It happened a few weeks ago. I didn’t want to come into work. For those of you who know me, you know that’s not like me. I love my job. I love my clients. But I was just tired.
A tornado of circumstances, starting with a brand-new innovative client and continuing with my assistant having to take some time off to care for her grandmother, left me feeling weary and nearly burned out. And yet the to-do list waited for me… next to a packed calendar.
Such is the life of a small business owner. I’ve watched many of my clients deal with the chaos that comes along with owning a small business. Unscientifically, it’s probably one of the reasons for the short lifespan of small businesses. However, my clients have taught me some valuable tools for surviving (and thriving in) the chaos.
- Build margin in your day. You know you’re going to have to deal with unexpected tasks and phone calls, so if you make out a daily schedule, leave about 30-60 minutes for catch-up time. This may even give you a chance to work on that project you keep putting off.
- Make your relaxation time rewarding. I try to live a very disciplined life, but when I’m in a season of extreme stress, I spoil myself a little. Instead of just zoning out in front of the tv, I’ll head out to my hammock to watch clouds. What are your soul-refreshing activities? You’ll feel recharged after diving deep into your relaxation.
- Take small brain breaks. My young nephew just started homeschooling and e-mailed about his progress, adding “I take lots of brain breaks.” He’s onto something there, and his Aunt Christy has followed this advice. When you get stuck on a project and can’t seem to think through it, set it aside and come back another time. You’ll often have more focused perspective.
- Get help. You can’t do it all. Trust me, I’ve tried. Find people who will be an asset to your business. Perhaps it’s time to bring on a contractor to help you through a specific struggle. Or maybe you need to find some help for tasks outside work to allow you to focus on work for longer stretches of time. When I look over my list of clients, those who have outstanding help lead the most balanced lives and see the most growth in their businesses.
- Identify your time-wasters. There are tasks and habits in your day where minutes and hours just evaporate. For me, it was meeting people at the local coffee shop. Meetings that should have taken 30 minutes soon took over an hour as we all stopped to visit with the other customers or waited for coffee. Now I meet clients at their office or in my office. It keeps us focused.
- Take care of yourself. Ok, I’m going to put on my “mom hat” for a moment and remind you that your mental and physical health are precious gifts. Do not take them for granted. Eating regular, balanced meals and making time for exercise will pay off in the end. It’s a blessing to me to have several health-focused clients who model this well.
While I am finishing this blog at 8:30 pm on a Tuesday, I’m pleased to report feeling far less stressed than a few weeks ago. The to-do list is still long. The calendar is still full. But I’m pushing through the chaos. And you can, too!