Now that you’re back from your well-earned summer break, how long will it take your business to regain its vice like grip on your emotions and push your stress levels way up into the red zone?
With over three decades of working as a business strategist and executive coach to high performing family business owner and leaders I’ve discovered the next few weeks are crucial when it comes to setting the level of stress you and they allow themselves to work under in the year ahead. The smart ones make some simple changes to how they manage their work lives which enables them enjoy life far more and here they are.
1. Write It Down
In his must read book, Getting Things Done, David Allen preaches endlessly about the importance of writing it down – getting out of your head and onto the page – only then can you manage and control things.
The first step is the Mind Dump, get everything that’s on your mind down on the page be it paper or tablet. As J.D. Meier says, in his blog: Dump your Brain to Free your Mind, “your mind is not where all the things bugging you belong. When you dump your state on paper, you can stop trying to remember what you were thinking about, and instead focus on what you want to do about it, or whether you can just let it go, or prioritize something else. When it’s on paper, you free your mind. When it’s on paper you can slice it and dice it in a more effective way, or sort it in a way that works for you, instead of against you.”
When you’ve got everything down on the page, then select and write down what you’re “Not Going To Do” and who you are going to tell. This is far more important than your To Do List! As Tim Ferriss puts it in his The Not-To-Do-List blog: “The reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do”.
2. One Thing at a Time
From you Mind Dump List:
◾ Select the three most important things – the things that Only You Can Do.
◾ List them in order of toughness.
◾ Start with the hardest and don’t move on until you have cracked it – don’t let people and other things distract you, stay focused.
◾ Then and only then when you’ve ticked off the first task move onto the next one.
3. Set Clear Time Limits
Who said you have to be the first one in of a morning and the last to leave at night.
Set a starting time for you that suites you, when you are ready and at your best for you. For me I don’t start work until I’ve been out on my bike because my health and fitness is my number one priority. I don’t set appointments till well after the early morning rush and school runs are over as many of my What If? Forum members taking their children to school is an important part of the day for them.
Clear your desk and close your door at the same time every day, even in your home office. Then, go off and do something that refreshes, renews and re-energises you – play with the kids, get down to the gym or just chill out with your partner.
4. Plan Tomorrow Tonight
The last thing you do before you clear your desk at the end of the day is Plan Tomorrow. Write down:
◾ What are the three things you must achieve?
◾ Who are the key people you must see / talk to?
◾ What are you going to do for you?
5. Take a Break
If it’s getting too much for you:
◾Close the door and walk out the office, go to the park, take a book and read it in a coffee shop.
◾Work off your frustrations at the gym, head off to your favourite quiet space and meditate for a while.
◾A change of scene works wonders and you can go back to the office feeling in a much better frame of mind.
A Final Note
What If? Forum members do a mixture of these things and use them as and when appropriate however, there are two things they are totally sold on. Attending their What If? Forum monthly meeting, they are required to unhook themselves from their business and work on, not in, each other’s businesses. Secondly, they have the chance to talk through what is on their mind and challenging them at their regular one to ones with their Forum facilitator and leader.
What de-stressing techniques and practices work for you? Share them in leave a comment below, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, follow @richardwhatif on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn or post on www.whatifforums.com.