Today's blog post was written by my good friend, Jennifer Flynn, of The Business Maven. Enjoy!
What would it take to get more from your business?
For some business owners, this is a bit of a conundrum because they are often already feeling overworked and under-rewarded. Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. People often assume that business owners have more freedom than those that are in an employee situation. More often, the truth is, you don’t clock out….EVER. Your business is always on your mind. If you aren’t hustling then business isn’t coming through the door and mouths don’t get fed and roofs aren’t over head, clothes aren’t on backs …you know the story. Perhaps more accurately, ‘the story that we tell”.
Is it true?
How do you know?
What if it doesn’t have to be this way?
What if you could get more out of your business so you could get more out of your life? It’s part strategy and part mindset. You have to have a clear plan of action and a clear belief that it is possible and be willing to tell the story of the outcome you want even if it goes against the grain and is the road less traveled.
What if you had a crystal clear personal vision that was in alignment with your core values and allowed for all your hopes and dreams? Your business is the vehicle by which these hopes and dreams come true. So often we get caught in the rat race of being a human ‘doing’ vs a human ‘being’ that we forget to really live. We get so bound by the work that we fail to enjoy its fruits…or even remember they exist.
I have a personal mission to help business owners get more out of each day in their business. Your day is simply your life in miniature. How do your days look? Are you counting the blessings and the joys of the accomplishments or looking at the to-do list and feeling like you fell short?
With the right systems and structures in your business you can have more freedom, more fun AND more profit. That’s right I used ‘structure and systems’ and ‘FREEDOM’ all in the same sentence. Structure is what will provide you freedom. It is the systems that give you time and energy back so you have freedom to do more. More things that make an impact, more things that bring you joy, more things that give back to the world, more things that get you closer to your personal vision and the lifestyle you want to lead… MORE EVERYTHING!
It is always my sincerest hope that people are doing things they love to earn a living or grow a business around and that you get joy in your work days. The reality is it can’t all be work. Even for those of us who can’t tell the difference between working and playing because we love our work so much…we still need time unplugged to recharge and connect with friends and love ones.
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.” —Lawrence Pearsall Jaacks
Everyone should enjoy that which he describes. It is my personal favorite quote.
Most often business owners simply lack the tools to get the most out of their bank of time and energy each day, week, month and year. Check out this FREE tool I created for you to master your time and productivity and harness the power of your business….so you can get more freedom to lead your life by design. If you want to take the implementation deeper, check out the free masterclass that comes with it.
I asked a lot of questions here…ponder them. Share in the comments below. What did you come up with? Where do you need the most support?
Have you heard of the Strengths Finders assessment? The tool, discussed in the book of the same name by Don Clifton, which provides you with your top 5 strengths. These are qualities that positively define the work that you do. It’s actually very handy. I have asked clients to use this tool as it quickly gives insights on what they are great out and how that affects the work they are (or are not doing). The strengths fall into four categories: strategic thinking, relationship, executing and influencing. It is my guess that if you call yourself an achiever (one of the words on the Strengths Finders assessment), you have one or more strengths in the executing category. You are a ‘get things done’ kind of a person.
You get things done no matter what. It is in your nature. It’s why people turn to you and why they know they can rely on you when the project is important.
My Strengths Finders words are Input, Harmony, Analytical, Discipline and Learner. To boil that down, I like to gather information, make plans, get things done and ensure others are happy about the plan. I can relate to you going and doing all the time. If you are at all like me, you may not know HOW to pause and relax.
Recently, I met with a very powerful group of women, led by Victoria Whitfield. We come together live (virtually) twice a month. The discussion this month centered around the energy that we take on from other people and refreshing our own energy. I was not alone in feeling that this topic really hit home. After a very difficult month of May, personally, I realized that I have not yet let go of or refreshed my energy. In other words, I have not taken a break.
After the meeting, I spoke to another attendee, an entrepreneur. Both of us were feeling emotional and needed to talk through the experience. Even though our reasons were different, our response to the stress we were experiencing was the same:
Is this you, too? Are you part of the ‘Get It Done’ Tribe??
If so, I want you to give YOURSELF permission to take a break. Listen to your body, listen to your mind, listen to your spirit.
If you have a tendency to put others’ needs first as well, then this permission slip is especially important.
