7 Ways to Destress Your Business
As more apps and technology appear to make life easier, ironically never have people been so stressed. And that seems to go double if you work for yourself. Stress has become part and parcel of being an entrepreneur these days – particularly if you work online. It’s been estimated that people who work for themselves suffer from more stress than those who work for others. There are still bills to pay, time and people to manage, responsibilities to meet, and expectations to fill.
The difference is, when you work for yourself, you can choose what to do about it, and how you are going to diffuse or eliminate that stress.
Here are seven powerful strategies you can put into practice today.
Step One: How to Make Every Day Your Best Day Ever
Start by structuring your days in ways that support and enrich your life. You can’t plan for everything, but you CAN be proactive about how you schedule and create your working days.
Step Two: Top 5 Best Ways to Stay Focused (And Avoid Client Drama!)
Making changes for the better depends not just on becoming solution-oriented, but on cultivating clarity and focus. This boils down to getting to know yourself and your business – inside and out.
This doesn’t mean hours of navel-gazing: Again, it means taking specific, concrete action. And incidentally, if you adopt these habits, it will also help you totally avoid client drama.
- Track your time. Even if you’re not billing hourly, use a tool like to Toggl to track how long various tasks or projects take.
- Set and stick to office hours. Tell your clients up front that you stop working at 6 p.m. on weekdays and ever work weekends. They can email or call, but you won’t respond! Boundaries are important!
- Have a Thursday review. If you constantly scramble to keep up with your daily tasks, block off time every Thursday afternoon to look at the coming week. (Friday’s too late! You won’t have time to reschedule or make substantive changes if you need to.)
- Aim to be early. If the deadline is the 15th, turn in a draft by the 12th. That way you can iron out problems with the client before time-related stress kicks in, AND if you need an extra day due to last-minute emergency on your end, you’ll have it.
- Minimize distractions. Staying focused means putting yourself in an environment that allows you to work. That may mean renting an office space outside your home or just buying some noise-canceling headphones. It may mean blocking off entire days for certain projects and ignoring everything else. It may mean using a tool like RescueTime to keep yourself off social media. Do what you need to eliminate anything that interferes with your focus.
One thing you need to know: Whenever you change a habit that benefits others but not yourself, expect resistance at first. People will complain. They’ll test your limits.
Don’t try to explain. You owe no explanations – and explanations are always viewed as an open invitation to argument: Objections to be overcome.
Decide how you want to handle objections in advance – and stick to your decision. Honor yourself.
You’ll be glad you did!
Step Three: The Secret to Developing Good Work Habits
Creating good work habits is all about building a smart schedule that works for you. Schedule your time, your client time, workouts, self-care – everything!
Remember things get better when you get into the habit of sticking to a schedule. You prioritize better. Sticking to a schedule becomes a habit, making it much easier to beat procrastination. It increases self-respect and self-worth. You feel productive, focused, efficient – and stress-free.
Here are three habits to develop that will help you build a strong schedule – one that will keep you track and on target:
- Use an electronic calendar for EVERY task, not just appointments. If you need to write a blog post, block off two hours. If you have a client call, even for 5 minutes, include it.
- Use the same calendar (or a coordinating/overlapping one) for your personal life. The danger of maintaining separate calendars is double-booking … or even forgetting to check the right one for a certain event!
- Check your work-life balance. Are you getting enough relaxation and personal time each week? Are you spending more time on the phone than you expect? Don’t schedule your calendar, learn from it.
Being present in the moment is the greatest gift you can give yourself: And all of these new habits we’re talking about will help you do that – and cut down on stress. Significantly!
Step Four: The Biggest Myth About Saying No to Clients
How do you think your clients are going to respond if you deny them what they want? Especially if the thing you are denying is something they are used to receiving? While it’s true that clients are never happy when you deny them, it’s a myth that they will always get angry.
The irony here is that the more accommodating you are, the less your clients will value you – and the more they will expect.
Here’s what you can do to get comfortable with saying ‘no’ to clients:
- Practice saying “no” to urgent requests. it can be hard to turn down work from valued clients, but remember that we teach people how to treat us. If someone calls at 10 am asking for a deliverable by 4 pm and you say yes, you’ve set a precedent. Say no and hold firm.
- Value your time. Saying no may mean walking away from money, but it also means valuing your time.
Step Five: 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Stay Glued to Your Laptop
Some people say they work better doing twelve hours a day, four days a week rather than five days a week at eight hours a day. Others have problems stepping away from their laptops or mobiles once the workday is done. No matter which habitual way of working resonates with you more, be aware that spending too much time glued to your laptop is unhealthy.
Here are four reasons why:
- Working long hours dulls your creativity. If you work 10-hours a day 4 days in a row, day 5 is going to be a wash. Break up the days, force yourself to walk away, allow yourself to get some fresh perspective.
- Forcing yourself to work amps up your stress. When you let stress hormones like cortisol build up in your system, it has awful long-term effects on your health. Getting out into the fresh air and away from your workstation helps you repair that damage. Even a single day off can have a huge impact.
- Too much laptop time results in losing physical conditioning. You risk developing varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis, poor digestion, lack of muscle tone, digestive difficulties and gaining weight. (Your eyesight can suffer too!)
- You lose touch with life. It’s impossible to live in the present moment when you’re living in the virtual world. Life online is largely an illusion.
We end up attaching disproportionate importance to online activities and interactions – to the detriment of real-life connections. So, tear yourself away from your laptop. Shut off your mobile. Plan at least one technology-free day per week so you can slow down and reconnect with the world outside – and with your true creativity.
Step Six: Why Outsourcing Will Save Your Sanity
One way to take the stress out of stepping away from your laptop per day is to outsource your more routine tasks. Or, better yet, outsource those particular tasks and activities that cause you maximum stress, eat into your time, and don’t directly make you money – for example, setting up your shopping cart or uploading your podcast episodes and writing show notes for them.
No one is good at everything. Spending your time on tasks you hate and/or aren’t good at makes you miserable and wastes your energy.
When you hire talented contractors to support you by doing those tasks, you get to do more of what you love and less of what you don’t love. This makes you happier and helps your business thrive.
It’s easy to fit outsourcing into your budget if you:
- Identify ahead of time the most important task or activity to outsource and start with that one particular task.
- Determine a dollar figure you can afford right now.
- Calculate how much your own time is worth – and how much you have the potential of earning while the non-money-making task is being taken care of by someone else.
When you do everything yourself, the day-to-day work often sucks up so much time that you can’t plan for the future or grow your business. Bring in freelance support, and suddenly you’ve got room in your schedule to scale and build.
Step Seven: The Single Best Way to Destress
The most effective tips for de-stressing may be the hardest:
- Limit communication and social media at ALL times (not just during the work day)
- Turn off notifications. They’ll distract you while you work, and clutter up your family/relaxation time.
- Remove apps from your phone that pull your attention away from important matters.
- Consider an email cutoff, like 7 pm, so your mind can’t latch on to new work issues in the evening when you should be unwinding.
- Never deal with work communications in bed, on the weekend, or on vacation.
- Create an auto-responder telling people you’re offline to reinforce your boundaries.
- Use client contracts to specifically lay out your hours and conditions – and stick to these written boundaries
But the single best way to distress?
- Take action.
Realize it’s not just your business that’s at stake, but perhaps even your health and life itself.
Honor yourself, your health and well-being, and put all these suggestions into practice today.