How to Focus & Get Shit Done in the Midst of Personal Chaos (P.S. You’re Going to Survive)

How to Focus & Get Shit Done in the Midst of Personal Chaos (P.S. You’re Going to Survive)Are you having one of those days? You know, the kind of day where everything starts out fine, but then… your kid wakes up with a mysterious rash that’s looks highly contagious. One of your dogs throws up on the white sheepskin rug that you literally just bought. Your ex blows up your phone with a 5-page long text message full of hostile complaints. And that’s all before 8am.

How are you supposed to be a badass CEO and build your brand and run your empire when your personal life feels out of control?

Girlfriend, it’s a good question, and the answer is… It’s not easy. I’ve been in that position many times. When your personal life feels like hell, when you’re going through a break-up or divorce, grieving a death, dealing with a challenging family relationship or enduring any kind of high-stress situation, it can be so hard to handle even the most basic business tasks. Normal things like answering emails or replying to a voicemail suddenly feel overwhelming. You look at your desk with bleary, teary eyes and everything feels like too much.

But you are strong and capable and you will survive this, whatever you’re going through. You will. From one woman to another, here’s my advice on how to keep running your business and get work done, even when your personal life feels completely bonkers.

Clear away non-essential commitments.

When you look at your schedule for the next few weeks, which commitments are truly essential? Which are non-essential? I bet there’s a lot of non-essential stuff on your schedule that could be cleared away—a networking event you don’t really need to host, volunteer commitments, blog projects that aren’t mission critical. Cancel, reschedule, delegate, do whatever you need to do to lighten your load for a few weeks so you don’t feel so pressured and burdened. When your personal life is in crisis, the last thing you want is a crammed calendar with a million things to do. Give yourself some space.

Change your thoughts.

When stressful situations arise, pay close attention to what you start thinking. What do you keep repeating to yourself? Does your mind immediately go to a super-negative place, where you’re saying, “My life sucks. I’m doing it all wrong. I’ll never get myself out of this shitty place…” or something along those lines?

If that’s where your mind goes, try to change your thoughts. Instead of repeating “My life sucks” or “He’s a bleeping asshole,” say something different to yourself, something that feels truthful and also empowering. You could say, “I’m in pain right now, but I’m not powerless. I can take steps to make things better. I don’t control other people’s actions, but I’m in charge of myself and my attitude.”

When you change your thoughts and reframe how you speak to yourself and others, you change your mood and your entire day. It’s 10x easier to focus and get work done when you’re thinking empowering thoughts and speaking positive words rather than helpless, victimized, or intensely self-critical thoughts and statements.

How to Focus & Get Shit Done in the Midst of Personal Chaos (P.S. You’re Going to Survive)

Is it “easy” to change your thoughts? Hell no! If it were easy, everyone would be walking around in a state of perpetual bliss and enlightenment. It’s not easy at first, but it does get easier with practice.

Start with a few powerful affirmations every morning before you get out of bed and/or at night before you go to sleep. It’s amazing what the subconscious mind will do with them. Here are a few to consider and begin with:

I am safe.
I am supported.
I am flexible and flowing.
I live with grace and ease.
I have everything I need.
My life is divinely guided.
I trust the process of life.
All is well.

Be gentle with yourself.

If your personal life is in a state of turmoil, maybe this is not the ideal moment to apply to give a TEDx Talk, commit to writing a book, launch a podcast, and add five new clients to your docket. Take it easy. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t push so hard right now. Take time to rest.

Instead of putting lots of high-pressure commitments on your plate, give yourself a short list of tasks to complete each workday and stick to the basics. Celebrate each little victory, even if it’s just, “Yay! I posted a photo on Instagram and I answered three emails!” When your body is under stress, every little accomplishment is a big deal.

I know this may sound cliché, but most of all, remember that you’re not alone in your pain. 50% of married couples go through a divorce. 25% of women have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner at some point in their life. 17% of grown-up kids end up being a caregiver for their aging parents.

My point is, if you look around your local coffee shop, co-working space, or Soulcycle class, you’ll see brave warriors all around you. They’re everywhere. There are so many people who can relate to your pain and who would love to listen and share their stories and support you. Whatever you’re going through, somebody else has gone through it, too. They survived. So will you. You are never alone in this world.

Carry on, warrior.


  1. Thank you for emailing this article. It is a comfort to remember we are all having similar experiences. I especially like the list of affirmations. Those are good to screenshot and look at when needed.

    • Thank YOU, Michelle! We are in this thing called life together. And I’m so glad you liked the affirmations. I also find writing them down and then keeping them in a few different places – next to my bed, in my desk drawer, taped to the inside of my bathroom mirror – is very helpful. xx

  2. This hit my inbox this morning at the perfect time. Great advice. I would also add to this list “surround yourself with people who make you feel good, not drain you.” I’m tremendously lucky to have a support system of four strong, wise women who are great listeners, authentically supportive (which sometimes means saying the hard things), and empathic souls.

    • Thank you, Whitney. I love your additional tip, too. Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people who uplift your energy is key, and I’m so glad you have your squad in place. xx

  3. Kiki Reef says

    Thank you, Liz! I so needed this today. I’m dealing with my mother’s estate (she died on Christmas) and there’s been horrible infighting in my family and with other people involved. I’m trying so hard to make everyone happy and I’m getting no where. Your words really ring true and ARE helpful!

    • Thank YOU, Kiki, and I’m terribly sorry for your loss. I know it can’t be an easy time, but it’s so important to take care of yourself. The only person who’s happiness you control is your own – trying to make other people happy is futile and a waste of your energy. xx

  4. Liz This message couldn’t come at a better time then today! I did think of you today and remember hearing your story and thinking how in the world did she get through it? Of course the first thing I do is put the blame on me….and think of ways I should be changing! Thank you for setting me straight! Love you! Nancy

Speak Your Mind