Ever feel like you’re stuck in a whirlwind of stress and overwhelm as you hustle to get your proofreading business off the ground? It’s a struggle most of us face, and it usually leads to one of two things: either we freeze up or go into full-on panic mode, trying to do everything at once and ending up frazzled.

It doesn’t have to be that way though!

In this episode, I break down the same steps I take when I start feeling overwhelmed with everything I need to do so that I can focus, make progress, and, most importantly, enjoy the purpose behind having a business in the first place — living a life of freedom.

Ready to feel more confident, take control of your time and energy, and have a business you can be proud of? It all starts with knowing how to manage your emotions and develop smart focus habits.  It’s a powerful tool in business and in life. Listen in to learn how!

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Intro: This is The Proofreading Business Podcast with Elizabeth Wiegner. For more, visit TheProofreadingBusinessCoach.com.

Elizabeth Wiegner: When you just get back from vacation or taking a break or when you’re starting something new like learning how to be a transcript proofreader, do you get the same feeling that I do where you get so anxious that you have so much to do that you feel behind? How am I ever going to learn all these things? I’m never going to be what I need to be. It’s just so much to do. My brain is going a million miles an hour, and I’m just frazzled, and I’m not even enjoying this process of working on my business. Do you ever feel that way? My guess is you do because I get that feeling too.

So my husband, Jonathan, and I, we just got back from a vacation to Florida, and it was a wonderful time. It was so good being out on the beach and just having brain space to be able to think on my business and things that I wanted to do and changes I wanted to make for the better. And it all sounds great when you’re sitting there not having to work on it, right? You can make all these plans. But then when you get back and you have to actually implement those things, that’s when rubber hits the road, and you’ve got to get to work.

And so it was great on vacation. I get back and Monday when I logged in to start working, I just had this feeling of anxiety welling up inside my chest, like a lot of pressure, and my heart rate was high, and my brain was just going so fast, and I was thinking about all these things that I wanted to implement and start working on. And it was not a good feeling. I don’t like having that feeling.

I am my own boss so that I can enjoy my business rather than feel stressed out with it all the time. And so I did not appreciate that feeling coming back because I wanted to come back from vacation, and part of the things I was working on brainstorming was how to enjoy my business more so that my business supports the life that I want to have instead of my business running my life. That’s what I teach my students and my grads both. I’m always saying learn to be a good boss to yourself.

The point of having your transcript proofreading business is so that you can have fun with life. You don’t -- and be able to do what you want with life, to show up for the people and yourself like you want to to have the extra income that you want without feeling like you’re tied down and stressed all the time, which is kind of the feeling you have when you work your 9-to-5 and it’s very, you have to be there at a certain time. You have lunch at a certain time. You can’t clock out until a certain time, and you’re having to squeeze your life into a little bit in the morning, a little bit in the evening, and it’s just -- you’re not being able to show up how you want, let alone, I mean that doesn’t even mention your commutes, your coworkers, your bosses whom you may not appreciate working with, right?

And so having a business, part of me where I help coach my students and my grads is to create a business that you’re excited about. And I have to practice what I preach because if I’m not doing that, how can I sit and tell somebody else you have to do this, and then I, myself, don’t follow it?

So when I came back from vacation with great ideas to help me implement things, I suddenly started feeling really stressed again. And so I had to step back, assess where that was coming from, and start putting into place the things that I do when I start feeling that way because this is not an unusual feeling for me. I am very type A, very high-performing. I love to work, work-a-holic, that is for sure.

And sometimes that can be really good, but it also has some not-so-good parts where I have to rein those in to make that kind of personality type work for me instead of against me. And so I’ve had to put these practices that I’m going to talk about today on this podcast into -- I had to put these practices into practice, and I did that starting Monday.

And I can’t say that I still don’t feel that sense of, oh, I’ve got a lot to do, but it just considerably helped me slow down, focus, get things done, and I went on Monday morning from feeling frazzled and all over the place to being able to check off an extensive list that I got done on Monday morning and feel really good at the end of the day about stepping away and spending time with Jonathan and getting other things done than focusing on work or, in your case, focusing on learning a new skill.

So there’s two responses that you can have when you’re feeling that overwhelmed feeling of either coming back from a break, getting back into your studies, getting back into working again or when you’re starting something brand new like day one of learning how to be a transcript proofreader.

So those two responses are you can freeze up and don’t do anything. Just the thought of how much you have to do paralyzes you. You don’t want -- you can’t move. Maybe you want to move forward but just the ideas of everything that you have to work on, you just feel lost and overwhelmed, and it seems like there’s so much to do so why even start on it to begin with?

