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Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business, Make Wise Choices

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It’s the start of a brand new year and many of you will have sat down over the last few days to make New Year’s resolutions for your business. I’m a big believer in the power of goal setting… so it may surprise you to know that I don’t advocate making resolutions at New Year.

There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with setting achievable and realistic targets for your business. Unfortunately, in my experience New Year’s resolutions don’t typically fall into this category.

Why is this? 

The problem with making resolutions at New Year is that we often get caught up in the the magic of the season and decide on targets that are just too lofty. No matter how determined you are, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to completely transform yourself or your business overnight!

Real change takes consistent work over time. In fact, psychologists have shown that real change is forged by slowly adapting our thinking in order to create new neural pathways. In other words, if you want to make a real difference in your business, you’ll need to concentrate on gradually changing your working habits in order to create better ones.

Progress is really important in business and it is vitally important to make sure you’re regularly setting and reviewing targets.

So how can you do this in a way that works?

If you’re determined to make a positive impact on your business in 2016, there are many effective ways to do it. Below are nine of the most useful pieces of goal-related advice I share with my coaching clients.

Keep these in mind when it comes to target setting and you’ll find your efforts are much more successful than they have been in the past.

  1. Forget year-long resolutions. Instead of setting one big goal for an entire twelve months, aim to work towards smaller quarterly or monthly targets.
  2. Think about the realistic rather than the ideal. After all, you can only start from where you are right now.
  3. Give yourself permission to consider what you really want for your business rather than what you think you should want.
  4. Don’t try to do it alone: appoint yourself an accountability partner to use as a sounding board and keep you in check.
  5. Sit down regularly to assess how well you’re doing, what’s gone well and what didn’t go the way you expected it to.
  6. Give yourself a pat on the back for each success, however small. Running a business isn’t easy and it’s important to give yourself the credit you deserve!
  7. Recognise that it’s generally the progress that matters, not the end result. Big changes happen one small step at a time.
  8. Don’t keep going back to goals that don’t work, if you haven’t been able to make progress towards them after numerous attempts, it may not be the right direction for you to be moving in.
  9. Focus on getting better at reflecting on your past successes and challenges. That way you’ll be better equipped to make wiser business choices in the future.

Did you find these suggestions useful? I’d love to share more advice with you throughout the year. Why not connect with me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to see regular blog post updates?  

Launch Yourself into 2016

18051322873_0f8eeb6f6d_zPhoto by Alexander Mueller

The last few days of the year are a common time to reflect on the previous twelve months. I know a lot of people who will be taking a few days to think about their successes of 2015, the things they enjoyed doing most and the things they wished they’d done differently.

It’s far from unusual at this point in December to look back at last year’s New Year’s Resolutions with a fair amount of guilt. How long did you manage to stick to your diet, savings plan or gym schedule once January rolled around?!

This year, I’m suggesting that you launch yourself into 2016 with a more long term plan in mind. Instead of choosing one of the standard easy-to-forget-about New Year’s Resolutions this New Year’s Eve, why not spend these last few December days really thinking about where you’d really like your life to be in twelve month’s time?

Depending on where you are right now, you may wish to consider…

  • Growing your business sustainably
  • Engineering a career change
  • Moving towards a better financial position
  • Improving your health
  • Making a positive impact on your community
  • Create a better work/life balance
  • Managing a significant lifestyle change
  • Working on your personal relationships
  • Designing a less stressful routine
  • Challenging yourself to further study

Once you’re certain about what you want to achieve, you’ll need think seriously about how you’re going to make it happen. There’s no reason to rush to do this before the calendars change! In fact, you may want to give yourself some recovery time after the excesses and social obligations of the December celebrations have come to an end.

I think the most important thing to remember about any resolution or goal you set for yourself is that things are unlikely to happen overnight. It takes time to make changes worth having, and it may be weeks or even months until you really see the benefit of your hard work.

