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Time is Ticking Away

“How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” (Dr. Seuss)b2ap3_thumbnail_drseuss.jpg

Maybe it is just me (although I suspect not!) but this quote definitely sums up my head space at this time of year. Most of us know the basic ‘rules’ of time management, which include tools such as making lists, prioritising tasks and breaking larger tasks into more manageable chunks. But have you stopped to consider that it may not be possible to ever be truly ‘on top’ of all your work? It can take us a while to learn that each day has a finite amount of time and that we cannot work until we drop!

For a perfectionist like me, this has been a steep learning curve over the past nine years of running a business. I have had to learn not only to prioritise tasks in order to get through my work, but also prioritise to the extent that some things may remain on the ‘to do if I get time’ list.

But once I learnt that hard lesson, it actually became easier to make better choices about what I was going to work on. It means that things rarely fall through the cracks now because I have a better (more realistic) system for my workload.

The trick though is to identify the right things to work on and then to work on them! It can be easy to react to the random things that pop into our inbox or across our desks and be distracted by them. So it takes deliberate (ongoing) choices of what to pay attention to and a commitment to getting those things done.


 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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An ode to home based businesses

To kick off the new year, I am focusing on home based businesses: because I know there are many of you out there!

b2ap3_thumbnail_woman_work_home_sml.pngMost of us are aware of the pros and cons of working from home. And if you have been operating for any length of time, you will know how much hard work it is too. So here are some tips that will help you to maximise the positives:

• Take regular breaks. This can be tricky at home because it can be easy to be distracted by the home environment. So make sure your breaks involve physical exercise or even just getting outside to eat lunch. And if you do want to undertake ‘home’ tasks, make sure you put a time limit on them so they don’t eat into your work time.

• Create designated work times. These times should also be communicated to your family and friends so that you can maintain uninterrupted work wherever possible. Many home based business owners find that their friends and family don’t take their work ‘seriously’ and think that all manner of activities and tasks unrelated to work can be included in your work day. Of course flexibility is a great advantage to working for yourself from home, but if your day is full of unplanned interruptions, your productivity will decline.

• Interact with others. A large proportion of successful home based business owners lean toward the introverted end of the personality spectrum. This means that they work well on their own and don’t always need to interact with other people. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing! At some point, we all need to talk to and relate with others who are in similar environments. So if you aren’t already doing this, make networking a new year’s goal!

 


 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Balance: is it mythical or achievable?

Elizabeth Gilbert (author of the book Eat, Pray Love) recently posted an article on her blog, saying “I feel and fear that the lovely word "balance" has accidentally become yet another weapon in the arsenal that we use against ourselves - yet another piece of evidence that WE ARE NOT DOING IT RIGHT”.

And she is right: most of the time when we are talking about ‘balance’ it is bemoaning the fact that we feel like we are not achieving it. We are behind in our work or not spending enough time with kids, partners or friends, or not getting enough sleep…and the list goes on. And to top it off, we often look at other people who seem to have it all together and compare ourselves negatively to them.

But what would ‘balance’ actually look like? When I stopped to think about that, I imagined that it might be quite boring! Because it would mean there would likely be no surprises, no unexpected events, and a fairly rigid existence. And from a business perspective, I imagine it would mean that opportunities would be unlikely to come my way because I would be safe and secure in my bubble of balance and not notice them.

More importantly, we have to stop comparing ourselves to others. We all have different tolerances, stress triggers, time pressures, family circumstances and so on. It is like comparing the proverbial apple to an orange.

Ultimately, the ‘balance’ you should be aiming for is to keep perspective about what you will be most proud of when business is no longer a factor. Will it be about how much time you spent making a profit or how much time you spent doing other stuff that matters to you?

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Happy Holidays

By the time you read this, I am likely to be sipping a cocktail in a resort in a tropical location. I have managed to escape the winter cold and am having a few well-earned weeks off.

I mention this partly to make you jealous! But mostly because, as all business women are fully aware, taking time off is not generally something that can be done easily. You are the backbone of your business, and there is always something to be done and deadlines to meet. Sadly, too many business women will report that it has been years since they have taken a substantial break.

Ultimately it comes down to whether you are committed to taking a break. Believe it or not, the world will keep turning if you are not there! But you do need to factor holidays into your business plans and plan ahead.

One of the ways I created an opportunity to take leave, was to inform my clients well in advance. I gave them options and deadlines – and importantly, I stuck to those boundaries! This enabled my clients to also plan their requirements, and they were all willing and able to do so.

Your business may not be as flexible with deadlines as mine, and may involve employing or outsourcing someone to continue your work while you are away. Do not use this as an excuse not to take a break! There are always ways to ‘replace’ you. And ultimately, your aim should be to make yourself expendable. After all, the goal of most business owners is to work a little less, rather than be chained to their business.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Evaluation

Many business owners use the New Year season to take stock of their business and life in general. It is a great opportunity to set goals and plan for the coming year, and make changes where necessary.