And it doesn’t make logical sense to feel that way, but that’s what our emotions -- sometimes our emotions aren’t very logical, are they? And we have to -- emotions are good. You have to have them, and you have to control them in order to be successful and have the life you want, right? Just letting your emotions run rampant will make sure that you don’t get anything done that you want.

So that feeling of freezing up and like I have so much to do that I’m just not going to do anything, that is very counterintuitive because you’re never going to get done what you need to. Your business is never going to get started if you don’t get started on it. If you just sit there and be like, oh, I really want it, but I’m so overwhelmed starting to work on it, you’re not going to get anywhere, right? And you’re not going to feel good about yourself, and it’s just not a fun place to be. So that’s one of the responses.

The other response is the total opposite where, instead of freezing up and not doing anything, you try to start doing all the things. So you’re -- and it’s a frantic way. It’s not that you’re just sitting down and getting them done. You’re frantically trying to do a million things at once because you’ve trying to keep up with your brain going.

So when that happens though, yes, it’s great that you’re taking action, but it’s not helpful action. Not all action is necessarily good action. It’s action that’s productive, and that’s what I’m going to talk about here in a second in this podcast. But when you’re frantically trying to do all the things, what happens then is you miss details. You overlook really important things that you need to be doing, important things that could help you do things better and more efficiently and also important things that actually help you get your business set up, your practice transcripts done, marketing to clients.

And you don’t do the things that you are able to do. Okay, you start on one thing, and then you move to the next because you thought of something else, and oh, then you think of something else and so you move to that kind of thing. You’re missing details as you’re doing that, and then you tend to -- not all the time but most of the times when you’re jumping from one thing to the next to the next and then coming back to them, and it’s in this frantic way of doing it, you tend to not do a great job on the things that you do get done.

Yes, you’re getting some things done, but at the end of the day, you feel like you have to go back and redo them because you miss details. They were sloppy. They just weren’t complete because your brain, your mind was so scattered going after that. And that tends to be -- I know I get frozen up, and I do have the tendency of like it’s so much I can’t even get started.

But my tendency tends to be more on the second response where I frantically am just trying to do all the things, and I think of one thing, and I start working on it, and it reminds me of another thing I need to go do. And so then I’m just dropping that and going to that, and then I have to come back.

And at the end of the day, I have my checklist that I’ve worked on a little bit of some of my checklist and then a million things that weren’t on it, but none of them got done. And that is an overwhelming feeling too because then I have to go pick up the pieces again and figure out where did I stop; what do I have to go fix? It’s just not a great feeling, is it? And I know if I’m that way, there’s got to be somebody that way with me too, so I’m sure you’re probably raising your hand, yes, that’s me. I hear you.

The other thing about frantically trying to do all the things and trying to be super protective while doing it frantically -- that’s my word of the day here for this -- is you don’t tend to think as well as you need to when you have this frantic, overwhelmed mindset. And this happens -- where you’re like you know -- if you were to sit down and calmly look at something and complete the task, you would be able to think through it. You would be able to be like, okay, let me look at my course material or let me look at my checklist. And okay, I’m not sure I understand this, so let me go dive, use my resources. Let me ask a question that actually helps get the answer that I need, helps me think through things.

That’s what happens when you slow down and think on things, but if you’re trying to do all the things and you’re feeling frantic about it, you tend to not think through things, which makes you -- and not just you; me too -- it makes us not want to use our resources, not use the -- find the answers that we actually have available to us. And instead, we do everything messy. It ends up messy because we aren’t thinking through it, or we ask questions that really don’t serve ourselves.

It’s like if we had just slowed down and thought about it, we would have gotten the answer faster and be able to implement it and move forward, whereas we just start word vomiting questions and our thoughts and our feelings, and it gets us more in a tizzy because we’re actually seeing those words on paper as we’re writing a question. And then we have to wait to get a response, and it just makes it so that you feel more flustered, and then you’re having to wait, and it just ruins it all together.

So when you have time to slow down and think, it helps because when you’re being frantic with it, you can’t think straight, and then you don’t do as good a job, and then it just -- it’s just this one giant, frantic circle, and you don’t feel good. Neither of those options are good.

So let’s talk about what to do instead, and these are not just like pie-in-the-sky ideas where it’s like, okay, this sounds great, Elizabeth. You’re saying them. Or if you’re reading the transcript, you’re like, oh yeah, it looks great. These are things that I actually do myself coming from the personality that is frantic sometimes, or it can also freeze up.

So if you find that you’re falling into either of these categories, know that you are not alone, and I’m not sitting here judging you, being like, why can’t you get your life together? This is something where -- I’ve been running a business, some sort of business of my own since -- for nearly 20 years, and I still get those frantic, freeze-up feelings. And so I am by no means -- whether you are a veteran business owner or this is day one and you’re figuring it out, I am by no means being like, why haven’t you got your life together? We’re adults. We know how to do this, right?