Of course, if you’re really serious about what you want to achieve it will all be worth it! Here are a few suggestions from me on how to manage you goals and successfully launch yourself in to 2016.

Set SMART targets

The key reason why only 8% of people are successful in keeping their New Year’s Resolutions is because most of the goals we set for ourselves are unrealistic. Instead of setting yourself up to fail, I suggest sitting down with a notebook and pen and plotting out some SMART targets. SMART stands for specific, measured, attainable, realistic, time-bound. When you set goals using these pointers as a guideline, you can be sure you’re setting yourself a well-thought out realistic challenge.

Find yourself an accountability partner

It can be difficult to motivate yourself to keep working towards your goals when you don’t have anyone to hold you to account. The simple act of bringing someone else in on your plans will make you far more likely to stick to them! You may find that talking to your partner or a friend about your goals (and theirs!) will inspire you to keep going. If you think you’ll need a bit more of a push in the right direction, a professional coach could be the ideal accountability partner. They’ll be able to help you work towards targets, set new ones and effectively evaluate your progress through the year.

Put review dates in your diary

Many people start the year with big goals but quickly forget about them. If this is something you’ve done in the past, there’s an easy way to avoid it. Go through your diary now and add a monthly reminder to review progress on your 2016 goal. It doesn’t have to take long: half an hour is long enough to remind yourself what you’re working towards and what you need to do to get there.

Celebrate your successes along the way

Working towards a big goal can take a long time. Keep your enthusiasm along the way by making sure you celebrate each success on the journey, however small. Celebrations don’t have to be expensive or extravagant. Baking a cake, lighting candles at dinner, taking a day trip or gathering a few friends together can all be great ways to mark the occasion and keep you feeling positive.

If you’re feeling unsure about how to launch yourself into 2016, I’m here to help. Why not read about how coaching could benefit you?

The Twelve Business Challenges of Christmas (Part Two)

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Photo by Chris

Last week I shared part one of my thoughts on the twelve business challenges of Christmas. Your response was great: thank you. I’m sure many of you found it reassuring to know so many small business owners are experiencing similar challenges.

We’re getting closer and closer to the big day and though a lot of small businesses are excited about the celebrations ahead (me included!) it’s easy to feel as if your to do list will be never-ending.

Know the feeling? Go on, give yourself a few minutes of downtime to read through my Twelve Business Challenges of Christmas. If you missed part one, you can catch up here.

On the seventh day of Christmas… not having anyone to do an office Secret Santa with

At this time of year it’s easy to feel as if you’re missing out by not having colleagues. You may speak to friends and family members who’s workplaces are buzzing with festive spirit while you’re in your home office all alone. Of course, when you run a micro-business there’s no one to do a Secret Santa draw with!

On the eighth day of Christmas… having to balance increased social expectations

Christmas is often the time of year we receive the most invitations. Parties, get-togethers, performances, catch ups and dinners can quickly fill up your calendar leaving little time for anything else. This is a particular issue if you have young children off school for the holidays as the evening may be the only quiet time you get to catch up with work. It can be tough to say no to social expectations at Christmas, but you may need to turn down a few offers in order to stay on top of your business.

On the ninth day of Christmas… constant interruptions from delivery drivers

Buying online is an excellent way to reduce the pressure of Christmas shopping but it will mean your usually peaceful home office is subject to regular interruptions from incoming deliveries. This is annoying enough when the packages are your own… but anyone who works from home will know the added frustration of being summoned by the doorbell to take in packages for neighbours!

On the tenth day of Christmas… working at home surrounded by tasty Christmas goodies

Once the Christmas supermarket shop has been done and packed away, the temptation to raid the cupboards for goodies can be strong. If you do a desk-based job from home it can be easy to get into the habit of festive snacking while you work. The odd mince pie will feel like a real treat, but if the habit takes hold you may find excessive sugar starts to negatively affect your productivity.