Here are your next steps:
1 - Read the permission slip (print it if need be and post it on your wall)
2 - Schedule a time to take inaction :-)
Here are a few ideas of things probably not on your to-do list that will not help you pay the bills (they will but that is another post!) Bath, journal, long walk in the woods, sappy movie with popcorn & wine, cry, nap, talk on the phone to a friend, massage, yoga, run, dance (naked in the rain for bonus points!), belly dancing, read a beach novel.
3 - Add breaks to your schedule. Saturday morning, ‘me’ time or whatever works best for you. Put it on the calendar. Non-negotiable.
You cannot go and get things done all the time. You cannot be stuck in ‘on’ position. But sometimes what we are stuck on is ‘not feeling’. Allow yourself permission to relax, let the emotions flow and get back to your ‘to-do’ list after.
You can also check out The Balance Maven® for more tips on how to carve out time to care for yourself. My friend, Jennifer Flynn, is a pro at teaching busy entrepreneurs how to balance work and play. She is a business and lifestyle strategist who specializes in helping overwhelmed entrepreneurs and small business owners end the war between work and play.
As the owner of The Balance Maven® and creator of its signature program Balance YOUniversity™ she supports clients with both her Balance Maven Business™ and Balance Maven Life™ platforms. It is her mission to show you that you CAN have both personal and professional fulfillment. From tangible processes to achieve what you want, to creating superior time and money saving business strategies; she helps you build effective systems to streamline for efficiency and end overwhelm, one step at a time. In maximizing productivity you will create more free time with profitable results leading to a healthier business and a happier you. You were born to have your cake and eat it too!
Visit her website and take her Balance IQ quiz to see how well YOU protect your "me" time.
Having a fulfilling career and a happy, well-supported family life, while feeling energetic and focused IS possible.
It’s open enrollment time in the Momentum Accountability Program. This is where YOU get the support you need to get your big goals done and the reminders you need to take care of yourself in the process. With all that you are seeking to achieve, doesn’t it make sense, to be fully supported in the process? Find out more and apply today. (Applying is free however space is limited. Applications are reviewed ensure this is a good fit for all!)
When my head is full, when life is getting on top of me, when I feel as if the pressure cooker is going to explode, I take myself for a walk.
Walking in open space and in the fresh air has the magical effect of slowing things down, I can feel my shoulders drop as I walk. Walking anywhere works but if you can get into nature then that’s the best medicine of all and I cannot return from a walk in a bad mood.
By going out, you take yourself away from the usual distractions like the people and situations which often cause the stress you might be feeling. I would urge you to turn your phone off so you’re not disturbed and give this time to you. It’s an investment and one you will reap the benefits from especially if you start to do it regularly.
One of my favourite places to walk is Epping Forest which is close to where I live and where I can walk for miles if I choose. You could do a few circuits of a lake though, walk along a canal or river or in a park. You don’t have to walk all the time either, you can choose to sit.
Try to let go of everything that’s filling your mind. Look around you, breathe in and feel the relaxation enter your body. On breathing out, imagine all that stress and tension leaving you.
Visualise your troubles being carried off in the wind and out of reach.
Shake your body out and again imagine that you are letting all the negative thoughts go.
There is always something to seen wherever you walk. Nature changes from season to season and you may just become tempted to see the year through on your walks. Who would want to miss the buds unfurling; baby ducks or swans on the lake; fungi in the Fall and those glorious colours as the year draws to a close.
If you aren’t in reflective mode and rather feel frustration and annoyance, then you may just want to pound those feelings into the path as you walk. It may become part of a march for a while but there are no rules, so do your own thing, whatever works for you.
I find spending some time in mindful walking useful, you can do this by bringing all senses to play and looking, listening, feeling, tasting and hearing but I find it’s even better to focus on one sense at a time. So you might spend 10 minutes just focusing on what you can hear for example. The more you do it, the better you get at it. I find that I have become expert at spotting fungi from afar!!
If you’re interested in exploring this further, visit http://womenwalkingwomentalking.com/7-days-of-mindful-walking/ and download my FREE 7 days of Mindful walking
When walking mindfully, you are so in the moment and when you are in that place you cannot think about anything else. This is a huge bonus.