These are things that I put into practice because I feel the same way, have felt the same way as you, and these are things that actually help me do better, and they are things I actually started doing on Monday. And it’s Wednesday now, and I’ve been implementing them each day, and it feels so much better seeing myself get things done by actually implementing these.

So these are things that I know work because I do them myself. I know other people who do them as well, and I’m also -- as a side note, I’m not somebody who likes to have like an entire morning routine to help you get ready and make this extensive, exhaustive checklist and then like all these preparatory things to make sure that I can finally sit down and do the work. That is not my personality. I am one who’s like I need to get in and go, and I’m going to be the most efficient possible. So that’s what I’m doing here is giving you the most efficient way to sit down and get things done so that you don’t freeze up and you don’t feel frantic.

So I’m going to be specifically talking in this podcast on these steps about approaching learning how to be a proofreader because this is The Proofreading Business Podcast, and that’s who I coach, are proofreaders. But you can apply this to life in general. I do it with other things in life that I need to work on whether -- if I have a big project outside of work, and it’s like, oh, this is a big job that I need to do, I will apply this to those too. And it just -- that’s one of the great things about becoming a proofreader and building your business is you learn skills that don’t just help you in your business but help you in life in general.

So let’s dive right into it. So this can seem like you’re like, Elizabeth, you just said that you don’t have fluffy things to do. You’re very efficient with how you get to work and get your day planned and get going.

And so it may seem like I’m contradicting what I just said, but this is truly invaluable. And that is, it’s easy to forget to take care of our bodies when we’re feeling frantic or stressed out or freezing up. And we tend to only focus on the work that we have ahead of us instead of, okay, let me take care of my body first because if your body and your brain are not fueled and taken care of properly, then you cannot sit down and focus and get things done in the way that you need to.

So I like to, when I’m feeling overwhelmed and that I’ve got a lot to do is take a few deep breaths in and out to just calm myself down to center my mind where it needs to be. If you’re into meditating or praying, if you have the Calm app where it can give you some breathing exercises, that is worth the two to three minutes that you do that before you sit down to work on something if it helps you be productive for the next 30 minutes or the hour.

I’m also a huge fan of making sure to drink water and stay hydrated because that will help your brain stay focused and on top of things. And yes, it means you’re going to have to get up, run to the restroom occasionally, and that’s fine. You need to give yourself brain breaks, and that’s a great way to do it. So take breaths, deep breaths. Breathe in and out. Drink water.

You can drink water while you’re sitting there working on your tasks, so this is not something that has to be an extensive yoga practice or Peloton ride or weightlifting session, although all of those things are great, and I highly recommend incorporating activity and working out into your routine. That’s not what this podcast is about. But just make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. And even if that’s the bare minimum of taking time to breathe in and out, drink water, focus yourself, help calm down that giant feeling of anxiety and just tension inside of you.

And then the next thing that I like to do, and this is where I find is one of my super powers is being able to break down what I need to work on. So I have my overall goal, and then break down into a list of things that I need to do in order to accomplish that goal. Now, here’s the thing. Making lists is great. A lot of us are list makers, and we love checking things off. I’m the type of person that will also write down something that wasn’t on my list but I just got it done so that I can actually sit down. I write my list in black ink, and then I have a pink pen, and then I go and check things out with my pink pen.

So if you love to make lists, I know you’re feeling me. And if you’re like, I’m not really a list person, I highly recommend making lists because when you write things down, it helps solidify them more. It helps you stay focused to the things that you need to because you can see it. Your brain took time to write it. You took time to think through it, and then you can actually see it in black and white or pink and white on the page and see what you need to do.

So make a list of things that you need to do. And then you can’t just make a list. You also have to section out what you’re going to do for that day alone because if you have this giant checklist of everything that you need to get done, that’s great. That is an amazing start. It’s -- you are further ahead than most people who are feeling frantic or freezing up because you have a list.

But if you don’t narrow down that list to what you’re going to work on today, it will still give you that feeling of overwhelmed and lost and like where do I start on this list right here because it’s like, oh, I have so much to do. Where am I going to go with this?

So what I like to do is I like to write down in pink -- pick your favorite color. It doesn’t -- if you’re more definitely a black-and-white person, then do that. Write in your black ink. But I write down Monday, and then I write down a list of things that I know that I can do that day. So that’s the other important part is when you make a list of things that you need to do for a day, make sure that it’s a realistic list because we all have our ideal day in mind, right? And we pack our list full.

