As a small business owner, there will be times that you will feel stressed, anxious, deflated…………and in the words of Tom Jones………………it’s not unusual.
Business owners are often said to wear many different hats. Not actual hats……….
There’s operational matters, staffing, scheduling, keeping clients and customers happy, marketing and selling, dealing with complaints, implementing new systems, handling or overseeing finance………….the list goes on.
In today’s world, all of the above moving parts are moving faster, so it’s no surprise that more small business owners are reporting feelings of loneliness, exhaustion and related mental health issues.
There are lots of ways to help you manage yourself when you are in the middle of such circumstances. Here are our top tips for relieving the thoughts and emotions that overcome us all from time time in business.
Overwhelm, Not Stress
First of all, call it “overwhelm” instead of stress. This might sound silly, but it can make a difference. Overwhelm sounds like something more technical, something you can get control of. Stress sounds like it’s uncontrollable, outside of your control and caused by someone or something else.
When your mind is racing and thoughts are coming faster than you can deal with……………..stop – literally stop – stop everything you’re doing. Say the word “Stop” either aloud or in your head. Feel the impact that has on your thoughts.
In these circumstances, trying to plough on and work your way through is rarely a good idea. Stop working for 5 minutes, take a breath, go outside (without your phone), take a short walk. Something to break the flow of thoughts causing you to feel this way.
Try to focus on the sky, the wind, the traffic………..anything else that you can concentrate on, listen to, and be fully attentive. Music can also help (as long as it’s something upbeat of course!)
Go back to your normal way of working. For example, if you draw up a schedule for the week of what needs to be done, look at that schedule again. Bring yourself (and your team) back to working off that list, despite the fact that numerous other demands and requests have come along. If you can fit in these extras, then work out when it will be done and who will do it. Be honest with clients and customers, don’t over-promise and under-deliver.
Do One Thing
Get one thing done that will give you immediate and maximum satisfaction. Make it one thing from your weekly schedule. If needs be, pick a smaller task that you can get done quickly. If it’s a bigger task that will take a bit longer, down tools on everything else, hold your calls and get stuck in. Focus on the progress you are making on the task and not the entire task. Break it down into smaller steps and tick these off as they’re completed.
Clear your desk, close down emails, notifications, even your mobile. It’s time to get to grips with things that demand your attention or distract you from what needs to be done. Having a better, more organised working environment will help reduce the feeling of overwhelm and improve your own productivity on an ongoing basis.
The biggest thing to help is learning to say “No”. This takes practice but saying no to things will ensure you don’t get overwhelmed. The trick is learning how to say no. This can include saying “Not right now” or knowing what can (and should) be delegated. No doesn’t mean no forever. It usually means not today, or this week. So don’t feel guilty about saying “No”. Clients and customers are usually very understanding and will be happy that you’re being clear on when things will actually get done. Saying “Yes” is easy but it’s not the right things to do if you can’t fulfil expectations.
The tips above are ones we’ve used ourselves in our business. They can be applied immediately when you are right in the middle of the over-whelming thoughts and feelings.
Alongside these tips, make sure you’re doing the things – prevention is always better than cure:
- Take regular breaks during the day
- Exercise – make it part of your routine
- Drink plenty of water and less caffeine
- Keep a daily journal or diary to jot down your thoughts
- Implement efficient email etiquette
- Mindfulness and meditation – these techniques can really boost your mind fitness