Walking can become the prevention to stress too, especially long term stress. By getting into the habit of bringing this everyday activity into your life, it becomes a tool which stops stress building.
I burnt out about 5 years ago, stress was high and walking was one of the mainstays in my recovery. I no longer have that long term stress, sure I get the immediate stuff that everyone gets, but nothing like it used to be. In fact I feel very strongly that walking saved my life. I’m in the middle of writing a book about that and if you’d like to express your interest in a copy, then just email me at email@example.com and I’ll let you know when it’s complete.
You don’t want to admit it. To your clients and your boss and the stakeholders you report to, you are ALWAYS on your game. You are ALWAYS in the flow. But if we were honest with ourselves and others, we’re not.
In trying to be always on, always available, always producing, we have created an unsustainable stress state in our minds and bodies. Midlife crisis? Bankruptcy? Heart attack?
There is a fear underlying all of your activities that keep you pushing all day long:
Fear of failure
Fear of being ‘found out’
Fear of losing it all
Fear of never being able to recreate what you built
Fear of losing the ‘big’ client
Fear of dropping the ball
Fear of (fill in your truth)
Let’s Go to the Beach
Nature gives us many good examples to base our own behaviour. The ocean waves ebb and flow on a daily basis (multiple times per day) and there are seasons of higher tides and even unique events when the water rises or lowers substantially.
Can you imagine if the waves were only ever ‘coming in’? There would be no ebb, no rest for the wave to gather strength and move forward.
The weather across the globe is expressed in seasons. In some places four distinct seasons of dormancy, rebirth, growth and clearing/decay, while in others there are two a rainy (flow) and a dry (ebb).
Can you imagine if the dry season did not follow the wet? There would be no sunshine. If winter did not preceed spring? There would be no rest to prepare for the explosion of growth.
So, what, I have a report due.
You are probably thinking I have gone a little hippie chick on you, I’ll take it :-) But truthfully, you have bills to pay, budgets to meet, reports to produce, widgets to create and distribute and right now, how do you get it done?
Stop pushing and take a break. When we are in a stress state having over-extended our flow state and moved into overwhelmed, then we no longer think clearly and creatively. We no longer have space for new ideas, we no longer see all sides of the problem being solved.
I recently read that people who have fewer than six hours of sleep in a night, are three times more likely to get into a car accident. With less than six hours of sleep our bodies and minds do not fully reset and clear the ‘gunk’ from the previous day.
Acknowledge the ebb and flow. Not only do you experience this daily but weekly, monthly, seasonally and even across years. Instead of fighting against it, allow yourself to see the ebb as a time to reset, gain resources, learn, rest, step outside of the box and gain strength to flow again. Plan for and accept time in your day, week, etc to pause.
One Momentum Program member, an accountant, recently said this, “My revenue is in target to match or be slightly better than last year, but I'm working less and less stressed!! I'm maintaining the same game plan today. Keep producing, take lots of breaks and something fun at the end of the day.” You can hear that he is working hard and ‘pushing’ and then also taking breaks to reset and work with his natural rhythm.
Clear the clutter. The physical act of removing the stuff from your space that is old, outdated, broken has a cleansing effect on your spirit and your brain. The results are similar to clearing a clogged pipe. You will find as you complete the clearing process, ideas begin to flow, you mood will lift and your energy level will increase. What can you let go of today to make space (mental and physical) for where you are going?
If you are stuck in the process, let me know. I would love to have a conversation with you about how to move forward.
Monthly Organizing Classes are available on the 3rd Thursday of the month via Zoom. Register Here.
Organizing is not about how much stuff you can get rid of. Truly, there were always be more to part with. There will be one more piece of paper, one more article of clothing, one more book. If you always focus on parting with your stuff, you will never feel a sense of accomplishment or that they job is ‘done.
We focus on decluttering because it is the first step in the organizing process. But, organizing is not only a matter of decluttering. The organizing process has three steps:
1 - Let go of the excess
2 - Group like items together
3 - Assign a home
And while you may begin at step 1, you may find yourself doing a dance: 1, 2, 3, 1, 1, 2, 3, 1…. And so on.
You may also get ‘stuck’ anywhere in the process. But, let’s say you have already achieved step 1, “Let go of the excess.” Now what?
