It’s day one, post-holidays. You’re back to work in your creative business. The OOO autoresponder is off, the kids are heading back to school (if not yet then soonish), and it’s time to dive back into your regular rhythms.
Only, there’s a catch.
While the business rhythms you had in place in December for things like sales, marketing, and communications may have served you well then, the flurry of activity you return to after the holidays may feel overwhelming, and your rhythms might be a bit out of whack!
It can feel nearly impossible to get back into the swing of things as you try to hit the ground running in the new year.
Not only are you responding to the enormous list of emails you missed since you stepped away from your Macbook, but you’re also trying to integrate new ideas, tasks, and plans into your business so you can start to work toward your goals for the new year.
It’s enough to drive anyone a bit loopy!
During this season, it’s especially important to take some time to adjust your business rhythms in a way that serves you best.
For most entrepreneurs, this means getting a plan in place that will help you wrangle the sheer volume of tasks being piled on so you can get and stay caught up instead of feeling like you’re constantly one step behind.
While every business is different, and each person will have unique needs, I have found these 3 approaches to be extremely successful in helping creative business owners like YOU kick off the year on a positive note, reset or replace your business rhythms, and confidently get a handle on those looming Q1 responsibilities without feeling like you’re drowning in an insurmountable ocean of to-do items!
Before you can tackle those new year’s goals and resolutions, you need to make sure the essential pieces of your business are taken care of and running smoothly.
Rhythms help support all of your business systems so they are happening consistently and effectively. While systems in business tell us what needs to be done (and how), rhythms dictate how often we tend to these systems. One of the strongest factors in how sustainable your business will be is your consistency. You could have the best system in the WORLD, but if you aren’t using it on a regular basis, it cannot serve you well!
When we come back from any vacation or time off, the OOO autoresponder may have allowed us to maintain boundaries, but it doesn’t put everything on hold 100%. And, once the holiday season comes to a close, you may feel bombarded by needs from your clients, team members, and vendors.
Likewise, you may have new priorities in mind for the new year, and the rhythms that worked in the past may not fit your needs now.
Either way, let’s get a grip on your business rhythms with these 3 approaches so that you can choose the one that will help you step into the new year with ease and efficiency!
The first option is all about playing the long game! In some cases, you may need to adjust your rhythms not just to catch up but to better suit your current needs, schedule, goals, and priorities. This is a gradual approach to shifting your rhythms!
If you’re a parent you’ll totally get this analogy, but even if you aren’t it makes a lot of sense!
Parents of young kids know that any time you mess with a sleep schedule, your approach needs to be intentional and steady (hello, daylight savings!).
I just heard all the parents ((including myself)) collectively, “ugh!”
The parenting experts never advise adjusting a schedule more than 15 minutes at a time. So if bedtime was at 7 pm, but is now at what feels like 6 pm due to a time change, it’s never in your best interest to abruptly shift to this new bedtime (unless you want to endure lots of tears and pushback). Instead, you can gradually move bedtime 15 minutes earlier each day until your kiddo has adapted to the new time.
As you’re adjusting your rhythms to match your current business needs, you can take a similar approach!
If you want to adjust a rhythm to speed it up or shift when it’s happening, start by looking at where you ultimately want it to be and then work backward.
For example, let’s say you are a content writer. You typically write one blog post for your client each month, but on your last planning call, you set a new goal with your client. Together, you’ve decided in the new year you will transition from monthly to weekly blogs. Jumping from 1 blog per month to 4 per month (4x’s the amount of work and content) may feel jarring, abrupt, and, frankly, daunting… especially all at once!
Instead, you can apply the Baby Sleep Method to gradually work towards your new goal. This might look like first getting to a point where you are able to consistently publish blogs biweekly, and then eventually work your way up to weekly blogs.
This is a marathon-like approach that can go on as long as you need which means the chances of burning out are low because you’re not overburdening yourself.
To get a more sustainable rhythm back on track, you may need to use the double-up approach. This involves focusing on one rhythm such as your finances, operations, or sales. It’s not a walk, and it’s not quite a sprint. Instead, the double-up method is like a consistent jog.
