I remember how I felt when the recession took hold in October of 2008. The business at one company I worked for was cut by 40% in a single day. Other businesses were laying people off, and unemployment skyrocketed. It was right at the end of an election cycle, and the television and radio were forecasting more doom and more gloom.
It was incredibly stressful. Some people haven’t fully recovered from that stress and are still gripped by fear. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the crisis.
This week one reader sent me a note asking me how you remain productive in a time of crisis. I have an answer to this because I know exactly how he feels, and I have worked through the challenge of being productive in a time of crisis a number of times myself.
Make an exhaustive list of what has your attention
The real challenge in gaining control in a time of crisis is that there are countless things vying for your attention. The massive number of problems and challenges you are faced with is what overwhelms you. The way you regain your power is to take everything on your mind and make them objects.
Take out a legal pad and a pen (don’t do this on a computer, it doesn’t seem to have the same effect). Write down everything that you are worried about and everything that you are afraid will happen. Write down everything you have to do. The physical act of getting them out of your mind and onto paper massively reduces that feeling of overwhelm; now you have everything you fear and everything you need to do as objects in front of you.
Determine your longer term goal
The way to move out of crisis and chaos is to pick a direction and start moving towards it. You need to determine where you want to be when the crisis is over.
There are some things on your list that you can’t do anything about. I remember thinking that I couldn’t do anything about the economy, but I could position myself and my company to take advantage when the economy turned around. This gave me my direction, and I could you use to make decisions.
Determine your priorities now
Once you can see all of your challenges, all of your fears, and all of the things you need to do on paper in front of you, you can start determining your priorities.
You can’t do everything right now. Some of the challenges on your list are going to take time to deal with. But you have to deal with some of the other challenges right now in order to survive the crisis. Put things in the right order.
So the trick is to rewrite your list in order of priority, turing every outcome you need into a list of actions you need to take in order of importance. This provides you with a sense of control, and it eliminates the feeling of overwhelm. You can see what needs done, and you have determined how you are going to move forward through the storm.
I had to rewrite my list a dozen times, but my goal never changed: survive and be in a position to take advantage of the turn around. The direction didn’t change, but the shifting priorities and actions did. Whenever it was necessary, I rewrote my list before I went to sleep at night.
This will help you gain control in a crisis, and it will also help you if you are just feeling overwhelmed right now.
Hit reply to send me your thoughts, ideas, and stories. If you know someone who feels overwhelmed right now, share this newsletter with them. If they want to sign up, point them to: http://www.thesalesblog.com/newsletter.
Do good work this week, and I’ll see you back here next week.