So what I like to do -- and then we don’t get it done at the end of the day, and then we’re discouraged and we feel like we’re a failure, and then you’re back to feeling anxious and overwhelmed again, and that’s not the goal, right?

So what I like to do with checklists is write down the absolute most important things that I have to get done for the day. If I don’t get them done, then it’s -- there aren’t going to be very good consequences to it. So I write those down, and then I’ll also write down a handful of other things that, if I have extra time, then I will work on these things too.

So that way, if I get done at the end of the day, I’m not just sitting there twiddling my thumbs. I actually -- or binging Netflix or whatever, although there’s nothing wrong with taking -- giving yourself brain space. But if you want to use your time wisely and you have extra time and the brain space to do it, then having that extra few things that you could do if you have the time available on your list will help give you direction for what you need to focus on for the day.

And you may be thinking, well, that’s all great, Elizabeth. But when I’m starting a business, I don’t even know the things that I need to work on to make a checklist. And that’s why inside my course, Learn How To Be a Transcript Proofreader, I make checklists for you, and I have assignments so that you know this is -- here’s my lesson, here’s what I need to do in order to apply the lesson, and there is a check-markable list where I can check off things as I get them done.

Now, I don’t divide it into days. That will be your part of, okay, here I have a checklist. Here I have what I need to do. And then you can decide what you have time for during that day or that week in order to get it done.

My other thing that I like to do after I make the list is to then cut out distractions as much as possible, and these could be a huge variety of things from making sure that I’m in a place where there aren’t as many distractions. And I’m going to say before I go further on this, I know everybody’s life and where they’re at is very different from each other.

Now, for me, it’s -- I have an office. I have a quiet space that I can go into and start working. I don’t have kids. So everybody’s -- depending on your stage of life, will be different. And so how you’re able to cut down distractions will look very different than mine, and maybe you can’t cut out all the distractions possible, but cut them down as much as you can.

And distractions can be anywhere from the people that are around you to the spot that you are at to what you allow yourself to do during your time when you’re sitting down to work on your business. So my tendency is to doom scroll on Facebook or Instagram, to just mindlessly check my email when I’m sitting down -- when I start feeling myself get stressed. And I even notice it.

I’ll have breathed in and out. I’ll be drinking water. I’ll have my checklist of things that I need to do, and I’ll notice that when I’m in the middle of something and I just don’t want to work on the next project or I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, my tendency is to pick up my phone and open a social media app or my email. And I really -- and sometimes I’m like, okay, this is my work email. I have my business on Facebook and Instagram, so I’m actually doing things that are helpful. And sure, they’re helpful in their place. I do need to pay attention to my email and my messages and make sure I’m connecting with people.

But when I’m sitting down to work on my specific things on my checklist, I shouldn’t be picking up my phone or opening another tab on my laptop in order to distract myself when I need to be working. So I know that I need to make Instagram stories, my proofreading quiz that I do just about every day in my proofreading stories for you to test your proofreading skills, and so make sure to check those out if you’re not on Instagram, The Proofreading Business Coach -- or you don’t follow me on Instagram, The Proofreading Business Coach over there. And you can take those free quizzes in my stories.

And I need to interact. I need to make sure that I’m answering messages and emails. So I will build -- I will put that on my checklist of things I need to do. But if I’m not working on that part of my checklist, I just make an intentional effort. If my -- if I’m like, I don’t want to work on this; give me my phone, to actually put my phone in another room or to set it down, face down so I can’t see any notifications come up. I’ll put my Do Not Disturb on my laptop. And when I notice that my brain is going -- my hands are going to click on another tab or to pick up my phone, to make a mental, conscious effort that, no, Elizabeth, this is not what you’re having to work on right now. Put it down and stay focused.

And 9.9 out of 10 times when I do that, I’m able to just go right back in, and the task that I was avoiding ends up not being so bad after all, which is nice. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s not always difficult or hard. Sometimes it is. And sometimes I can find that if I snap myself out of it, I notice I’m reaching for my phone, I make a conscious -- Elizabeth, put it down, focus.

If I cannot get into the focus of what I need to work on, that’s my sign that I need to step back and do something different for just a little bit. It could be stepping outside, petting my cats, going and saying hi to Jonathan, doing a load of laundry, focus -- like if you have kids, focusing on your kids, something where you’re not -- you’re giving your brain a break, and then come back to what you were working on.

But make sure to cut out distractions that really you don’t need to be doing. You’re trying to justify that. It’s called procrastivity where you’re being -- you’re trying to be productive in order to procrastinate what you know you need to work on. So sure, checking my email, answering Instagram messages, those are great things, but is that actually what I need to be working on right now? Probably not. But we try to make ourselves feel better, at least I do, by being productive when I’m actually procrastinating.

