal too ambitious, and I will be lucky to get it done by August, but it’s ticking away in the background.
  • I’ve bloomin’ well-done video(s)…I’m still not sure how that happened. I completed the Videotastic course with Becky Holmes – anyone wanting to use video in any way, get on this! A new round has just started.
  • I have a secret project in the works with a Twitter contact who saw something I had done, and it sparked an idea for a collaboration. This one is major exciting!
  • I completed my #write52 journey – 52 blog posts in 52 weeks! (And took a well-deserved week off blogging last week, woo!)
  • I also won some more e-learning work after being approached by someone who had seen my stuff on LinkedIn and thought our values lined up well. So a test project starts straight after finishing my current project.
  • One of my fave content/graphics customers has asked me to create an e-learning programme for them (major hurrah for this one!) and a written proposal is underway-ish. (Promise I will get cracking next week if you are looking guys) 😂
  • I have written article no 5 for the Communicator journal. Expanding on my previous article about moving online, this one is about ‘Translating face-to-face materials into online or blended learning’. Coming soon to a LinkedIn post near you 😆
  • I have read Survival Skills for Freelancers (very apt as there is a lot about burnout in there) by Sarah Townsend. A good read for any freelancer!
  • I attended the eLN Virtual Coffee Morning and numerous webinars.
  • I had a chat with someone in the USA about potentially being involved in a great project I have been watching grow for years. He saw a tweet of mine about how much I love the project and wanted to chat about my ideas.
  • It is looking like I have the go-ahead for a small e-learning project which has been loitering in the background for months, to test if it is a viable idea with the potential to then produce a suite of modules.
  • And because this wouldn’t be a blog of mine without mention of the divas…3 weeks ago the new princess manor house came and I have spent a LOT of time settling the bunnies into their new home, and (mostly in the rain at midnight) teaching them how to jump safely off the built-in levels when they have got stuck. Fecks sake. You wouldn’t think it was so hard to just go back down the way you came…but what do I know? The things I do for them.


Ooft. I’m going to need a serious amount of Prosecco and biscuits to get to the end of all that.

 

But there has to be a compromise

In amongst all of this, a couple of weeks ago I was successful in securing an additional role as a Senior Learning Design for another company and started last week. But after a week of my legs frantically paddling below the surface, feeling overwhelmed and stressed, I have had to admit that this was one extra piece of work too far.

It is a project which is great experience in the area I ultimately want to be working in so even though I knew I already felt overloaded I figured the stress and long hours would be worth it. I would work it all out. However, I have had to admit defeat. Adit there are limits.

And it took some serious guts to admit that defeat, especially as I hate letting people down and am rubbish at asking for help. But the timing is just impossible, and for once I am listening to my head and my body. (And my dad).

 

3 tips for dealing with overwhelm

Though I am not yet out of the overwhelm and have some actions to take in filtering work, there are some things I have certainly picked up the last few weeks. If you are feeling overwhelmed right now give these 3 things a try:

1. Focus on one thing at a time

It might sound obvious to some, but when you have numerous clients and conflicting priorities this can really lead to stress when you’re an anxious antelope at the best of times.

Write a prioritised (and realistic!) list of what you are aiming to get done today, and just focus on one at a time. Maybe even start with the biggest, most challenging. When you find your mind wandering back to the other tasks lined up, bring it back to focus on what you are doing right now. I felt so much better for getting the biggest ticked off and then could see the way through the rest. Worry about the others when you get to them.

2. Stop trying to guess/read your client’s mind

I always presume work will be wanted earlier than I can offer, for less money, etc so I had a habit of dropping my costs and moving things around to squeeze them in earlier, to make customers happy even if it meant I was exhausted and had no time for myself. This is a bad habit I am trying very hard to crack. Even if this has meant I have had to say that I cannot fit something in for x amount of weeks/months. It is better that the client has to wait and you do a good job than rush it and do a half-assed effort.

So I have told people I cannot schedule them in right away – and surprise, surprise, the world hasn’t ended. The ones that know your worth will be happy to wait. To soften the blow with one customer I have offered a couple of hours consultancy in the meanwhile so they can at least get a few things started themselves and show the project is making a start.

3. Get tapping that noggin

I am a huge skeptic of all that ‘woo’ stuff. However, I have recently been doing a course in which EFT tapping was introduced, and I have to say, I like it. It just makes you take that step back for a moment and reassess things, to get out of your head, and basically talk to yourself (which I am pro at), until you reach a resolution or the anxiety starts to ease. It was doing this process that made me see how I needed to concentrate on one specific task first that was causing a lot of my stress. Look it up and give it a try!