Crunch Time: How To Keep Your Head Up When You’re Under Pressure

by Sarah on September 15, 2011

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Inevitably, despite your best efforts, you’re going to hit a crunch time with your business.

Last week, not only did I have two deadlines breathing down my neck, but family issues came up that demanded my attention.  And to top it off a raccoon started eating chicken dinners from our chicken coop each night.

Suffice it to say, along with the family demands, I didn’t plan to be up late at night trying to stop the chicken coop slaughter.

Nonetheless, with only 4 hours sleep tailing 6 hours the night before I still had to tackle a big project.

The Robert Frost line, “I have many miles to go before sleep – many miles to go before I sleep” coursed through my head.

So with one of my favorite healthy home biz standby’s – sleep – on hold, I had to ramp up my other coping strategies to get me through the next few days.

So here’s what I did:

Crunch Time Tip #1

Prioritize. I cut down what I was working on to the bare necessities so I could keep my sleepy brain focused on the task at hand. I shut off Hootsuite and its twitter streams and kept my email off as much as possible.

Homewise, I didn’t worry much about the laundry, kept dinners pretty simple (lots of pasta variations) and overlooked the living room mess.

Crunch Time Tip #2

Eat strategically. Instinctively when I’m tired, I reach for carbs and sweets. We don’t keep caffeine in the household but I remember the days of the espresso machine all too well.

However, all these crutches are just that – crutches. They put you on a roller coaster ride of blood sugar and caffeine rush high’s, only to tear you down for the serious low’s that follow. And you end up craving them even more.

So I cut down carbs dramatically and upped the fresh veggie eating, protein and the occasional fruits. Hummus became my best friend. I was amazed at how a salad at lunchtime picked me up and gave me enough clarity to keep going.

Crunch Time Tip #3

Hydrate. When you drink water, you give your body one of the essential things it needs to run in top gear. Better hydration means better blood flow. This means your cells get better delivery of nutrients and get rid of waste more efficiently as well.

As a result, you feel perkier even if you’re short on sleep.  I alternated big glasses of cool water with iced decaf green tea. And occasionally a little orange juice in some seltzer water.

Crunch Time Tip #4

Move. Despite my fatigue, I kept up my morning exercise schedule and made sure I took movement breaks throughout the day. Each time I did a few pushups or squeezed in a couple rounds of jump rope, I woke up and was able to keep writing with clarity.

Crunch Time Tip #5

Rest. I know I know, I said I didn’t get much sleep. And I couldn’t afford to step it up much. But I did take a couple power naps – no more than 30 minutes – when I really felt my mind shutting down.

Crunch Time Tip #6

Get help. For most of us our home business is a family affair, integrated with our home lives in many ways. So when the crunch is on, it’s a good time to ask for little extra help from the rest of the family.

My husband, who already shares much of the household work, stepped it up even more.  And I asked my kids to help out a little more with breakfast prep, farm chores and other cleanup duties.

If you have other forms of help – like a VA – it may be a good time to add a few tasks to their to-do list.

Crunch Time Tip #6

Relate. This is my biggest challenge. When I feel the pressure to keep business going, I assume everyone sees that same priority. And it’s easy to expect everyone to put everything else on hold.

But you can’t and they can’t.

Just because it’s crunch time – or in fact because of it – you need to take those few minutes to really pay attention to your family.  Sure, I had to hole up in my office a little more and I felt edgy beyond belief. But as I discovered much to my dismay, when I didn’t take a few moments to check in with my children and spouse, I ended up with bigger demands on my time later on as everyone’s nerves became frazzled and simmering issues began to boil over.

Take a few strategic moments to shift the energy – play a little basketball, snatch a little time to talk with your spouse about what’s on their mind, put on the radio and listen to some music together. But shift the mood a little. You’ll feel better too.

Crunch Time Tactics Pay Off

These strategies paid off. I managed to meet my deadlines, producing magalog copy the marketing director who hired me is pretty excited to run. And I secured a nice big job based on the website evaluation report I had written up as the clock ticked.

On the home front, things look good as well. To a large part due to the ways my husband stepped up, chaos did not take hold.  And despite my initial negligence, thanks to refocusing my perspective, the family tensions that had started to crop up did not become the monsters they could have.

Finally, even with a nasty cold sweeping through my household, I stayed cold free.

And the chickens? Well, let’s just say that after a few late night vigils in between writing stints, they’re safe from predation now.

What are your crunch time strategies? Share them so we can all get through these unavoidable pressure-cooker moments and come out healthier on the other side.

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