Change your Mindset – Change your Business
By Rebecca Allam
It’s not an uncommon notion as a business owner to bite off more than we can chew on a day-to-day basis. Everyone does it, and we all know we shouldn’t, but just can’t seem to help laying the pressure on thick. Some days it motivates us, while other days we struggle to remember, “what day of the week is it?” or “how do we spell Wednesday again?”
Small business owners, as a general rule, are driven by the passion they have for their business. They are perfectionists by nature and quite frankly, they all just care far too much! Mostly, because their business is their baby and they want it to grow, they thrive and in turn build up a wonderful reputation. Quite often however, we bog ourselves down so much with to-do lists as long as Santa’s naughty list and end up chasing the wrong tasks leaving us to wonder at the end of the day, where did we go wrong?
If you are sat reading this thinking, “… this is exactly me!”, then I am glad we are on the same page and for the record you are not alone!
At one stage or another, all business owners face a solid brick wall of exhaustion, procrastination and feeling overwhelmed, so we all need help with putting things into perspective sometimes. It’s human nature when we care about something so deeply to let it consume us, but in order to make our passion work to the best of its ability we need to be able to - a) recognise the signs when we are becoming ineffective - b) ask for help and - c) change our mind-set.
Start here and now…
You can start by looking at the process you are currently using to plan your workloads. If your planning involves a never-ending to-do list that you re-write each day, with an assortment of tasks, most of which you know you can’t possibly complete – STOP right there and see below:
• Don’t set yourself up for failure! - If you set an unrealistic goal, you are going to be more disappointed with each day that goes by that you haven’t managed to complete it.
• Change the way that you plan! - The way we plan has a lot to do with the end results. Many people resort to the old fashioned to-do list because they don’t realise there are other options available when it comes to methods of planning. The ‘urgent important, urgent not important’ list can be a useful tool in helping you set out your tasks according to priority and having this on a white board can prove very motivational if hung on a wall in your office/study. If you like to plan things around your life, it can be better to use a weekly planner to build in your priorities, allowing you to see when there is space to do those odd little jobs. Just by making this small change it can really alter our focus and make a big impact on the way we structure ourselves.
• Think about how your mind works best… - Are you a visual person? Or do you prefer spreadsheets? You may be a paper based person using an electronic system which could be the reason you are missing out or forgetting to do certain tasks.
• Think about your timing… - i.e. what time of day you are writing your plan. For example, if you are starting your Monday morning off by planning out your day or week it can be quite demotivating, as it will take a portion of your Monday to plan it in the first instance. It is typically more productive to schedule your tasks for the following week on a Friday afternoon/evening ready for you to start your week fresh come Monday morning.
• What is your ideal working environment? - Could this be a factor? Not everyone works best in an office. Some people prefer to work in a coffee shop, in a more active environment and on a break from the quote writing, they can do a bit of casual people watching while drinking their favourite cuppa. Some prefer a more relaxed environment in their living room with a playlist on. Where ever it is, make sure it works for you.
SME’s are quite often one- man-bands which can contribute to increasing pressures and the great struggle to keep time on your side as spinning plates, juggling balls or the wearing many hats comes into play, resulting in a bad case of the SMES (Small / Medium Enterprise Schizophrenia). To ease these symptoms follow the advice below:
• Short chunks not 3 course meals - Scheduling your time into bite size chunks proves effective for small business owners – just imagine how much precious time we would use up every day if we responded to every little thing the moment it happened… most of us would spend the morning alone simply combating the ever appearing ‘spam mail’. Apportioning time to spend on tasks gives us much needed structure and allows us an ever important completion time i.e. relief!
• Change your internal view point! - When you start to feel yourself becoming too overwhelmed with your workloads and feel things creeping up on you, try changing the way you think about your situation i.e. if you had a boss what would they be saying to you? You wouldn’t expect an employee to work nights and weekends every week with no time off! So why do it to yourself?
• Through thick and thin - By far the best cure for a bad case of the SMES is to allocate yourself an accountability partner. None of us are perfect, and there is no shame in admitting we need help from another person, just as long as we are willing to do something about it. Find someone you know (probably not a direct relative), someone who you can trust to be honest and share in your plans so they, in turn, can hold you to your commitments and deadlines.
The points I have raised above are all from first-hand experience at The Business Clinic ‘Peerworking’ support sessions. Real people have raised these issues and followed this advice, and it’s changed the way they operate within their businesses and allowed them to focus their time on building healthier profits.