Get into the Groove

Well it’s back into the groove after the kids summer holidays and raring to go after a couple of rain free camping trips (unheard of in our family) and a week in Cornwall.

I am always amazed at how motivated and ready for work I am after a break. It is easy to get bogged down in the day to day aspects of business and working long hours makes it gradually more difficult to see the wood for the trees. A break from the work routine helps to de-fog and re-calibrate the brain.

Although I try to have a ‘proper’ break with my email switched off, I am sure my brain is still working in the background mulling over issues and putting problems to bed. This type of ‘unconscious’ thought also occurs when we are doing physical exercise. How many times have you been wrestling with a problem in the office only to have the solution pop into your head when you take a break away from your desk?

In this country there is still a culture of presenteeism, which business owners find as difficult to break away from as employees. I have had clients complain that although they work long hours (often outside the office) colleagues make snide comments when they leave early or take a day off. We need to break away from this type of thinking because it is not productive.

As business owners we have to think about many different aspects – this thinking is not necessarily best done in a crowded office (or even in an office at all). We need to work in a way which produces the best results for us and be creative in allowing ourselves to do this. If a day out of the office spending time on a hobby allows you to be more effective once you are back at work, it makes sense to take that day.

After all, as I said in my previous blog, we started our own businesses because we wanted to have more control over our work lives. We need to be strong in that conviction and not allow ourselves to be forced into ‘corporate’ work practices because we feel obliged by others’ thinking to do so.

Fiona 🙂

Holiday time!

Well it’s is that time of year when the kids are on holidays and business owners up and down the country are trying to juggle family and work commitments.

This is particularly so if you work on your own and don’t have staff to cover whilst you are away. If you are a service provider it an be difficult to ensure that clients don’t become unhappy about breaks in that service.

Small business owners often find themselves taking work away with them, constantly available on their mobiles or smart phones, with their laptops continually at their side. Consequently, they don’t get the break they need and their families find themselves a poor second to business demands – even though it is supposed to be a family holiday.

I have found that, over the years, there are ways to work around the problem as long as you plan.

Firstly, it’s worth remembering that most clients understand that you need a holiday and want to spend time with your family. Many customers will be going on holiday themselves and it is generally the case that many businesses don’t make important decisions during the holiday season.

Secondly, it is important that you keep your customers in the picture so that they know exactly when you will be available and when not. As long as they have plenty of notice before you go on holiday, they can tell you of  any work they need to be done before you go, so it can be completed on time.

Thirdly, make sure that you change your answering machine message on your mobile, and use your out of office wizard on your email (if you have it), so any customers who have forgotten you are away get an appropriate message. This way they at least know that you are not ignoring them. Even better engage the services of a company such as the Call Clinic run by Jayne Gooch to cover your phones whilst you are gone.

Make sure you have completed all ongoing work as far as possible so you are not worrying about it during your time off. There is nothing worse than going away with a pile of work calling at you ensuring you cannot relax.

Finally, remember this. Everyone needs a break and you will work much more effectively when you get back if you have had a PROPER rest. Also remember the reason you became self employed in the first place. It was probably to get a better work/life balance and to ensure you had more family time!

Fiona 🙂