In business and in life, there’s not much worse than feeling out of control. It’s tough enough if you’re part of a well-staffed enterprise, but operating an independent business requires a special level of discipline and tenacity. If it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to tend to all that’s involved in servicing your clients, keeping up with administrative demands and, dare I say, having a life, burnout can take its toll on both your business and your health.
As the worlds of beauty and wellness are converging, we’re coming to understand how mental wellbeing can not only affect the way you look and feel, but also impact your focus and ability to make the most efficient and productive use of your time. In short, time management for your business starts in your head, supporting the part of your brain that drives positivity and productivity.
Take Your Oxygen First
I love the evergreen airline safety instruction, “apply your own oxygen mask before assisting others,” because it’s a perfect metaphor for what’s required to be of genuine help to others in all facets of life. Before you can be the best for your clients, you must first invest in your personal wellbeing.
When growing a business, it may feel noble to put personal needs aside to give it all to your clients. But without setting boundaries and practicing self-care for your emotional and physical wellbeing, it’s unlikely you’ll experience the joy and happiness that can come from building a thriving personal enterprise.
My husband used to warn me that living my mantra, “I’ll sleep when I’m done,” was going to catch up with me sooner or later. And he was right; I had to learn the hard way that there’s a connection between stress and cancer. So I’ve made it my mission to help others, especially entrepreneurs, understand that you can have your health and success in business at the same time and that they’re absolutely connected.
You may be surprised to discover the extent to which investing just a little time in yourself can help to increase the productivity of the time you invest in your business. Here are some simple ways to bring mindful time management into your life.
Pause, Breathe, Respond with IntentionWhen frustrations or interruptions occur … and they will! …it’s easy to be triggered and react in ways that are non-productive or that you may later regret. When you feel yourself losing focus or losing control, try this proven technique to re-center.
Step 1 - Take a deep breath in through your nose. (You may want to further focus your attention by grabbing onto a gem or stone and inhaling your favorite aromatherapy oil.) Breathe out through your mouth.
Step 2 - Take a second deep breath in through your nose. As you’re exhaling through your mouth, notice where you may be holding stressful tension in your body.
Step 3 - Take a third deep breath through your nose. As you’re exhaling through your mouth ask yourself, “What’s most important right now?
Practice Mindful Eating
Here are some tips to practice mindful eating:
- Set aside specific times to quiet your mind and experience the multiple sensory aspects of your food. You should note and feel gratitude for the flavors, textures, and aromas as you savor each bite.
- Adopt a positive attitude about your food choices. Don’t be self-critical. Instead of labeling foods as "good" or "bad," recognize that food provides nourishment and pleasure, and scan for the positive in your choices.
- Balance healthy, nutrient-dense foods with occasional indulgences. Aim to make nutritious choices about 80-85% of the time, while still allowing yourself the freedom to enjoy occasional treats mindfully.
- Look for guided mindful eating meditations if you need help getting started. You can find mindful eating along with other short practices on the free Solvasa Life Mindfulness App.
3. Don’t Take Your Work to Bed With You
In our modern, always-on world, finding a balance between work and personal life requires discipline. With mobile technology operating 24/7, you may be tempted to turn your bedroom into a makeshift office. However, blurring the lines between your workspace and your most important self-care sanctuary can have detrimental effects on the health and wellbeing of your business as well as your brain. Here are some practical tips for establishing daytime habits for effective sleep at night:
- Morning Exposure to Natural Light - Even just a few minutes outdoors for sunlight (without the filters of sunglasses or car windows) helps regulate your circadian rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep at night.
- Stay Hydrated - As you’re busy servicing your clients, it’s easy to forget to continuously drink plenty of water during the day. Carry a water bottle with graduation marks to keep track of how much water you’re drinking and get enough during the day. Keep in mind that you’ll want to reduce your water intake in the evening to prevent the call of nature during your sleeping hours.
- Caffeine: Limit or avoid caffeine after noon. Instead, try an anti-inflammatory beverage like turmeric-rich golden milk or herbal tea.
- Alcohol - Although a glass of wine or two may make you feel initially drowsy, it can disrupt your sleep cycle. Try to limit alcohol consumption during the work week, especially in the evening.
