Life can be stressful, right? Particularly over the last year or so when the world has been in turmoil with Covid-19 and lockdown.
Life as a small business owner is hectic, busy, time-consuming, challenging, satisfying… to name a few… and yes, it can be a little stressful at times. When you’re in business on your own, it can be lonely and you don’t have a boss, a team or other departments that you can liaise with or rely on. Of course on the flip side you don’t need anyone else to authorise your decisions – a definite plus point. But when you are shouldering all the responsibility it can weigh you down.
I became self-employed largely to fit around my family and other life commitments, so when I’m not working it’s certainly not down-time, it’s parenting time, or housework and general life admin. It’s not time off.
I recognise that I don’t take time off – I’m always doing something – in fact I’m evening writing this blog on a Saturday night! And I think it’s the same for a lot of other small business owners. We have a lot of plates to spin, and to keep them spinning it means minimal or no time off. In which case, how do we relax? How do we unwind and dissolve our stress?
I’ve been thinking about this!
There are 2 components to it, to a small business owner leading a stress free life – reducing stress in the business, and taking time out to de-stress.
Reducing the Stress in Your Business
What causes you stress in your business? I have found that for a lot people it is their lack of time, or the fact that they have too many things to do. OK, I can’t give you more time in the day, but I can certainly help you with having less things to do!
Ditch and Delegate
I’ve been talking a lot recently about Covey’s quadrant model for priorities – and this comes into play here because ultimately we want to reduce the amount of things that you have to do in your day.
Look at each task on your to-do list and put it in its place in the quadrant; this will cut down what’s on your list. Half of the quadrants will have things that you don’t need to do, they are either to be delegated, or they can be ditched. If you can think of just one thing that doesn’t need to be on your list you will make your life a tiny bit easier!
As a small business owner delegating can be hard. You’re letting go of a little bit of responsibility for your business; of course it’s hard. I am a firm believer in outsourcing, but I still find it a wrench handing things to others, however capable, so I completely understand how you feel. However, once you’ve done it once, realised the freedom and seen that it does give you some time back you will keep doing it.
If it Doesn’t Feel Right, Don’t Do It.
When you are going against your gut feelings, your instincts and in some cases your values and morals, it can create internal conflict leading to a feeling of stress. Just in case you need the reminder – when you are your own boss, you make the rules and you can say no! If something isn’t working for you, you can investigate why and make changes if you need to. It is your business, you can make these decisions and you can change your mind. If there is something like this in your business, causing you stress, look into it, seek advice and reduce the stress.
Take Time for You
I find it hard to take time off. There, I’ve said it! I came into self-employment so that my working hours were flexible, which they are, but I do recognise that I need to take some time out too. Time for me; time to unwind; time to rebalance myself so I don’t feel stressed.
It’s this side of things I struggle with more than making working life easier, but it’s just as important. Looking into ideas of what to do to relax was therefore some self-development for me, and some reminders of things that I already knew! You don’t need to have a huge amount of time, take little bits here and there and it will keep you balanced.
Here are some ideas which can take from 10 minutes to an hour of your time – every little helps!
Add small things in throughout the day, and remember that you also deserve time off work. Personally, I cannot wait until the spas are open as I am well overdue a day off, chilling out in a peaceful spa. Just me and my book. No phone, no distractions. Bliss!
We’ll all have our ways of dealing with stress and overwhelm, mine revolves a lot around planning, and having a clear idea of what is coming up that I can control. Things out of my control crop up, but being prepared for the usual things makes it easier to deal with the unexpected. I hope that I have included some things that inspire you, or that are simply a reminder of things you already know.
Life can be complicated and unpredictable, but everyone can feature a little calm into their lives.
Now, I’m going to take a few minutes out to throw the ball for the dog, followed by strokes and cuddles; pets can be the perfect de-stresser!