By Kate Browning, Founder of Cherry Blossom Management
More often than not in today’s society we are encouraged to ‘fill’ our time and that busy is good, it shows success and if you aren’t busy there is something wrong and in some way you are failing. It can be in a work capacity that if we aren’t fully booked with clients, or filling our time constantly with self development, learning, networking, working on the business, then we are failing as a business owner.
How about in our home life, we feel we ‘should’ be making home improvements, working on the garden, taking care of our partners, children, parents, volunteering for charity, catching up on the latest Netflix series and of course having that super fabulous social life seeing friends face to face or via zoom, socially distanced walks, birthday celebrations and so much more.
Do you know what? I call bulls**t on all of it!
Who says we HAVE to be busy all the time, we SHOULD be at the top of our game constantly, be full vibe with our social life every week?! Who sets these standards, these expectations that are simply impossible to meet and pressure us into a reality that is simply bloomin exhausting?! The real answer is we do. We set ourselves these goals, these expectations by comparing what we see in the media, on social platforms and we compare ourselves and our lives to the air brushed images and views we see, that are not an accurate representation of what real life looks like.
One thing I have learnt as a business owner is that busy doesn’t always mean productive, that you are achieving your goals and isn’t always positive.
You can fill your time with ‘stuff’ but some of that stuff isn’t adding to your income, to your happiness and well-being and therefore may just be a filler to make you feel busy.
The key is to work smarter, but not harder or for longer. You don’t have to work 50/60/70 hours a week to be a success and even success is subjective. It means something different to each person and isn’t just measured in monetary terms.
Know what is working for your biz
For example perhaps you spend several hours a week on social media, however your audience doesn’t really spend much time there, they don’t engage with your content and they don’t buy from you through those channels. Therefore could you spend less time on social and use that time for something else? Either post less, outsource to a professional, find a way to streamline the process so it takes you less time, or even look at other ways to market your business effectively that works for you.
Don't forget the important things
How about taking time for self care, do you take time each day for you? Step away from work, family commitments and have ‘you’ time. It doesn’t have to be hours each day, it could be a half an hour walk in the morning, 10 minutes of meditation before bed, taking an hour lunch break where you step away from your laptop/workstation and relax. Studies have shown that people who incorporate self care into their ‘working’ day are more productive individuals, even though technically they are ‘working’ less. If you have time to relax, regroup and recenter yourself, you have a clear head, feel happier, more satisfied and more fulfilled, therefore are likely to work smarter, be more productive and enjoy what you are doing.
For me I get up a little earlier so I can start my day with a walk before I start working. I don’t check my emails or social media beforehand, so I go out with a fresh mind and can be in the moment. I also take at least 30-60 minutes lunch away from my laptop and desk. If it’s sunny and warm I’ll have lunch in the garden (like today – as I write this I’m sat in my garden enjoying the sunshine). I also switch off the internet on my phone at 8pm, so I’m not distracted with social media and emails in the evenings. These aren’t things I started doing at the beginning of my business, these are things I’ve learnt make me more productive, a better business owner, but also happier. After all, if you aren’t having fun and feel happy, then what’s the point?!
Work smarter not harder
The average person is expected to work 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, if you are self employed then probably longer, but the truth is you simply don’t have to work this way. If you want to work three days a week and can still pay your bills and have fun then go for it! If you prefer working evenings and not starting your working day until lunch time, then you do that. The point is there is no right way, you do what works for you.
Being ‘busy’ all the time doesn’t necessarily mean good. Look at how you are spending your time, do an audit of your time, see what works for you, what adds value and where you could simply spend your time better. Incorporate time in for self care and reflection and if you can build it into your routine it becomes easier. Even if it’s half an hour each day to sit and read a book, watch tv, have a nap, whatever makes you happy. When a coach first mentioned this to me I thought they were mad! I can’t take time out of my working day to go for a walk, or an hour lunch is insane, but now it’s part of my routine and I work less hours but get much more done, because I’m happy and way more productive.
I also regularly do a time audit and look at where I’m spending my time and see if there is anything I can outsource, or cut down on so I spend my time more carefully and have more free time.
You don’t have to be constantly busy to achieve things. Work smarter, not harder. Use your time wisely, streamline, automate and outsource things in your business to claw back time. Don’t compare yourself to others or set yourself goals and expectations that are so high, it will stress you out and drain you to reach and don’t feel the need to be ‘on it’ all the time, you are human, not superwoman/superman, cut yourself some slack and treat yourself as you would treat others.
Remember busy doesn’t always mean productive or success and self care isn’t selfish, it’s essential!
About Kate Browning
Cherry Blossom Management offers business, event and lifestyle support services through Virtual PA and OBM support. I love working with fun, creative, ambitious individuals and empowering them, supporting their business and watching them grow and flourish. Outside of work I love to travel, read, music, theatre, am a full on crazy cat lady - I even have a cat tattoo on my wrist. I have a fascination with geology, particularly volcanoes and am an aspiring novelist.
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