How to Stay Productive When You’re Overwhelmed with Guest Shelly Rees

In this episode Angie and April discuss how to overcome overwhelm and stay focused with Shelly Rees

how to stay productive

Grow with Angie and April: A Podcast for Teacherpreneurs
Grow with Angie and April: A Podcast for Teacherpreneurs
How to Stay Productive When You're Overwhelmed with Guest Shelly Rees

As a teacherpreneuer there are so many things to focus on while growing your TpT business. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose focus. Today we’re talking about how to stay productive, and we’re continuing the conversation in our Mastermind group. Head over there to share what works for you and hear what others are saying:

April and I were excited to bring Shelly Rees back as a guest on the Grow With Us Podcast. She was a guest way back in episode 10 when we were live at the 2018 TpT conference. She’s a teacher seller and a productivity guru. On this episode, she shared some incredibly valuable tips on how to stay productive and beat that feeling of overwhelm that we all experience at times.

If you have been trying to figure out how to stay focused, this is the episode for you!

There’s always going to be a little overwhelm

I describe my overwhelm as a sliding scale. Sometimes it’s more and other times it’s not as bad, but there’s always a bit of it there. Remember, you may always feel a little bit of that overwhelm. It’s not that you need to eliminate it all the way, but you do need to learn how to manage it and stay focused. What you don’t want is to get so overwhelmed that it causes you to freeze and not do anything.

Shelly is experienced at this. She has two facets to  her business. The first is her TpT store. The second side is helping other teacher authors. She admits that it can be overwhelming, but she has found the right strategies to help her stay productive through it.  Here is what she recommends you do to stay focused:

1. Do a brain dump

Shelly suggests that you get a big piece of paper and just start writing everything down that’s rolling around in your head. This includes the big and little things. Write down all the projects you’re working on and tasks that you need to do. It doesn’t have to be business related. It could be something like “clean the kitchen counter”. Just get it all out.

2. Prioritize it

Once you have it all out of your head and down on paper, it’s time to prioritize it. List them as most important to least important.

Or, if you’re really feeling overwhelmed, Shelly recommends that you list them from the smallest task to the biggest task. This allows you to get some easy wins by completing and crossing off the small tasks first. This helps to build momentum and allows you to be more productive.

3. Keep a list of tiny tasks

These are tasks that will only take you 15 minutes or less to complete. It could be something like creating a new pin.

Shelly keeps this list on hand at all times. Then, when she finds that she has a small chunk of time to use, she can do something productive instead of scroll through Instagram or Facebook.

We’re all guilty of wasting those little chunks of time. One of the biggest excuses that Shelly hears from TpTers that are still working in the classroom is that they don’t have enough time. But if you work on focusing during those small chunks of time then you’ll see that you actually have more time than you realized. Or, if you need a little motivation to help see this, look at the breakdown on your phone of your screen time. You’ll most likely see that you are wasting more time than you realize on things like social media.

How to stay productive by organizing your time

While the three steps above can go a long way in helping you stay productive, it’s also helpful to keep the big picture in mind when organizing your time. Here’s how Shelly does it:

  • Choose a word of the year. For 2019, her word was “intentional”. She wanted to be intentional about creating products and how she was using her time. She will choose a new word for 2020.
  • Plan 3 big goals. Once she has her word for the year, she chooses three big goals to focus on for the year.
  • Focus on a 6 month plan. To make it less overwhelming and more manageable, Shelly only focuses on creating a six month plan at a time instead of doing the entire year. This way if things shift and her direction changes during the year she can make adjustments without feeling like she failed. She chooses one goal for each month that aligns to her big three goals of the year.
  • Look at the month in front of you. When each new month starts, Shelly takes a closer took at the goal that she has set for it and plans what tasks need to get done.

The “Weekly One and Daily Three”

This is an idea that Shelly learned from the BizChix Podcast. You come up with one goal for the week and then three action items for each work day during that week that relate to the goal.

Every Sunday, she sits down and plans this out. She writes out her “weekly one” on the top of the page and then writes her three bullet point action items for each day.

Breaking it down like this helps you not to set unrealistic goals and plans for your week. Doing that is an easy way to feel defeated and overwhelmed. And, there’s something satisfying about writing it down and being able to cross off those items as you go.

Example: Weekly Goal: Working on Whole Grammar Unit

Shelly shared with us an example from her current plans so we could see how it works. it looks like this:

Weekly One: Continue working on unit (She’s in the middle of creating a big resource)

Daily Three:

  1. Finish 5th grade grammar lessons 7-9
  2. Get gift cards for giveaway promo coming up
  3. Schedule email for Saturday.

The smaller things

On the side of her weekly plan, she keeps a list of those smaller tasks that are waiting to be done. Then, when she has a day when she gets finished with her “daily three” early, she can start working through some of those smaller tasks.

Advice for TpTers that feel overwhelmed all the time

I’ll be honest, this probably isn’t the advice that you want to hear.

Stop making excuses and put your phone away.

Our phones are distracting with all their little notification sounds. That’s why Shelly recommends that you leave your phone in the other room when you’re working. She also believes this can help you to lower your anxiety levels as well.

Staying motivated through rewards

A good way to stay motivated when you are trying to keep yourself focused or when you’re working on a big project is to give yourself rewards. It could be a simple Starbucks run after writing that blog post that you’ve been putting off, or taking a mini-vacation when you wrap up that huge bundle you’ve been working on.

It’s important to take time for yourself and can help keep you motivated. Shelly even recommends that you include your rewards in your “daily three”. For example, she had decorating for Christmas listed as one of her “daily three” for the week.

TpT Focused Success Course

If you are interested in learning more from Shelly about how to stay focused and be more productive, check out her course TpT Focused Success.

In this course, she talks all about being focused and intentional as you grow your TpT business. And, for those that are looking to take it up a notch from there, she also runs a challenge group that is only open to her course members. It includes 8 video modules and access to both a Facebook group and a Tailwind Tribe.

Each month the group has a difference challenge. For example, this month they are focused on creating digital resources. She brought in an expert that talked about how to create them and now everyone is busy working on it. At the end of the month, there will be prizes for the challenge winners.

If you want to connect with Shelly further, you can find her on Instagram at @shelly.rees

If you want to continue talking productivity and staying focused hop on over to the mastermind group to continue the conversation.