It is time to move on to group items together and assigning a home. It’s that ‘Assigning a home’ part that most people think of when they think of ‘organization’. This is the step where you can pull out your Container Store Catalog and find the baskets that match your decor.
Where should your stuff live?
Here are my favorite ways to keep things in order:
1 - Keep items close to where they are used, even if this means that you have multiples of the same item. It is ok, you want your things at your fingertips when you need them.
2 - Keep the items you use the most within arms reach. These ‘arms reach’ items should be used daily, otherwise, you need to put them away completely (that’s the next rule).
3 - Keep items you use sometimes (weekly/monthly) in closets, drawers, shelves, etc. It may take you two minutes to retrieve the item but it is worth having it out of the way so that you can live your life.
4 - Keep the items you rarely or never use in storage closets, the attic, garage overhead storage or off site. It may take a trip to retrieve the items but it is ok, you are reclaiming space for your daily activities.
5 - Use bins that match your decor, fit the item and also work with how you think. Those wicker baskets may be pretty but if they don’t fit the items you are trying to store, you don’t like the feel of them and they hide the stuff inside (and you are a visual person) then they are not going to work. There is no one size fits all for organizing products.
6 - Splurge a little, not a lot, on organizing products that will last. Splurge a little because having a broken box or shelf is just a pain and will make you feel like you are not making progress. But don’t over do it, your organizing needs change regularly as you focus on different areas of your life.
7 - Focus on the outcome you are creating. Determine first what your goal is in this organizing process. For instance, if your goal is to create a sense of calm in your space, then use this as your guide to each step. You can ask, “Will this item help me feel calm in my space?” “Will storing this item here, help me feel calm?” “Will using these storage containers help me feel calm?” (Insert your focus word in place of ‘calm’)
Remember it is a process not a one time activity never to be repeated. The process goes in cycles where sometimes you are focusing on letting go and sometimes you are assigning a home. Your goal is to create a feeling not to let go of your stuff.
If you are stuck in the process, let me know. I would love to have a conversation with you about how to move forward.
Monthly Organizing Classes are available on the 3rd Thursday of the month via Zoom. Register Here.
You will never get it all done
Was that a bit harsh? I am sorry. But the truth is that you will never get it all done. Your current list is too long. And even if it wasn’t too long, you still wouldn’t get it all done. And that is ok.
Throughout the day, every day, your brain is working and making connections. You are constantly thinking of ideas and great next steps to act on to move your business and your life forward. I bet, in any given day you probably think of at least ten more items to add to your to do list. Some things are small: pick up stamps, put my winter coat away, reschedule the dentist. Other items are bigger: redesign the website, begin researching vacation rentals, launch new product. Aside from those items, other peoples’ items start popping onto the list, fires erupt and need to be handled, occasionally a deadline appears that you had forgotten about and is suddenly a top priority.
It is ok that you will never get it all done. Because it was never about getting it all done. Ever.
I used to be a goal setter. Until a few months ago, I still taught often on setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. I taught about making to-do lists and master to-do lists and using the methodology outlined in David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done. The problem was that when you focus so fiercely on the goal and the to-do list you lose track of the progress you made in trying. You think you are successful when you check something off. (This is coming from a lover of lists and checking things off).
But there will always be at least ONE MORE THING you can add to the list! It may feel like you will never succeed because you never get it ALL done. Is this you?
I’d like to offer an alternative. In this method you create a vision for where you are going and then you notice all the ways that what you want already exists for you in your life. (It’s a cool experiment, try it!). Next, you look at one way you can bring your vision into your life and you take one step to make it happen.
VIola! You get to celebrate! When you do, you tell yourself and your Creator, you are successful! Being successful causes happy, excited feelings to flow through your body. You think, “Wow! That was awesome! I am amazing! Look at me creating what I envision for my life!” Then, you do it again and you are actually making meaningful progress on creating the life you always wanted.
You didn’t get it all done but you you were a complete success anyway. How awesome is that?
Feel free to share with me, your vision and how you are creating that for yourself right now. And, if you would like to learn how to transition from your to-do list, schedule a time to chat. I’d love to walk you through it.
Being an entrepreneur and business owner is hard! Once you have your business up and running it's not uncommon to hit a few snags: scalability, staff retention, launching growth projects, getting enough sleep!