How to Get Back on Track When Everything Around You Implodes

Usually the thought of how to get back on track doesn’t occur when you’re in the midst of a lousy situation. Instead, you’re usually channeling Nancy Kerrigan and screaming, “Why, why, why???” And maybe you’re doing this with a mixture of tears and anger and laughter and anxiety and feel like surely you’re about to go mad. Ever been in one of those moods, hmmm?

This is what I’ve been experiencing since the morning of March 8th. I’m writing this on April 2nd. The negative part of me is saying, “You’ve been dealing with this crap for a month!” The positive part of my brain is saying, “It’s only been three weeks. And a half.”

On the evening of March 7th, my new website design began its migration to the public eye. I knew the website would be down for a few hours during the transfer, which is why I asked for an evening migration. Since March 8th, there have been a slew of problems to deal with:

*Nobody on my team could log in to the admin panel. This is a problem if you want to have control of your website. Fortunately, it was resolved within a day.

*Only my new pages transferred over correctly; the 100+ old pages which contained SEO juice showed up either blank or with jumbled text. This is a major problem because these pages have been given to prospective clients and meeting planners, and scheduled in social media posts for the upcoming year. The promotion for my new book has been put on hold. When people land on these pages and see nothing or a mess, they’ll leave in an instant instead of sticking around to find out more about how I can help them with their productivity.

*On mobile devices, the first item that appears on my website is a blurred logo. The next item that appears when you scroll is a blurry photo of a guy at a podium. As society migrates away from desktops and onto mobile devices, this first impression is a major strike against my business.

*From March 20 – 29, my website experienced the “red screen of death” because Google Chrome labeled it as a deceptive website. This not only prevented people from going to my website, but it also generated messages from the many caring people in my life. While I’m so grateful to them for taking the time to let me know, responding to them added to my workload.

And those are just the major items.

There. I’ve vented. And now it’s time to figure out how to get back on track. In this situation, getting back on track is not a one-time kumbaya session. It is something that needs to happen multiple times per day, which is how often I find something else wrong with my website.

You might not be dealing with a website, but perhaps it’s an ongoing situation in your work life or personal life. So, how to get back on track despite crap happening?

Focus on the positive.

I know, it sounds so cliché, but if you wallow in negativity, your mind won’t get clear enough to figure out what next steps to take. The mental slow-down perpetuates when the negativity is allowed to win. The positive in this case is that I’m learning new website building skills, and in my haste to rebuild missing pages, I’m finally learning to cut back on verbiage since society doesn’t read as much today anyway. Another positive is that I was reminded of how many good people I have in my life, folks who cared enough to express their concern when they saw that red screen.

Cut off the source.

If you can pinpoint the source of the problems, then you can deal with the cause instead of merely slapping Band-Aids on all of the symptoms. Part of the source of some of my website’s ills was that my web design guy added and deleted items without the knowledge of my webhost/security guy. Each time I pointed out a problem, they each set about solving it. What they did would cancel each other out and perpetuate the problem or create new ones. Once I realized this was happening, I asked the web designer to clear additions and deletions with the security dude to make sure they were both on the same page. The red screen of death disappeared.

Handle the issue with humor.

You’ll go nuts if you’re stressed out 24/7, so you’ve got to inject some humor into the situation at some point just to relax for a bit. Of course, when your income dries up for a month, and there’s no prospective income in the pipeline because of everything that’s happening, this is easier said than done. But it must be done if you’re going to clear your mind enough to think about what to do next. When – in the midst of the red screen phase – I spoke to a group of 125 who I was under contract to provide resources to be digitally delivered, I cracked a joke about how their resources wouldn’t be on time (ha-ha, my specialty is time management) because Google Chrome and I weren’t getting along. While I was so irritated that my integrity might be called into question because I couldn’t deliver what I promised by the deadline, I was able to forgive myself because they could forgive me; they understood and gave an empathetic chuckle about the situation.

Decide on the quickest quality fix.

What’s the first step you can take that will alleviate the biggest pain point? What’s the next step? And the next? Lay this out in a list specifying the solutions, the timeline and who’s responsible for carrying this out. I created a spreadsheet in Google Drive with a tab for each person who’s involved. Each tab contains in order of priority the tasks that need to be completed in order to get the website functioning. This helps to prevent us from stepping on each other’s toes, and everyone understands who needs to do what in which order.

Allow yourself to express your emotions when you’re stressed. But don’t let it consume you. Throw that tantrum, then begin dissecting your plan to get back on track. The faster you lay out your plan and get everyone on board, the sooner your stress levels will lower. And then you can return to your happy, productive self.

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