So ask yourself: Do I actually truly need to be doing this right now? And 9 out of 10 times you won’t have to. So get yourself back into the groove again, and if you just can’t get back in, try switching it to a different task, giving your brain another break, and then get right back into it.

And then in the realm of cutting out distractions is have focused periods where you can sit down and just focus on what you need to. And you have to be able, of course, to cut out distractions. So one thing that I do in order to have focus periods is I communicate to those around me that, hey, from this time to this time in order to be able to focus. And it’s like, it’s on the schedule.

Just like you go into work from 9 to 5 or you know that you’re going to eat at this time or you have a dentist appointment at this time, you’re going to make yourself show up to those times, right? Those are important times. You should be doing the same way with your business because those are important moments for you. It’s about building your business and your future, and so you need to focus during those times.

So communicate to other people that you need that time. I am going from 1 o’clock to 3 o’clock. This is what I’m going to be working on. It can be whatever time. I just picked a time. But, for instance, since my husband is the only one home for me, I will tell Jonathan, hey, I’m going to be working from 1 o’clock to 3 o’clock. When I get done at 3, we can hang out or whatever so that way he knows that I am in my zone, in my office, and it’s best if he just gives me my space. It gives him time to have his space, and it works great that way.

But don’t just expect your significant other or if your kids are older and more independent or if you live with others around you, don’t just expect them to know that just because you’re in your office or sitting on the corner of the couch or on the -- at your desk or on the dining room table or wherever you’re at that you need that time. Communicate it to them. Just let them know. Sit down and actually have a conversation about why this is important to you if they don’t understand, and at least you’ve shared that. It will help save you frustration from them not respecting your space because they didn’t know. And it will also help them understand where you’re coming from.

Now, it depends on your relationship. There are some where you’re going to have to work on that more than others. My husband and I have had to work on learning to communicate that with each other and why it’s important, and it’s been a work in progress, and that’s fine. So I’m not saying it’s going to be perfect. But make sure that you’re communicating that you have a focus period, and here’s where you’re going to be.

And I actually have a blog post, and I will link it in the show notes, on 18 Ways To Focus Better As a Proofreader. And just as I did here, I also say on the podcast that everybody’s life looks different. Some people’s lives have where your focus periods are going to be in the middle of a tornado, it’s going to feel like, in your house or at work. But you do what you can and implement what you can in order to make it. Everybody’s focus periods are going to be different, and that is fine.

The thing is just don’t make it an excuse where it’s like, well, I have three kids under 4, and my life is just a hot mess right now, and so it’s really hard to focus so I’m not going to. If you’ve decided to work on your business, find ways to make it work. And it’s not going to be perfect. It’s going to be messy, and that’s okay. Life is not perfect, and life is messy, and you’re not doing anything wrong just because you can’t get a couple hours of focus time in.

So give yourself grace when you’re finding these focus periods, but don’t use the excuse of my life’s a hot mess, so I’m never going to have a focus period like you’re talking about. Make it work for you, and it’s okay if it’s imperfect. The important thing is that you’re doing it.

The other thing too, and I kind of mentioned this, was don’t glue yourself to a screen the whole time. Proofreading is very screen based, and it can be exhausting when you’re doing that. I wear blue light glasses. I have my blue light filter on my laptop, on my iPad, on my phone. Those really help. But also stepping away from your desk not only just helps your eyes from staring at a screen for a long time, but it also helps your brain because your brain is not meant to just go super hard for just hours and hours and hours and hours at a time and to remain in peak condition.

You can build up. You’ll be able to sit and proof longer or work on your business longer. It’s just like anything else. If you’ve ever run a marathon or a 5K or 10K, half K, whatever, you don’t start out on day one running a marathon. You’re going to gradually build up to it, and you’ll get better and better, the same way with your proofreading and building your business and all that.

But have periods where you get outside, get fresh air, do other things that you have to do. That helps you be productive in other things, but it also gives your brain a break where it’s not just focusing on building a business or proofreading a transcript. And you’ll enjoy building your business and proofreading transcripts more if you give yourself breaks.

And then outside of creating focus times and having breaks around it is make sure, and this is such an important thing. Make sure to slow down. And I know that can seem like completely counterintuitive where you’re like, Elizabeth, I have so much stuff I need to get done, and I’m trying to focus so that I can get as much done as possible, and now you’re telling me to slow down? Yes.

In order to move quickly, in order to see your business progress, you have to slow down, read, take your time, ingest things, and learn because if you don’t, if you’re just trying to fly through everything for the sake of being fast, you’re actually going to have to slow down and redo things because you’re going so quickly. You’re not absorbing everything. You’re not learning what you need to. And then you end up having to spend more time on it because you have to go back and redo things.