On the eleventh day of Christmas… knowing when to give yourself time off

It’s easy to be extra hard on yourself when you’re the boss. I’ve spoken to countless small business owners who struggle with actually giving themselves time off. At this time of year you will need to grant permission for at least a little holiday. Some business owners find it helpful to turn things around and think about what they would expect from an employer: and then grant themselves those same benefits!

On the twelfth day of Christmas… re-adjusting to quiet time once it’s all over

The build up to Christmas can be massive. But once the presents have been opened, the food’s been eaten, your festive guests have gone home and the kids are back in school, you’ll need to re-adjust to the quiet time that’s left behind. A lot of people experience a wave of post-Christmas blues, but it can be even more of an adjustment if you’ve enjoyed a lot of social time over the holiday period when you usually spend the work day alone.

Have I missed your biggest Christmas challenges? Hop on over to the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page to get involved in my informal Christmas ‘support group’ for small business owners.

And of course: Merry Christmas! I’d like to say a big thank you to all my clients, associates, coaching friends and blog readers for your support this year. Here’s to a fantastic end to 2015!

The Twelve Business Challenges of Christmas (Part One)

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Photo by Alexander Baxevanis

The holiday season can be a wonderful time of year. In the weeks to come most people will be enjoying delicious food, festive drinks, gift-giving and family time. Of course, that’s not to say that December is without its challenges. In between the Christmas joy and cheer… many of us will be tempted to tear our hair out!

This is definitely true for business owners. Christmas can bring with it a whole host of business challenges, and some of them can be seriously tricky to navigate.

In the spirit of the season, I’ve put together the twelve business challenges of Christmas. You’ll find the first six below, please check back next Monday for part two.

On the first day of Christmas… having too much work

In some industries, December is the busiest time of year. This makes sense if you run a restaurant or gift shop and you’ll probably have drafted in extra staff to make sure things run smoothly. However, many small service-based businesses also find themselves rushed off their feet as their clients request all current projects finished off for the end of the year.

On the second day of Christmas… not having enough work

Of course, the opposite can also be a problem at this time of year. You may find things go quiet in the run up to the big day and the week between Christmas and New Year can often be a time for tumbleweeds! Though it’s great to be able to take some time out, a quiet December can create problems for January’s cashflow.

On the third day of Christmas… childcare providers breaking up for the holidays

If you have school aged children it can be tough to manage childcare during the two week Christmas holiday. You may also struggle with keeping your routine with pre-school children, as private nurseries and childminders often close their doors for a week or more in late December. Family time is precious, but if you’ve got a desperately long to do list it can be difficult to really appreciate it.

On the fourth day of Christmas… family commitments during business hours

School nativity plays, visits to Father Christmas’ grotto, visiting relatives and lunch invitations will often crop up during your key working hours. Finding a balance between taking time out to enjoy these and keeping on top of business commitments can be extremely frustrating.

On the fifth day of Christmas… Christmas party jealousy

Here’s one for micro and small business owners! All the talk of fancy Christmas parties might make you green with envy, especially if your spouse has one to go to and you’re not invited. Luckily, you may not have to miss out all together: many networking organisations hold special christmas dos designed for solopreneurs.

On the sixth day of Christmas… having to explain your business to elderly relatives

Many micro business owners and freelancers will have to tackle the yearly task of fielding questions from confused relatives about exactly what it is they do. Here’s a suggestion: consider it an opportunity to practice your elevator pitch!

Can you identify with these business challenges?! I’ll be running an informal Christmas ‘support group’ for small business owners on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page! Why not pop over and share your festive business woes?

How to Holiday-Proof Your Micro Business

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When I tell you that there are only seventeen days till Christmas, how does that make you feel?

If the emotions that spring to mind are excitement or sereneness, that’s great news. But if the thought of tinsel and present-wrapping has you panicking, you may want to stop and have a good think about how you’re going to handle the holidays ahead.

