Staying calm in startup life like in this beautiful pictureThings can be hectic in the world of startups and small business. Trying to meet a myriad of demands with limited resources can be stressful, even overwhelming at times. And sometimes it's easy to be frustrated when the end result isn't quite what you hoped it might be. At times like these, it can be helpful to step back and examine the ways that you might be able to improve the way you're doing things; after all, if you trust the process, the results will come. Here are a few steps that I've found helpful in dealing with everyday pressures.

  1. Focus on one thing at a time. If your'e anything like me, there's a strong temptation to try and get everything done, all at once. You have four emails open, each with two sentences written, in addition a dozen browser tabs on a dozen sites. Tring to get everything done results in nothing getting done. Try to prioritize your tasks for the day or week, and tackle them in that order, else you end up with a bunch of half-completed assignments.

  2. Stay organized. In keeping with prioritizing your tasks, staying organized will go a long way towards optimizing your efficiency. And it doesn't have to be the same organization methods that others use. Some people prefer to work out of online calendars and task managers, while others are able to work off the top of their heads with remarkable clarity and recall. Some prefer a system of post-it notes, while I have mastered a system around notes written on stacks of loose-leaf paper. And if all of these sound less than useful, that's quite alright. Experiment with different systems and methods until you find what's right for you.

  3. Proofread twice, publish once. If I had a dollar for everytime that something I worked on had a typo of some sort in it, I would be sending you this missive from a warm beach somewhere. You can be a champion speller and still find that you've hit a wrong key somewhere or left out a word entirely. Spellcheck can be a lifesaver to avoid spelling mistakes, but it doesn't always catch words used out of context or in the wrong case. If you have someone you're working with, ask if they'll take a couple minutes to look over what you wrote. You might be surprised at the mistakes you've missed.

  4. Try to stay healthy (and sane). There's a strong compulsion to pour all of your energy and focus into your business, especially if you're the owner. But it's important that you take care of yourself as well as your company. No matter how many hours you put in every day, take time out to relax and get in some exercise. Your body will feel better, and the mental break will help keep you from getting burned out. Eating well is equally important to keeping you sharp. As delicious as cookies are (and make no mistake, they are delicious), a poor diet in combination with little physical activity will have tou feeling run down in no time.

  5. Don't panic! Problems and mistakes can feel huge in the moment, but it's important to keep perspective. No matter who you are, you have a lot of other things going for you. Even if your business went belly up tomorrow (though I certanly don't hope it does!), you have friends and family that care about you, which is worth more than any business ever could be. As Clarence Oddbody reminded George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life, "No man is a failure who has friends." So whenever you feel downtrodden by a mistake or a setback, just remember that you have that in common with the rest of us.

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