Do deadlines rule your life? Is time your worst enemy?
More than ever the pace of small business is changing, and while new tools and technology claim to help us keep pace with evolving demands, they often work to the contrary.
For business owners and entrepreneurs, in particular, the sense of urgency to get as much accomplished in as little time as possible can become all-consuming. Whether it’s answering every email the instant it hits your Inbox, pre-empting every deadline, or getting into a sheer panic over the volume of work you need to do. Throw in the added pressure of maintaining a realistic work/life balance and you might just be looking at a serious case of business burn out.
Unchecked, burn out hampers your ability to make smart decisions, kills creativity, and even leads to medical issues.
Here are six tips that can help you fight business burn out and put a kick back in your step!
1. Identify the Triggers
As a small business owner, you are responsible for all aspects of your business, and realistically speaking this is no mean feat for any human being. So it’s no surprise that certain aspects of running your business can quickly become sticking points that weigh you down with anxiety and inertia.
Start by taking stock of tasks and situations that regularly cause you anxiety or stress. Does your Inbox rule your life? Do you dread business presentations or sales calls? Working with difficult customers can also be extremely stressful. Once you’ve identified these you can start to tackle them.
2. Reframe your Reaction
In most instances, humans over-react to stress, to the point that they distort the object of the stress, whether it’s a harmless grass snake or a deadline that really isn’t life or death. Experts advise us to try to counter our reactions to an uncomfortable situation by stepping back and telling ourselves that it’s not the object of your stress that’s crippling you (whether it’s a difficult deadline or a tricky customer) but what you’re telling yourself about the stress.
So instead of thinking “If I don’t meet this deadline, I’ll surely lose this customer/investor?” try to reframe your reaction. Then walk through some steps that can help you get a better grasp of that stress-catalyst. In this case, is the deadline is realistic? Work with your team/client to reassess workload/priorities, and so on.
The same applies to answer emails, no one will die if you don’t answer all your emails the moment they come in. Try to allocate blocks of time during the day to take care of pressures like managing your Inbox, making collection calls, and so on.
Delegation takes an enormous strain off your shoulders; it also empowers employees to take a vested interest and role in your business success. Consider shedding some of your responsibilities to employees who have specific skills, are quick learners, or who are showing leadership potential.
4. Schedule “Me” Time
This is easier said than done, especially when you feel you responsible for being there for your customers and your employees 100 percent of the time. Even if you’re not “at it” 100 percent of the time, simple interruptions such as taking calls or answering emails after hours, can disrupt quality “me” time.
If you struggle to find time for yourself during the week, try to manage your “me“ time in blocks. Whether it’s an hour at the gym or a Friday afternoon game of golf, mark it in your calendar and manage your business around those times. Friday’s tend to be light on meetings and, let’s face it, productivity levels are not at their highest – maximize this time by blocking it in your calendar, you’ll feel surprisingly refreshed for it.
5. Find New Challenges
Take your mind off stress factors by finding new challenges! Shake it up a bit and reinvigorate your business by exploring new markets, new sales strategies, or new products. Alternatively, focus on making simple changes such as team-building exercises with employees, a new lick of paint to your home-based office, or getting out on the road to meet more customers.
6. Learn from Others
Whether you are networking at a local Chamber of Commerce event or catching up with fellow business owners over lunch, getting out there and sharing your experiences and concerns with like-minded entrepreneurs can provide a sense of connection, motivation, and well-being.