Running a micro business can be challenging all year round. When you’re in charge of a one-person-band it can often be tricky to know where your personal life ends and your business starts. Many micro-business owners work from home, which can make the festive period particularly hard to navigate.

No need to worry! There are plenty of things you can do to holiday-proof your micro business and ensure that things stay running smoothly despite the festive chaos.

Here are a few suggestions from me:

Find a back up workspace

Many of the micro business owners I work with are also parents. This means that over the school holidays they often lose their quiet home-based office to a flurry of child-related activities! Depending on the age of your children and the availability of childcare, there may not be a way to avoid this. In these cases, the most productive thing you can do for your business might be to find an alternative workspace out of the house. The library, your local coffee shop or a co-working space could be a real business saver!

Diarise when you’re working and when you’re not

Almost all of us will want to take a well-deserved chunk of time away from work over the Christmas period. When you run a micro business it can be tempting to aim to squeeze in a couple of hours work even when you’re supposed to be relaxing. My advice is that you shouldn’t do this! All business owners need downtime, and the festive period is an excellent time to shut up shop and while away a few chilled days with family. Decide now when you’re going to work and when you’re going to take time off, write those dates in your diary and stick to them!

Handle the Christmas shopping online

When there’s little separation between work and personal life, sometimes the only way to keep things calm on the business front is to make sure your personal tasks and errands are under control. Christmas shopping can be very stressful: so it’s wise to get it out of the way as early as possible. Buying presents and the festive food shop online can help keep seasonal stress under control and means you’re less likely to have to lose valuable working hours battling the shops.

Plan recovery days

Christmas and New Year is a time for family, and many of us will be planning to spend time with family. This may mean traveling to see them or perhaps inviting them to visit us. Whichever way round you’re planning on doing this, do remember that it’s likely to be more time consuming and tiring that you think! I advise yourself to schedule a ‘recovery day’ either side of family visits where you don’t expect to get a great deal of work done. Forgive yourself for this lack of productivity and know that in the long run you’ll reap the benefits of giving yourself that time to recharge.

If you’re a micro business owner I’d love to hear how you’re planning to manage the festive period. Are you counting the days till you sign off for the break or are you dreading the whole thing? You can share your tips and insights with me here.

The Business Lesson I Learnt From Miracle on 34th Street

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I believe that one of the key factors in being successful in business is to never stop educating yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been running your business for twenty weeks or twenty years: there’s always a new lesson to learn.

Occasionally these business lessons crop up in unusual places. I noticed one recently when I watched the classic Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street. 

In the film, a man working as Santa Claus in a large New York department store decides to approach his job a little differently. When a child asks for a specific toy for Christmas, Santa tells their parents where they can find the toy at the best price… meaning that he often sends them to a competing store.

At first, this policy seems counter-intuitive. After all, isn’t Santa telling customers to go and spend their money elsewhere? It soon becomes apparent, however, that by putting the parents first, Santa gains their trust and turns them into fiercely loyal customers.

The idea of putting your customers first, even before profits, sounds so obvious. And yet often we forget how important this is! I’ve worked with many business owners who are struggling to grow their business simply because they’re lost sight of who their customers are and what they need.

This is something I have always tried to keep a firm hold on. In fact, I like to think that I have a fairly similar policy to Santa Claus in my own business!

I offer each potential coaching client a complimentary initial session for us to get to know each other. Coaching can be such a valuable tool: but it only works if you’re working with the right coach at the right time. During these initial sessions I am able to assess whether a client is really ready for coaching and whether I feel we make a good match. If they’re not ready for coaching, or if I don’t think I’m the right coach to help them navigate their current challenges: I’ll tell them.

In most cases I’m able to make alternative recommendations. It may be that there are other resources that would be most useful to that customer, such as a book or training course. If necessary I can also usually recommend a coach who will be better suited to them at that time.