So now I’m not saying to be slow just for slow’s sake. If you are catching onto things, if it’s really easy for you to name your business or maybe hyphens are really easy for you, you don’t need to spend a ton of time studying hyphens if you’ve got hyphens down. If you know your business name, you don’t need to be sitting there for a week trying to decide a business name because you’re like, well, Elizabeth said to go slow. No. If you know things go with it. That’s awesome.

But if you find that you need to really focus in on something, which is going to -- everybody, when they’re building a business, is going to have parts where they need to really focus and learn and get feedback. Everybody is going to be that way. You have to slow down to actually learn. If you find that you’re being frantic and trying to rush everything and you’re not absorbing everything and you’re not able to think clearly, remind yourself to slow down.

And when you’re slowing down, you’re actually going to make better progress, which results into being faster in the long run because if you’re just rushing everything and then having to go back and redo it and not actually learning, it doesn’t serve you, and you’re going to be frustrated and discouraged with that.

So take time to slow down on the things that you actually need to, and don’t feel like you’re moving slowly. You’re actually going at the pace that you need to do, and that’s part of being a good boss to yourself is knowing that you need to take time to do well on things.

And in that same vein of slowing down is take time to think. The tendency is to forget that we have reasoning abilities, that we have resources that we can use when we’re feeling flustered and overwhelmed about working on our business, and we’re trying to use our time efficiently and to get as much done as we can, which is great. But the tendency is, and this is why it goes hand in hand with slowing down is you need to take time to think.

One of the things, one of the most important things, about proofreading is not just grammar. Is this the right punctuation mark? Is this word spelled correctly? Is there a dropped word? Has the court reporter been consistent throughout the transcript? This date was mentioned earlier in the transcript. Is it -- she added an extra zero in, or maybe it was 2011 earlier, and now it’s 2001. Which one? Making sure that things are consistent throughout.

As you’re going through a transcript, as you’re working on your business, as you’re having to figure things out either proofreading or trying to learn how to use your software or learning how to proofread itself like the grammar around it, or learning about your court reporters’ preferences, or learning how to pick up on those things like the date that I mentioned, you have to, as a proofreader, be able to use your research skills.

You have to be a problem-solver, and you have to be somebody who can work independently, not somebody who is always relying on somebody else to answer questions for you and figure things out for you because, when you’re working on a transcript from a court reporter, you need to be efficient with your time. You need to be able to use your resources. Look things up when you don’t know something.

I use Merriam-Webster dictionary online multiple times in every single proofreading job that I have, and I have been proofreading for almost 20 years, and I still use Merriam-Webster. I still look up hyphens. I still look up, if I come across something in a transcript and I don’t know what they’re talking about, I’m Googling to understand the context and make sure the word is used correctly.

If I don’t understand a grammar thing, I’m going to my resources to try to figure it out because that’s what the court reporter is paying me to do. They’re paying me to be the expert proofreader, and so I’m going to do that for them. But if I am so frazzled that I don’t take time to use my resources or to figure things out on my own, I’m not going to do a great job for that court reporter client.

And that’s one thing that you’re looking -- those are skills that you’re building because using problem-solving skills, learning how to be independent, learning how to use your research skills and how to use your resources is a huge part. And it’s right up there with knowing your grammar and spelling well and how to use your proofreading software.

It’s also right up there with knowing how to run a business and how to market and get clients. It’s right up there with knowing how to do all of that. And so when you are not -- when you’re being frazzled and you’re stressed out and you’re just frantically running around trying to get everything done and you’re not taking time to slow down and think, you don’t give yourself the opportunity to learn those skills that you have to have in order to be a transcript proofreader because, if you don’t have those, you’re not going to be a transcript proofreader. You won’t have clients who want to work with you again and who pay you consistently.

And that’s your ultimate goal, right? You want to be able to have your own business with your clients who love you, who love working with you, that you love working with who pay you on time. That’s what you’re looking forward to as a transcript proofreader, right?

But you’ll never get there if you don’t take time to think and to learn and to grow. And that tendency is to forget that we have that ability to reason. We forget that we have resources. We forget sometimes that we have a brain, that we can think through things.

And we just kind of let it go off to the wayside, and we just start asking a million questions and never -- or frantically looking up things and not ever actually slowing down and realizing, okay, you know what? No, I don’t know how to use that word. I’m going to look it up inside Merriam-Webster, see what the definition is, make sure it’s spelled correctly. I’m not sure if that word should be hyphenated. All right, I’m going to use my resources to look up how to hyphenate something and to think through those things.