While you double up on that one rhythm, everything else in your business should stay consistent.
This can be successful, but depending on the type of work or task, it may feel a bit crazy. Use your judgment here to find what feels realistic for you.
To do it, you’ll double up one specific rhythm for 1 or 2 cycles to get ahead. This will likely mean you’ll need to double up twice the work you would normally do on the front end, to get back to your regular rhythm moving forward.
In order to successfully get twice the amount of work done, I find that time blocking can help you be more efficient. You can often eliminate the time or production loss that task switching often brings (while benefiting from the grace and flexibility that comes with working CONSISTENTLY ahead)!
As you implement this approach, lean on task buckets to help you stay focused and avoid wasting time. You probably already have some sort of general schedule for specific tasks like editing, sending invoices, or creating client deliverables. On the days you usually do a certain type of task, commit to doubling it (ex. writing two outlines when you usually do one).
I also recommend using time blocking in these situations. Time blocking involves working on one specific bucketed task for a predetermined, uninterrupted amount of time. When you double up during a time block, you’ll want to work twice as hard and setting a time limit can help you work strategically within those boundaries.
COO Tip: This should be a short-term solution. If you overdo it, you may put yourself on the fast track to burnout!
While slow and steady may help you when it comes to the long game, and a light jog will get you to a goal slightly faster, sometimes you need that hare-like energy to get you up to speed and out of the weeds! Like it or not, often it’s best to just rip off the band-aid, as daunting and temporarily uncomfortable as that may sound!
This approach is all about sprinting to the finish line. The pace definitely isn’t sustainable for the long-term, just like sprinting a marathon wouldn’t be advisable, but it’s the fastest way to get to a short-term goal!
If you decide this approach is necessary, commit to yourself that starting NOW you are going to 3x, 5x, or even 10x that rhythm, doing it as fast as you can, to get to your goal as quickly as possible.
Once you get to where you want to be, you can settle into a more sustainable rhythm that focuses more on maintaining what you’ve achieved or set up.
While this approach is often tougher to get on board with at first, it may be necessary for certain tasks that require you to roll up your sleeves so you can finally move the needle and get sh&% done!
For example: Instead of gradually working your way from monthly to weekly blogs with the Baby Sleep or Double-Up Methods, the Rip-Off The Band-Aid approach would be a more aggressive way of reaching your goal even faster. Maybe instead of pacing out the blog content, you decide to put your head down and write all four blogs for that month in one week. This may be stressful during that intense week, but if you’re successful, you’ll be several weeks ahead of schedule which can allow you to settle into a more manageable writing rhythm moving forward.
It’s temporary discomfort for long-term ease.
You may even need to pump yourself up for this approach, commit to “go time” and acknowledge it may feel really hard for a few cycles until you’re able to get up to speed.
These seasons of hustle can be worth it (and create space for seasons of rest in the future) if you approach them purposefully and with eyes wide open!
A final tip before you go ahead and get your creative business back into the swing of things! When introducing, adjusting, or changing rhythms in business it’s important not to attempt to take on everything at once! Instead, follow these four simple steps:
Without these key steps, you’ll find yourself on a speeding train, bound to crash into overwhelm, burnout, and straight-up confusion. But with them supporting you and your business, you’ll be able to pivot and thrive as your priorities shift and your responsibilities grow.
Rhythms in business can be a blessing AND a curse.
As you reset rhythms in the new year, you’ll probably find the rhythms you set in the past are tough to get out of! As frustrating as that may be at the moment, it’s in fact the MAGIC of rhythms in business.
Once they are firmly established it’s tough to fall out of rhythm because the momentum is powerful! When you have RIGHT-FOR-YOU rhythms in place, this momentum is great, but if you’ve outgrown them, it can feel like you’re battling a raging current trying to swim upstream! If you want to adjust or replace your outdated rhythms, you’ll need to actively disrupt and replace them with new ones that serve you better.
If you’re looking for support in creating, adjusting, or replacing rhythms, I have created a ton of resources around this exact topic. And to help you out I’ve pulled them all together into a “Rhythms in Business” library to support you.
Check it out below!
Happy learning and implementing!