Running a business is demanding - there's always something to be done, someone to call back, emails to read, a project to work on, bookkeeping to catch up on - you know the feeling well. Whether you're actually at work, thinking about it in the car, planning your workday over breakfast, or worrying about it at 2am - it manages to get itself front and centre in our lives.
The problem is in our striving for success (and lets face it, it's all with good intent to do well), it's easy for other things start to fall down the list - and quite often that's our own health and well-being. Given we really need to bring our 'A-game' and that our own health is really the very thing our business needs to be successful, we have to find ways to prioritise our health.
I know this first-hand. I was busily trying to succeed in my business - eye on the target, work, grind, work, a boundary- less busy buoy bobbing along in a sea of distress and false priorities. I had complete disregard for my well being and pushed on with fervour. But things began to unwind. Full abdominal hysterectomy. Sure. I can take my laptop to hospital and clear emails. Hip operation. Bring it on. I may be seated but I am not defeated. Anaemia. Ok, well I'll battle on. Melanoma. Oh. Clinical Depression. Ugh. And then there was the straw that broke the camel's back. Except there was no camel. There was just me - a humpless human carrying burdens too great to bear. I fractured my spine. Final straw. Literal broken back.
I was also aware over this time that I was operating my business in a state of mild panic. I was always 'on'. Cortisol surged through my body 24/7. For the first time in my life, I wasn't sleeping well. I also developed eczema, again, not something I had ever had before in my life. My tummy was troubling me. And I was reaching for a glass of wine (or 3) at the end of the day with a little too much desperation.
So it all kind of imploded. A perfect storm - except it was 'perfect' in a big-time sucky kind of way. The subtle whispers in my ear from the universe 'are you looking after yourself?' were replaced with a left hook to the jaw that knocked me to the floor. I had to make changes.
And I did. And actually, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. But the difference in my quality of life and well being is far more significant than I could ever have imagined. In a relatively short space of time, I have literally transformed my health, happiness and well-being. At the same time, my business has flourished.
Here is FOUR factors that made a major difference.
1. Move in the morning ......JUST DO IT! 🤸♂️
So if there was ONE THING that I had to single out that began the transformation it was this habit. So simple it's silly, but so effective - I embraced the teachings of the ancient wisdom-yielding Guru Nike - just do it.
We've all got a reason why finding time to exercise can be tricky - we're not a morning person, we have to leave too early for work, we like to read the paper, we've got kids, we're lacking motivation, we're just downright tired. Enough!
So do this - put a pair of runners by your bed, and some comfortable walking clothes. I also like to listen to music, so I have my headset ready to go. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than normal, and put it slightly out of reach. When the alarm goes off just roll out of bed, pull on your shoes, clothes and JUST DO IT. Go for a walk. Do it so quickly and ninja- like that you're out the door before your mind has time to start all its stories about how tired you are, or why you really shouldn't bother.
Walk out the door and simply walk around your block. Even if it's 8 minutes - it's 8 minutes more than you did yesterday. Aim to build to a 20 minute brisk walk in the coming weeks. They say most of the benefits of exercise come from that first 20 minutes, so stay within the point of diminishing returns.
Or grab an app like the 7 minute workout (available on iTunes) and do it from home. Seven minutes.
My point here is to just GET IT DONE before you talk yourself out of it. Make it easy. Make it simple. Make it achievable and just start the habit of doing it every freakin' day. Heck, you can even take Sundays off if you want... but my guess is once you start to feel better, you'll want to do it everyday.
Then you're done. That's it! Exercise - tick. No more mind games about 'when' you're going to exercise, why you can't, all the reasons you're terrible and lazy. Just do it. You'll feel a sense of satisfaction for having achieved something before breakfast. And you've given your metabolism a kick start.
Give it a try and make sure you hashtag #mymorningmove on instagram. Cause really if it's not on the socials it didn't really happen! 😉
2. Work all the time you work.(And don't when you don't).👩🏻💻
The wonderful Brian Tracey talks a lot about this. If you haven't read his great book, 'Eat That Frog' then I recommend grabbing it for a read. But basically it's the concept of single-mindedly staying focused on work, when you're meant to be working. No notifications, no social media open, no phone calls (unless you're in customer service and taking phone calls is work). Personally I work in 40 minute blocks - that's the outer limit of my concentration time before my mind starts to wander. But just whole-heartedly, single-mindedly WORK when it's time to work.