And when you work on slowing down and learning how to use your resources, learning how to think and reason through things and problem solve and learn how to be an independent proofreader, now, as you’re learning how to proofread, you will be so much happier and more successful as a proofreader once you graduate and start working with clients.

So take that time now. If you start feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing, to just hit the pause button and realize, I have all the tools here to be successful. If you’re a Learn How To Be a Transcript Proofreader student, you have the course. You have the community. You have my support, my team’s support.

You have the resources that I recommend and also provide inside the course for you to look up things and find the answers that you need before you word vomit questions everywhere because it’s not that my team and I don’t want to support you. It’s that I actually -- we want to support you in a bigger way, helping you think through things and reason things and help you in the reasoning process rather than just, oh, here’s the answer because if you’re always given the answer because you just word vomited questions, you’re never going to learn how to be the proofreader that you need to be for your clients.

And so it will also help you feel so much more confident and happier about your business when you realize that you are able to use your resources. And sometimes those resources are absolutely yes, learning how to ask questions that get you the helpful answers that you need when you truly don’t understand something.

And it also just -- it feels so confident to know that if I don’t know something, I know how to go figure it out. I know I have the brain power, the brain space, the ability to use my resources and figure things out.

I like to think of it as kind of being a Nancy Drew inside a transcript. When I’m proofreading and when I’m working on things in my business, if I don’t know something is to go research it and figure it out. And it feels really good to detect things as a Nancy Drew and figure them out, especially I’m assuming like if you’re in transcript proofreading, you tend to like legal and mysteries. And if you’re like me, you just read a ton of Nancy Drews when you were little, and it feels good to be able to kind of dig into that side of your detective background. Maybe you didn’t get to be a PI, but you can be with learning how to start your own business.

So make sure that you slow down, take time to think, and absolutely ask questions when you need them because that’s how you’re going to learn and you’re going to grow. And you’re also going to learn and grow by learning how to use your resources, and that will serve -- both of those will serve you well as you head into working with clients.

And you know, you can do all these steps that I talked about, about taking care of yourself before you start working like drinking water, taking deep breaths, making a list, cutting out distractions, having your focus periods, making sure you’re not gluing yourself to a screen, that you’re taking breaks. You’re slowing down; you’re taking time to think. You can do all those things, and it’s also easy to slip back into feeling frozen or frazzled. And every time that happens, this is what I do is I have to just refocus again, get back to these steps, and start working through them, and get back into it.

So here’s the thing that I’m going to wrap up with is as you’re working on building your transcript proofreading business, no matter what stage you’re in, or maybe you’re just thinking about it at the moment, and maybe you have these feelings of just feeling so overwhelmed that you’re frozen -- you don’t even know how to get started. Or you’re trying to do it on your own, and you’re feeling really frantic, which is why I have Learn How To Be a Transcript Proofreader and have built it to be the course that gives you everything you need along with the support that you get with it.

But as you’re going through and working on your business regardless of your stage, make sure to give yourself grace. Remove the expectation from yourself that you have to get everything done perfectly, that you have to do everything done today. Don’t tell yourself that you’re behind if you decided to take a break. If you took a break, maybe it was a planned break like a vacation or you just needed a little bit of time off, the afternoon off, the weekend off, the day off, the week off, whatever, you deserve that break. You needed it. Your brain needed some time away. I needed that time away on the beach earlier last week.

You need that time away, so don’t beat yourself up that I could have been working on my business at that point and I didn’t. You deserve that break. That’s part of being a good boss to yourself. That’s part of being a business owner is taking breaks, so don’t beat yourself up if you took a break and then you’re coming back and you’re feeling frazzled. Don’t beat yourself up for that. It doesn’t serve you. You deserved that break, and so appreciate that you took it and then get right back into it.

And if you took an unplanned break, maybe you took longer to sign up for the course and to get into your proofreading business, or maybe you got started, and you got stuck on naming your business name or inside the practice transcripts or wherever you’re at and you took an unplanned break that maybe, looking back you’re really disappointed about yourself. You’re like, I shouldn’t have done that. Realize that you can’t go back and change things. You can’t go back and get that time back.

So instead of beating yourself up over it, acknowledge that, yes, I took that time off. Should I have done that for the reasons that I did? No. But here’s the thing: You can’t change that, so realize why you took that time off, figure out how to avoid doing that again, and then focus on moving ahead.

Don’t wallow in discouragement of where you were. Focus on here’s what I have and can be in control of now, and that is today. And I have the tools now with this podcast on how to refocus and get back to work, and so that’s what I’m going to do. And that is something to celebrate for yourself because it’s so easy to just focus on the past and all the things that we did wrong, and that doesn’t serve you.