This policy doesn’t just exist at the early stages of customer relationships. It’s something I endeavour to keep in mind throughout the process. Sometimes my customers will reach a point when they’re ready to move on to a different type of coaching such as a more structured ‘growth coach’ programme. Again, I always tell my clients when I feel that this is the case and make sure they are fully aware of the various options that are open to them.

Experience tells me that customers really appreciate this honesty. Some of them show this appreciation by returning to me further down the line when they’re ready to work with me, while others show it by recommending my services to colleagues or contacts.

Like Santa Claus in Miracle in 34th Street, I believe that giving your customers what they need is the best way for any business to function, even if in the short term it means telling them that a competitor is offering something that will better fit their needs.

Have you ever learnt a business lesson in an unexpected place? I’d love to hear the story! You can tell me all about it on Facebook.

7 Signs Your Work/Life Balance Needs Some Attention

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Almost all of us are striving to achieve some kind of work/life balance. This can be particularly challenging for business owners: juggling business administration, important work and client communication can be difficult enough before you add in personal relationships, childcare, housework, social events and ‘me’ time!

If you haven’t given much thought to the health of your work/life balance recently, it may be time to think about giving it a bit of TLC.

Here are seven signs that attention is needed:

1. You can’t remember the last time you spent time on your own

During busy periods of life, solo ‘me’ time is often the first thing we sacrifice. If you’re spending your time rushing straight from work into family commitments with no breathing space in between, you may want to reassess how you can find time for yourself.

2. You feel anxious, depressed or irritable at work

Are you enjoying running your business as much as you have in the past? Be honest! If the answer is no it doesn’t make you a bad business owner. It may just mean that your work/life balance has tipped to an unhealthy point. Being more intentional about spending time away from your business is likely to give you the headspace to fall back in love with it when you are there.

3. You’re struggling to communicate effectively with loved ones

Communication problems can be so frustrating, especially when we experience them with loved ones. If you’ve been finding it difficult to talk with your spouse, partner or children, it could be because your business has been monopolising too much of your mental energy.

4. You constantly think about work… even when you’re not there

Even the most passionate business owner needs mental space away from work! If you think about your next professional steps all the time, it’s likely to lead to exhaustion. A good way to deal with this can be to dedicate specific non-working time periods. Find time in your routine when you don’t have to think about work at all.

5. You haven’t been able to fit in any exercise for weeks

Exercise is an important part of both our physical and metal well-being. Whether you like to hit the gym, take a yoga class once a week or get your exercise by taking the dog for long relaxed walks, skipping this will have a real impact over time.

6. You feel guilty and you’re not sure why

Unfortunately it’s common for busy people to have a lingering feeling of guilt. This can often be due to feeling like they should be working when they’re with family and conversely that they should be with family when they’re working! However, just because a lot of us suffer from this: it doesn’t mean it’s normal. If you’re feeling this way, it could help to take some time out to reassess where you are in life and what your priorities are.

7. You’re feeling run down and burnt out

Our bodies are very clever and usually find a way to let us know when all is not well. If you’ve been feeling generally run down for a while now, it may be time to listen to those symptoms.

Think you need to give your lifestyle choices some attention? It might not be as hard as you think. Addressing an out-of-sync work/life balance could be as simple as taking a week off. Often even the smallest changes can have a big impact. If you’re unsure about what the next steps are for you, I might be able to offer some guidance. Why not get in touch?  

How to Effectively Prepare Your Business for the End of the Year

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Mid-November may still seem a little bit early to start talking about the festive season, but it’s certainly not too early to start thinking about preparing your business for the end of the year.

Most business owners won’t be ending the fiscal year till March or April, but the end of the calendar year can still feel very significant. I think that the end of one year and the start of another is an excellent time to review how things are going and decide where you want to go next.

Here are some thoughts from me on how to make sure your business is prepared for the end of the year.

Decide on holiday time off and let your customers know

We all deserve some time off over the festive season! If you haven’t already, now is the time to choose your dates and let your customers and staff know.