I write down my days priorities, set my phone alarm for 40 minutes, make sure it's on DND, move it away, and I go for it. Even just for 40 minutes, I notice all the ways I can be distracted - random thoughts, looking for an email but then reading 15 others, clicking on links, and sometimes I look down and I am holding my i-Phone in my hand looking at Instagram, and I don't even know how it happened!
On the flip side - DON'T work when it's not work time. Sure, the boundaries between work and recreational time are more blurred than they used to be because of the internet, emails, social media, smart phones, 24/7 marketplace etc but that is even MORE reason to protect your down time. I use my out of office message a lot to let people know I am away from my desk. I don't mindlessly check emails while waiting in a queue for lunch.
Another great tip from my buddy Brian to give yourself a mental break - especially if the thought of a WHOLE weekend without working terrifies you. Try this - don't work from Friday night til Sunday morning. That gives you two fresh night's sleep and a full day away from work. It takes discipline but it's an amazing gift to your well-being.
So in a nutshell - when you're ON, be on. Do what you gotta get done. When you're OFF be off. Tools down. Don't straddle the fence of work and downtime. Stand firmly in one then open the gate and walk to the other side shutting it firmly behind you.
3. Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Pig Out! 🐷
When I broke my back, I had to have blood tests and my diet analysed to rule out osteoporosis or anything other underlying factors (turned out I was severely lacking in Vitamin D ...and it's pretty common, so might be worth getting checked out if you've never done so). What I identified through the dietary analysis was nutritional black spots - my snacks. I'm pretty good with meals (in fact our family has set meals on certain nights for 6 nights of the week to make it easy. Try it! #lifechanging). BUT the ol' snackeroos. For context I am a fussy vegetarian who has to follow the LOW FODMAP diet ( no surprise I rarely get invites from friends wanting to cook me dinner!). I never thought about my snacks - I either got hungry and opened up the fridge and cupboard, and seeing nothing I liked, just kept working (not good) OR I got so hungry I ate a block of chocolate in about 20 seconds (yummy, but also not good). And it was because I didn't plan for snacks like I do for meals. I just kind of bobbed along in a sea of mild hunger grabbing at whatever floated to the surface quickly in that moment. Generally, chocolate. Which comes with all the niceties of high sugar snacking. Yay! Crash.
Now I make sure I have snackable and nutritional goodies ready to go and around me to help me choose more wisely and give me a more sustained energy, particularly in the afternoons. The dietitian also found a FODMAP friendly protein powder which has been a game-changer particularly for when I am pushed for time. I've found it at most chemists - https://www.pronourish.com.au/fodmap-foods/digestive-balance-drink.
Don't leave it to chance and sugar - set yourself up for success by making nutritional snacks easy.
4. Party pooper 🎊 🎉 🥂
Okay truth be known, I've put this one last strategically because I thought if I put it first, you'd stop reading. Boo hiss... this woman is a kill-joy! But the fact of the matter is giving up alcohol has improved my health way more than I realised it would. Now I am not suggesting you teeter along the path to teetotaling with me, but is it time to sip a few less bevvies?
So quick backstory - I was a boozehound! I loved a thick viscous chardy on warm Saturday afternoon more than just about anything else. At the end of a long day, nothing dropped my shoulders and took me to relaxville like a wine or two. People ask "Did you have a drinking problem?" and I always say, "I had NO problems drinking!" .. .but no, I wasn't a raging alcoholic, I didn't drink everyday (though secretly I wanted to, such was my love and admiration for it), I didn't drink myself into oblivion (well maybe there was the annual 'what the hell happened moment?') .... but I just knew it wasn't doing me any favours. In fact, the older I got the more the pendulum swung from 'well it was worth it, cause it was fun' to 'no amount of fun is worth this'. I guess it was the moment when I sat tearily with my GP at yet another visit due to ill-health and he said to me "you know it really is just a toxin to your body" that I found myself wondering how alcohol fitted in with me trying to be successful and healthy. Did my poor body need another thing to deal with?
I only ever intended to cut back. But the less I drank, the better I felt. The less I drank, the more amplified the seediness and anxiety afterwards became if I did indulge. The less I drank, the better I slept (and I must add, I also needed less sleep because the quality is so much better). The less I drank the more energy I had. I could go on, but you get the picture.
So I decided to completely give up. Now, that might not be for you and that is 100% fine. I'm not here to tell you that you need to banish alcohol from your life. But if you're feeling a little sluggish, tired and over it all - and if you're drinking regularly at the levels I was, I truly believe that there is benefit in standing back and exploring the relationship you have with alcohol. Maybe a week's break, choosing a month such as Ocsober, finding another AFD in the week or trying an app to be more mindful when drinking? I found following 'Hello Sunday Morning' on Facebook an enormous motivator and helpful resource.
IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN KNOWING MORE ABOUT KEEPING HEALTHY WHILE RUNNING A BUSINESS KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR 'STRESSED TO SUCCESS' LAUNCHING IN FEBRUARY 2019.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be the first to know.
Okay, we say to ourselves, it's a busy day. Lets do this.
Then we get a beep, a notification, a text, a random thought about how we've been meaning to check out the prices at the new gym or see who our team is playing this weekend, or book our child into the dentist .... and so starts the web wander. We stumble from page to page lurching at the next shiny thing, only to emerge drenched by the unproductive weight of a long surf on the web. We glance at the time and declare 'I am sooo busy! Where has the morning gone? '
Dealing with distraction attraction, procrastination, determining priorities and maintaining motivation are crucial skills to cultivate in our connected times if you want to stay focused and have productive outputs.
Apparently we can partly blame our mammalian ways for the innate desire to be connected to others. And those pings that come with notifications? Well they release dopamine and keep us coming back for more, like an addicted gambler waiting for their pay out song. Dealing with distraction is a skill that is fundamentally essential to modern life.
Here's some tips for dulling distraction.
Brendon Burchard says that procrastination is really just a lack of motivation. You put that task off because there is nothing inherently rewarding or satisfying waiting at the end when you finish it. But the problem with procrastinating on something is that it begins to take on a life of its own where you think about doing it, or worry about not doing it, or start berating yourself for way longer than it might actually have taken you to get the dang thing done.
What do you need to do, to help yourself stay focused and disciplined with the work that needs to happen? Often times our distraction and procrastination are the result of a lack of clarity. We just bumble along from task to task, email to email and phone call to phone call without any clear direction in terms of what is important and what we need to prioritise. Emails are the worst for this, to quote my man BB again - your inbox is just a convenient filing system for other people's priorities.
Want the daily priority planner I have used for over twenty years? - CLICK HERE.
As the end of December rolls around each year, most of us take some time to reflect on the year that we're leaving behind and set some goals for the new one.
While the new financial year certainly lacks the hype, champagne pops and midnight smooches of its calendar equivalent, it’s still a great opportunity to pause and use the same principles of reflection and resolution.
Here's a checklist of ideas for your new financial year resolutions.
Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash
You remember the rush of your first sale? Seeing that order drop and jumping out of your chair and running around like a loony! Or maybe it was seeing the first runs of your new business logo? How very grown up! Sh*t just got real!
But then again, you probably always knew that this was what you were born to do. If you didn't your family and friends certainly knew. Because the talent was always there. Your gift. Your eye. Whether it was your self-styled sassy wardrobe by age three, the way you were drawn to rub Nan's deep red crushed velvet curtain against your kiddie cheeks, or how you got lost for hours locked in your bedroom writing the next teen horror novel. Perhaps it was your angelic voice that filled the family car on road trips, or the how the teacher struggled to keep you in your chair because all your body ever wanted to do was move. While other kids brushed their doll's hair, you were giving her the crimp, cut and colour. Out with friends wandering the streets, you got lost in the grandeur of the streetscape architecture while they kicked balls. You always had an eye for style or a strategy to share. A problem to solve. An idea for the world. Really this was always where you would end up.
So you decided to make a go of it! Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you set up about making your dream a reality. Oh the rush! Figuring out a name, day-dreaming about the colours, telling family and friends, sorting your social media, imagining the orders flowing in and just generally soaking in the big bloody realisation that you are a business owner.
For the first few months it was a thrill. Scary? Yes. Nerve-wracking? For sure. But man the excitement out-weighed it all. The sales were coming in and you worked hard fuelled by the endless energy of a new business. Some days you were so caught up in it that you forgot to have a break for lunch. Sure, you hadn't got to the gym the last few weeks, but you'll get back to that. You could feel the lines between work and home life blur a little, perhaps you weren't 100% in the moment .... "Mum I've asked three times if you know where my soccer boots are?!" but it's only temporary after all.
Fast forward a few more months and you're not feeling quite as 'rule the world' -ish. You log on to your internet banking. Your heart sinks a little. There's never much in there. You're working so hard, probably harder than ever before and there are sales coming in but where's the money? And the bills are starting to pile up a little. Piles. Yes there seems to be lots of piles - receipts, bills, orders ... they're starting to make you feel overwhelmed. You can't quite shake that conversation at the networking lunch yesterday where someone asked what your turn-over was and you died a little on the inside because you had no idea what that even means... let alone what yours actually is.