Hopefully when you started your business, you went into it with your eyes wide open. If you didn’t, it would not have taken you long to learn that running a business means you will need to sacrifice some blood, sweat, tears, money, time and so on in order to achieve success. The tricky part is maintaining some semblance of balance. You need to ensure that your sacrifices are not outweighing your success.

The very first ‘sacrifice’ you should evaluate is family time. There is nothing wrong with short periods of time where work has to come first. But if you spend little time with family and friends and spend most of your nights and weekends working, you need to make some changes. Reflect on what is most important in life and work towards creating more, not less, time on that.

Find a leisure activity that is completely different to your ‘work’ and make it a regular (i.e. at least weekly) pastime. This gives your brain time to recharge and will ultimately provide you with more focus and energy. Ensure that you take regular holidays, where you completely ‘switch off’. This is critical now more than ever in the age of 24/7 access to technology.

Evaluate whether your ‘normal’ state is one of stress and anxiety. If it is, you need to decide if a shorter life span (which is ultimately what extreme, constant stress results in), is worth it.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Overwhelmed

Having just been through a particularly overwhelming time of dealing with a critical situation in my business, I feel like I’m writing this article for myself! But I am certain that there will be many of you feel the same way, either now, in the craziness of the season, or in the past or future.

Being responsible for the running of your business can at times be overwhelming. The very same advantages of being your own boss can also become sources of stress. Often it is financial issues, but in addition, every business owner is busy and generally stretched to capacity, which is why time constraints and deadlines can be a regular source of stress. Getting sick or dealing with an unscheduled interruption is really not an option and can be overwhelming.

Clutter and disorganisation can add to the feeling of being ‘out of control’ and definitely impacts on productivity and efficiency. In general, not knowing what to do next and having the constant pressure to make crucial decisions, can all add up to being overwhelmed.

So what’s the answer? At times, it will be a case of pushing through. As Dr Phil says “Anyone can do something when they want to do it. Really successful people do it when they don’t want to”.

But you also need to be sensible. If you feel overwhelmed more often than not, then you need to seriously take stock. Are you wearing too many hats? Do you need to make some hard decisions about where you spend your time and energy? Being overwhelmed to the point of inaction, or worse still, at the expense of your health, is not a viable or sensible long term solution.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Controversial Mindsets

I was reading an article recently about the mindsets and beliefs of ‘serious entrepreneurs’. While I agreed with most of them, there were two that were quite controversial:

  • Business comes first, family second: The article sees this statement as a recognition that ‘family well-being is dependent on the success of the business, not the other way around’ and ‘should you forego closing a million dollar deal to attend a ball game with your son?’. While I understand the concept, I think it’s dangerous to give yourself ‘permission’ to do this. I guarantee that a life spent putting success and business first will result in damaged relationships with the very people you are supposed to be providing for. I am a big believer that if the ‘million dollar deal’ is meant to happen, it will happen without needing to damage relationships.

  • Following your passion is bogus: Although the writer of the article is correct as far as making sure that your ‘passion’ makes good business sense, you still need to be passionate about what you are doing. Why would you spend the hours you do, put in the effort you do and make the sacrifices you do, if it’s ‘just for the money’? Every job and business has aspects that are less enjoyable or unpleasant. But it doesn’t mean that you cannot find a way to do something that makes your heart sing. If you are in business ‘just for the money’, close up shop now and get a job working for someone else. A life focused on making money for money’s sake will ultimately be an unsuccessful one, no matter how many dollars are in the bank.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

 

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Coming Second

Richard Glover recently wrote a fantastic article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled ‘I’d rather be a second-class citizen’. The premise of the article was that while coming first is fantastic, it essentially requires you to be obsessed and to sacrifice many things for your goal. He wrote it in response to the focus on winning a gold medal at the Olympics and how “suddenly everyone has a problem with people who come second. It has to be gold or nothing”. His personal preference is for coming second in everything because it signifies a much more balanced and therefore happier life.

Does this also apply to running a successful business? At the risk of sounding like I’m suggesting that you aim low, I think it does apply. In a previous article, I wrote about someone who said that she is “a slave to her business”. Although she appeared to be talking about her business in a positive light, I was horrified at the thought of being trapped by my business. My aim is for my business to work for me, not the other way around.

So in business, if achieving ‘gold’ means sacrificing time with my family then it is silver I choose. If it means I have no interests outside of running my business, then silver seem like a much better option.

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t aim high and achieve the best you can. But ‘the best’ should mean that you are not forsaking everything else in order to reach your goals. Are you really successful if in the process you’ve lost everything else?


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

 

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PO Box 8142, Glenmore Park NSW 2745
0412 701 147
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ABN: 88 695 161 542

Contact Us

Shel Design
PO Box 8142
Glenmore Park NSW 2745
0412 701 147
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABN: 88 695 161 542

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