If you have a retail premises you’ll need to publicise any seasonal closures in branch and on your website. If you sell products you will need to let buyers know about potential delays in shipping. If you are a consultant you will want to block the days out in your diary and let your retainer clients know that you won’t be available during that time.  

Set ‘last order’ dates

The run up to Christmas can be a very busy time. This is definitely true in the retail and hospitality sectors where it can be the most profitable time of the year. December can also be manic for service providers and consultants as many customers will want to get their projects ‘done’ in time for the new year.

Make sure you don’t spend the last few days before Christmas in a panic by setting non-negotiable last order dates now. This may mean last dates for shipping out products, or it may mean the last dates where you’ll accept work to be done for a 2015 deadline.

Evaluate this year’s business resolutions and your progress

Most business owners set business resolutions for the new year. What were your plans at the start of 2015? Even if you haven’t actively been working towards them for the last few months, the end of the year is the ideal time to take a look at how you fared. You may discover that you did more work towards your yearly goals than you thought… or you may find that outside forces meant other areas of your business had to take priority.

Whatever your findings, taking the time to sit down and do a yearly review will help you to better understand how to move forward.

Start to develop SMART targets for the year ahead

Once you’ve completed your yearly review for 2015, you’ll be in an excellent position to begin to develop SMART targets for 2016. If you’re not familiar with the term, SMART is an acronym that stands for:

Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-related

My clients and I find this model really helpful when setting targets. If you use this you’ll be able to ensure you come up with goals that you’ll be able to stick to.

Remind yourself what you have to celebrate

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you just how important it is to celebrate your business achievements. Your successes for 2015 might have been big… or they might have been small. Either way, remind yourself what has been great about your business this year and set some time aside to celebrate! Being a business owner is rarely easy and we all deserve a special acknowledgement of how hard we’ve worked.

How will you be effectively preparing your business for the end of the year? If you have any tips that haven’t been mentioned here, I’d be keen to hear them. Why not share them on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page?  

Are You An Employer or a Potential-Optimiser?

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Here’s a question: how much do you value the people who work in your company? The answer to this might seem obvious: without them it’s possible your business would grind to a halt. And yet, many of the business owners I encounter aren’t showing that appreciation in any real terms.

The reality is that your business is only as good as the people in your team. Your ideas could be spot on, but if the people on the ground aren’t implementing them in the right way then those ideas are unlikely to succeed. This could be a key reason why your business is failing to thrive and grow.

Personally, I believe that business owners should think of themselves not just as employers but as potential-optimisers. When we choose to employ someone, we typically do so because we like something about what they have to offer. Often this spark is due to potential rather than the finished product. Someone who has never worked in your business before is unlikely to give you exactly what you need on their first day.

Even the most qualified employees need to be nurtured. The most effective employers are the ones who are able to identify and grow the potential of their staff.

Are you just employing staff or are you actively working to build their potential? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

When was the last time you evaluated your staff?

Staff evaluations and progress reports can be a generic administration exercise… or they can be a brilliant opportunity to assess areas for learning and improvement. Which are they for you? If it’s the former, you may want to think about setting some time aside to genuinely consider how your staff are performing and what might be standing in the way of their development.

Have you invested financially in training your team?

Staff training can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from it. There can be a huge amount to gain from good quality training. Training investment could save you from having to employ a new person, as you may be able to train an existing employee to take on new responsibility.

Do you ever block out work time for professional development?

Potential-optimisation isn’t just about paying course fees. Professional development also happens in the workplace. This can be in the form of evaluation meetings, mentoring, team building sessions and staff forums.

Do you accept what is or do you set out to improve?

When your employees aren’t performing to the standard you expect them to, you have a number of options. You could seek to replace them, you could ignore your disappointment and accept the status quo… or you could support them to improve.

How confident are you when it comes to recognising potential?

Being able to recognise true potential in other people is a very useful skill. Not all of us have it, and you may need to be honest with yourself about whether you do. If you don’t, there are ways around it. You may want to develop your own skills in this area, or you could choose to work with a trusted professional to help assess your team.