You catch yourself day-dreaming about when you had a wage. You do an internal gasp of horror! You can't believe you are even thinking like that - you hated it! But in a way, that old job that you just had to turn up to, could switch off from and have money magically appear in your bank account each fortnight, suddenly feels more appealing. You cut the thought off - THIS IS the dream, you remind yourself.
For the first time in your life, you are not sleeping well. It's like the second you hop in to bed, your mind, that was oh so tired half an hour beforehand, suddenly comes alive! Are you compliant? What if you are breaking the law without realising it? Why do some people talk about GST? What is it? Do you really know what you're doing? Surely any day now, someone is going to realise you are a big, fat, phoney fraud who has no idea about your business finances. Besides, you can't ask those 'dumb' questions now - you've been in business for 18 months, you should know this. You're in waaaay too deep now to let anyone know what's really going on.
Your big secret begins to weigh you down. When someone comments on how cool your instagram account is, you squirm a little. If only they knew, you hear the voice say. You don't have the energy you used to. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to suspend they gym membership afterall? You glance at the designs on the table. Your creativity feels like one of the many scrunched up, crackly balls of paper sitting on your desk. You hear the ping of another email, and feel your tummy flip a little. What's wrong now? Your phone rings and it's your accountant. You feel sick - this must be it, the moment you realise you've been doing it all wrong and now you're in trouble?
Sound familiar dear one? I hope not. But I know for some it is the uncomfortable landscape they suddenly find themselves in. And it's not the juice for your best creative output to the world. It's not a platform for you to stand on and shine, sister. It's a soul-destroying, anxiety-feeding, confidence-shredding sure fire path to burn out.
How do I know this ? Because I have been there too. I know how it feels to push down the voice of panic that whispers in your ear at 2am. I've felt the excitement of a new business slowly transmute into an unbearable stress. I've worked long hours at the expense of my family and my health and my general joie de vivre only to realise I was not making money. I've felt warm tears trickle down my cheeks as I sat at my desk wondering how the hell I got here.
I get it.
I hit rock- bottom a few years ago. After battling on with my business, juggling a family, and even through a cancer diagnosis, it eventually all came to a halt and I got really sick. I had to stop and start again and this time I took the lessons learnt. This time I had support and systems in place for my business and for me, and built an award- winning business while transforming my health.
This has lead me to develop 'Business Basics for Creative Minds.' To step you through what you need to know to run a successful small business. To answer those questions you're too scared to ask. To set clear objectives about what you're doing that INCLUDES looking after yourself. To find systems, apps and programmes that give you back time. To make sure you know what you need to do to earn money. To help you sleep better at night knowing you are compliant. To make sure no- one has to go through what I did.
Ultimately, it's about setting you up so that you're excited about what you're doing again. Freeing yourself up from the worries and concerns of your business finances, so you can go forth and do what you were put on this earth to do!
Creative Accounting is very excited to introduce to you its newest member of the team. Please meet Botkeeper, the chatbot bookkeeper ready and waiting to connect with you!
Botkeeper connects to users via Facebook messenger and delivers daily doses of tips, information and motivation. Creative Accounting's owner, Gabrielle Osborne, says Botkeeper is a means of reaching and assisting small business owners who sometimes feel isolated and overwhelmed particularly in the beginnings of their business journey. The Botkeeper chat is light and fun and utilises things like GIF images to bring some entertainment into what can be a very dry space.
"Although Botkeeper can assist any small business owner, the target market is female creatives in business and our vision is to use Botkeeper as a tool to reach out and connect with them in meaningful ways on a regular basis. Botkeeper assists users with setting a weekly goal to move their business forward, providing information around compliance and also helping with some motivational and productivity tips.
I know first hand, that running a business can be tricky and finding the right information can be very time consuming and overwhelming. Having help delivered via your facebook messenger app curated to the needs of a small business owner in a way that it understandable and sometimes humorous will be a massive help".
Chatbots are seen as the next wave of marketing and client engagement with a recent report by Grand View Research, expecting the global chatbot market to reach $1.23 billion by 2025, a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.3%
Gabrielle says, "My hope is that Botkeeper provides insights into what users need more help with and we can then go about developing tailored services such as online courses and workshops that assist with the key needs identified".
Want to meet Botkeeper ? Click here to sign up
Gabrielle Osborne (BAcc) is a small business specialist who loves empowering creative minds by helping them make sense of their business numbers.