Learn from it. Move forward. I’m not going to judge you for it. I’m going to be excited that you are getting back into it. That’s the important thing.

The thing is, whether you’ve allowed yourself to be frazzled and frantic or maybe frozen, the important thing is you are making progress now. You’re making the decision that I’m going to sit down. I’m going to regroup, and I’m going to get this done. That’s what’s important.

So don’t freak out. Don’t dissolve into a puddle, a mess because you felt like you wasted time or that you haven’t approached your learning process the way that you wanted to. But focus on what’s important, and that is moving ahead, removing the expectation that you have to get everything done, giving yourself grace.

And I’m going to end with this is you’re not going to be perfect working on your transcript proofreading business. You’re going to make mistakes as you’re learning, as you’re going through practice transcripts, even as you take your exams. You will slip back into unhelpful habits like feeling frozen or feeling frantic or not using your time like you imagined that you would. But don’t beat yourself up. Reassess, regroup, figure out where you’re at inside the course, get inside the community to get support and encouragement, join my lives that I do, and get back to it.

I’m not expecting you to be perfect. I’m not perfect, and so I can’t expect y’all to be perfect either, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to be perfect. Learning a new business is a lot. You’ve got a lot on your plate. As adults, you’ve got a lot of responsibilities, and for most of us, it’s been awhile since high school or college where we had to sit down and focus on something and learn something new. And it’s a part of our brain that we’re not used to using, learning something new. And then transcript proofreading is a whole other ballgame, and so you’re just learning so many new things.

And then after you learn how to be a transcript proofreader, learning how to set up your business, how to run your business, how to market yourself and go get clients. That’s a completely different skill too. And you’re going to make mistakes, and that’s okay. If you’re always expecting yourself to be perfect, you’ll become frazzled and overwhelmed and discouraged.

And here’s the thing. I guarantee you that if somebody were to say I really messed up on this right here; I took too long to do this, or I didn’t -- I haven’t progressed as quickly as I wanted to, or I made a mistake on this or that, if you saw somebody saying that, you’d be like, you know what? The important thing is you’re working on. Just keep going. You’ll get better and better. Keep growing. Keep using your resources. Keep implementing these things to help you stay focused and to make the progress that you want to.

You’d be gracious to that person, right? You’re not going to be like, yeah, you really screwed up. I can’t believe you did that. You’re an awful person. You should just give up. You would never tell somebody that, right? And if you would, I -- we need to talk. But my assumption is you’re not going to do that. You’re going to turn around and encourage that person and be like, you’ve got this. So don’t talk to yourself that way when you mess up, when you make a mistake, when you aren’t making the progress, when you’ve allowed yourself to be frazzled or frozen.

Talk to yourself the same way that you would tell somebody else that needed some encouragement, and then get back to work. You can’t spend a long time feeling upset or sorry for yourself because that will just drag you down. It will make you miserable. You’ll never make progress. That’s living in the past. There’s no point for that. You’re working on your future right now, making it better.

And so give yourself grace. Be okay with the learning process of it being messy and mistakes and it will feel like a dumpster fire sometimes. The important thing is you are doing what so few people do. You have a dream and a goal for your future, and you’re actively working on making it happen. And I am so proud of you for doing that.

If you’re currently working on building your business whether it’s a transcript proofreading business or anything else, know that I am so proud of you. It takes bravery and time to do that and vulnerability and being okay with making mistakes. So I am so proud of you for that.

And if you’ve been thinking about it and thinking about it and worried about how am I going to make this happen, I’m proud of you for thinking about it because so many people just are fine living where they’re at, or they’re not fine. They want something different, but they don’t want to put the work into it, and so they just kind of squish those feelings and emotions down.

So I encourage you, as you’re thinking about it, to just get started. Realize that you don’t have to feel frazzled and frustrated or frozen. I’ve got you. My team’s got you. The community’s got you. We -- you will be in a supportive, helpful place that encourages you when you feel down, pushes you to do your best, and celebrates you when you’re successful.

So, you all, thank you so much for listening to this podcast today and my thoughts around it. And I hope that you start implementing these, and if you found that you felt like I talked about at the beginning, that you start putting these into practice and start noticing a difference, and while you’re doing it, giving yourself grace and not giving up.

Outro: Thanks so much for joining me today. Make sure that you’re subscribed so that you get the next episode that comes out. And if you know somebody who is interested in proofreading or starting their own side hustle, make sure to share this podcast with them, and I will see you next time here on The Proofreading Business Podcast.

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Meet Elizabeth

Elizabeth Wiegner is a work-from-home proofreader and business coach who teaches other readers and typo fixers how to build a life of freedom as a proofreader. Her energy, love, and personalized support are second to none in the proofreading world.