15 In living

Saying No To Overwhelm

Time has been flying by and I completely forgot to tell you about something exciting I’m participating in this month! A little while ago, Hilary from Dean Street Society asked me to be a part of what she’s calling the “Happy Hour Blog Tour“—30 days of interviews and discussions among bloggers to start the conversation about her new book The 4-Part Entrepreneur Cocktail. I’m so honored to be included in this!

Yesterday Becca from The Dabblist shared some lessons learned, and tomorrow we’ll hear from The Yogipreneur. But right now, I’m going to share about part 4 of the cocktail: saying no to overwhelm (a feeling I’m super prone to!)…

blog-header-2

Q: How do you find the hours in your week for blogging? What does it usually mean saying no to in order to keep up with your blog?

If I’m completely honest, I never feel like there is enough time to get everything done that I want to—blogging and otherwise. I consider myself to be a rather efficient person, yet there is always more I could do for the blog, more chores I could do before I go to bed, more freelance projects I could pick up, more coffee dates I could have to maintain my sanity and avoid being a complete hermit (joking…sort of). Chores are always the first to be cut from my priority list, followed by unnecessary social events, and then freelance projects. I definitely make my blog (and now Nellie!) my priority aside from my family and my close friends.

Q: Have you ever felt exhausted or overwhelmed by the pace you’ve set for yourself, your own expectations, the requests of others when it comes to your blog? What would you go back and tell yourself about those times?

YES! As I mentioned above, overwhelmed is a feeling I get regularly. I love to be busy and involved and productive, and sometimes I say “yes” too many times and don’t realize it until it’s too late. Something I’m learning—slowly, but surely—is that not every good opportunity needs to be seized right now. And at the same time, some opportunities are worth stretching myself for. It’s all about balance, which is tough to achieve. I’m okay with taking on a lot of work as long as it doesn’t negatively impact my family. If I find I’m constantly distracted by work when my husband comes home, I know I have a problem on my hands!

Q: What are the sacrifices you’ve made for your blog and business? Did you anticipate them starting out? What would you go back and tell yourself before you hit publish that first day?

The most obvious sacrifice, of course, is income. I do make money through my blog, but not much—and that’s not entirely surprising to me. In all honesty, I’m more surprised that I can make money through my blog than by the small amount that actually ends up in my bank account. I know that as I continue to expand this platform, more opportunities to generate income will surface, and while I welcome that, I’m in no rush. Quality content is what’s most important to me at this point.

If I could go back in time, I might tell myself to be strategic. Blog strategy is something I’ve learned through lots and lots of trial and error. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, there is certainly value to starting something with intentionality. I began blogging right out of college as a creative outlet, and never imagined that this blog would ever be what it is. Now that I’m embarking on a new online venture with Nellie, I’m definitely choosing to learn from the mistakes I’ve made along the way here!

Q: What are the hardest parts that you feel like no one ever talks about? What are the honest truths you want to share to be authentic, but perhaps hold back sometimes because you don’t want to seem like a Debby Downer, complainer or ungrateful, yet you would share over drinks with a fellow blogger one-on-one?

The hardest thing for me, I think, is that a lot of people either don’t understand what I do or really don’t care. Respect is really important to me, and I’ve had to learn to overcome the reality that there are people who don’t really respect my work. “Blogging” sounds so silly and frivolous—and while yes, sometimes it is, there’s something really powerful in getting to create content that inspires, evokes thought, or makes someone giggle. Sadly that’s not how everyone else sees it. Oh—and I don’t know if there is any other job out there where people think it’s okay to ask about how much money you make! I’m obviously open about my small earnings with you here, but it’s sort of an awkward thing to be asked about by a stranger out in public.

Okay, now it’s your turn! Regardless of your profession, how do you keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by work and life responsibilities?

15 Comments

  • Reply
    Brenna Kowall
    November 19, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Natalie, I agree with everything you say here! I, too, struggle with finding time to check off everything on my to-do list. I’ve realized that when I don’t focus on my priorities, I get stressed about not accomplishing what’s important, and when I’m stressed, I don’t get much of anything done! I’ve recently started making more realistic goals for myself, so that I’m not disappointed when I can’t get everything done. Also, I think it’s important to set aside time for yourself to just relax and not do anything at all. That’s the key!

    • Reply
      Natalie Lynn Borton
      November 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      Yes, you’re so right about setting aside time to relax. It’s hard to do when we have a lot on our plate, but it’s absolutely a must!

  • Reply
    Brenna Kowall
    November 19, 2013 at 9:44 am

    And a little yoga every now and then helps too! :)

  • Reply
    Sarah Sweeney
    November 19, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Thanks so much for sharing! As someone who is just getting into blogging, it’s encouraging to hear honest, real answers from someone you admire and respect.

  • Reply
    Meri Sue Ramsey
    November 19, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    I love this post because I feel that so many of us struggle with it day in and day out. First of all, keeping a calendar is a first. I take time every Sunday to strategize the coming week with tasks for each day and a couple of weekly goals. This really helps my mind to be de-cluttered as I feel that is the biggest thing to tackle. The next thing is starting each day out with quiet time. Just slowing my pace down, ENJOYING a cup of coffee, making a healthy breakfast and getting inspired. That’s super important and will help the pace for the rest of the day. The next thing (I continually learn this) is to be present. Be present in whatever task is at hand. Don’t be at 3:00pm if it’s only 11:00am. Invest in the moment, give it your all and if you don’t make it to that next thing, at least your productivity and quality is top notch rather than mediocre and rushed. It’s not the end of the world if you have to rearrange your schedule in order to put your best out at whatever is expected at that moment.

  • Reply
    Alicia
    November 20, 2013 at 7:07 am

    You have such good perspective on this. It can feel selfish sometimes to say no to someone or something, but sometimes it’s necessary to do so in order to maintain quality of life. I’m all about quality over quantity!

  • Reply
    Hilary Rushford | Dean Street Society
    November 21, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Natalie I am so thrilled the Happy Hour Blog Tour introduced me to you!

    I love your point about blog strategy. Goodness, going back I realize that I spent way too much time on the wrong things my first year or so. I share in the book about how I wish I’d invested my time differently, how easily I was swayed by what I saw other people doing, or advice others gave or modeled that didn’t really apply to me. I especially love when people like you have a second venture they embark on, and can use their experience so acutely to make different choices. I feel like it makes you even more clear and thus you can be a better teacher and example to others. :)

    Thank you so much for being a part of this conversation, sweet girl!

    with grace & gumption,
    Hilary & Dean Street Society

  • Reply
    Ashlee Chu
    November 24, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    This is a great post, full of ideas and tips. Blogging can sometimes feel like a chore or the first priority, depending on how we rank it. You gave honesty that I feel like many of us bloggers face when it comes to time, income, and freelancing. Thanks for sharing, Natalie.

  • Reply
    Marianne
    January 24, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    I so feel like I can relate to this! I am struggling with blog/business/full time job/motherhood overwhelm and every one makes it look so easy! I’m not glad that you’re also overwhelmed, but it’s also good to know it’s not just me. Thanks for the great ideas.

  • Leave a Reply