Do you value one-to-one coaching with your team members?

When was the last time you sat down with each member of staff in turn and had a one-on-one conversation? This kind of communication can have a lot of value, and not just for staff development. You could also learn a lot from your employees! If this kind of relationship building isn’t your strength, there is plenty of professional coaching help available.

Are you building your own potential?

This last point is an important one. Are you working to optimise your own potential? If the answer is no, ask yourself why. All of us are works-in-progress and none of us should stand still when it comes to professional development. If you find it difficult to value your own potential, it’s likely that you’ll feel the same way about that of your employees.

If your answers to the above questions suggest that you’re not doing much potential-optimisation at the moment, it might be time to think about starting. When you support your team to develop their skills, you will indirectly be working to tend the future of your business. Once again: your business is only as good as the people in your team.

The Glorification of Busy

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In the past few years I’ve noticed a real shift in how we perceive our schedules. Many of us only seem to think we’re being productive if we feel rushed off our feet all the time. This  phenomenon has been dubbed the ‘glorification of busy’ and is something that’s been reported a great deal in the media. I’ve read thoughtful articles dealing with this on The Huffington Post, Yahoo News and Becoming Minimalist.

There are many reasons why this attitude to busy isn’t necessarily a helpful one;

  • It can stop us from focusing on the now
  • It can lead us to overwork ourselves
  • It can prevent us from having meaningful connections with other people
  • It can skew our perception of our value
  • It can make us forget to make time for R&R
  • It can drive us to fill our time with ‘busy work’ just to feel effective

It’s this last point that I really want to focus on here. When you run your own business, it’s natural to experience troughs and peaks in your workload. If you are glorifying ‘busyness’, it’s likely that you will be expecting to be in a peak at all times… and you may feel you’re failing when you hit a trough.

I’ve come across a lot of business owners who deal with troughs by making themselves feel busy by other means. In fact, I’m pretty sure we’re all guilty of this! How often do you spend work time constantly checking emails, spending hours connecting with new people on social media, researching business events, organising paperwork or doing other non-essential admin tasks?

The problem with this kind of busy-work is that it makes us feel like we’re busy and effective… when we’re not actually moving forwards at all.

If you find yourself facing a quiet period in your business, whether it’s an afternoon, a week or a month, why not admit it? Accepting that you have some space in your schedule is much healthier than fooling yourself into feeling rushed off your feet with endless busy work.

Allow yourself to admit that you’re in a quiet period, and you could put that time to far better use. You could consider:

Revisiting your business plan

Business plans aren’t supposed to be static documents. If you have some breathing space, why not sit down with a fresh cup of coffee and review yours? You might be reminded of targets you’d forgotten about and the process could even spark some big new ideas.

Working on a ‘one day’ project

Do you often find yourself thinking you’ll work on a project ‘one day’ when you have time? Why not make today that ‘one day’?! Quiet time can be really valuable in business as it allows you to do things like develop products and services, create marketing campaigns, write new content and explore strategy ideas.

Setting some new targets

It’s difficult to find time to set achievable new targets when your diary is packed full all the time. If you do have a bit of downtime, think about putting some of it aside to set some really intentional new targets.

Connecting with a mentor

Being a business owner can be lonely! If you feel you would benefit from a new perspective, why not consider connecting with a mentor? You could use social media to reach out to someone in your industry you look up to, or you could consider partnering up with another business owner in a similar position to you. Think you’d benefit from some more structured support? Business coaching might be a great step forward for you. Here’s how you could benefit.

Enjoying some time off

We all need a proper rest from time to time! If you have some quiet time, don’t be afraid to use it to recuperate. Time spent recharging your batteries is never wasted: you’ll be able to return to work energised and ready to be productive again.

Want some more ideas? Take a look at my list of productive things you can do for your business in ninety minutes.