- Stress Management - Yes, this may seem like a redundant theme, but we’re finally waking up to the importance of stress resilience and how mindfulness can support a good night’s sleep.
- Limit Screen Time - Beyond the challenges of taking your work into the bedroom with you, blue light exposure from phones, tablets, computers, and TVs shortly before bedtime can interfere with your sleep-wake cycle.
If the last minute is the time you allocate for getting things done, it’s likely that your day is filled with more anxiety and less productivity than you’d like. Here are a few tips to overcome procrastination and stay on track:
- Brace yourself - taking a cold shower in the morning may sound like a rude awakening, but it can increase your dopamine levels by a whopping 250% for hours and get your day off on a more productive note.
- Lower the bar - break tasks into manageable chunks. This makes them feel more achievable and reduces the likelihood of putting off a task that feels overwhelming.
- Resist distractions - get over your FOMO (fear of missing out) and, if you can, turn off notifications on your phone, close unnecessary tabs on your computer, and set boundaries with your support staff or outside associates to minimize interruptions.
- Celebrate the little things - after completing a task or reaching a milestone, reward yourself. Small rewards help encourage you to reinvest your energy into the efforts that lead to satisfying outcomes.
Utilize Technology (with Discretion)
If you’re not already using various scheduling, payment processing, inventory management, and marketing applications, you’re probably considering such productivity tools. Digital technology can also be important to your clients and support their satisfaction with your business when it SIMPLIFIES AND EXPEDITES engagement and transactions.
As you’re contemplating the adoption of digital tools, it’s important to consider not only the subscription cost- but your readiness to integrate. Keep in mind that the setup and maintenance requirements for productivity tools are rarely seamless and can actually be counterproductive for you and your business. If you’re sold on applications that are beyond your requirements or with too many bells and whistles that can add complexity, you may be signing up for headaches you didn’t anticipate. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you’re vetting technology options for productivity and time management:
- How will the application/tool help me grow my business? Will it enhance my clients’ experiences? Will it help me attract new clients and retain my current client base? Will it allow me to service more clients without compromising the quality of my service?
- What is the MVP (Minimally Valuable Product) I need to get started? Can I use simple, plug-and-play applications or open-source applications that I and my clients are already using for other purposes, or do I need to plan for contracted installation and/or customization?
- How much help will I need? How much time will be required to test and perfect? How much maintenance is required?
Companies that want your business may be more invested in selling you a tool or subscription than in supporting your success using it. Make sure there is a way to connect with a live person when you need support (this is rarer these days than you might think). Or, if the supplier doesn’t have a readily accessible technical service desk, consider subscribing to a help desk that can service all your urgent digital needs.
Turn Intention into Habit
Time management is not one thing. Identify the practices that will make your day more productive and the habits you need to break that may be getting in the way of your productivity. Start with just a few small changes and then build from there. You’ll find greater success if, over time, you implement 15 small changes that add up to a15% improvement in productivity than attempting to make a15% improvement all at once. Here are a few ideas to enhance your time management skills:
- Start with Why - by recognizing the reasons you want to improve your time management skills, it will become more clear as to where to focus and how to get started.
- Organize for efficiency - removing even 15 seconds that stand between you and a task can make a significant difference in getting the job done. For instance, bookmarking frequently needed web pages on your browser or adding links to the homepage of your phone will not only save time in finding what you need, but will also make it less likely that you’ll get distracted by something else while searching.
- Remove obstacles and distractions - If that cabinet lock is difficult to open, get it fixed. If the trash can fills up too quickly, get a bigger one. If you can’t resist looking at a push notification on your phone, put it into airplane mode. Your time is extremely valuable, don’t waste it on things that don’t give you the return you deserve.
- Try Journaling - there’s a reason journaling has been rising in popularity. The general belief is that it takes about 21 consistent days to create a habit and then 90 days to recognize the impact and fully integrate the habit into your work and your life. Writing your intention in a journal and then tracking your progress to see the results is a proven means of creating good habits.
Time is valuable. Time management can bring more beauty and wellbeing to your life and your business. As you bring valuable mindful time management and self-care practices into your life, share your learning with your clients. It may be your best possible gift with service!