I know first hand just how hard being a small business owner can be. Some days, we all just feel like throwing in the towel. Everyone and everything seems to be coming at us all at once. Bills are due, the phone has been ringing nonstop but only with people looking to sell you things, projects are running behind, and you still have to find some time to make it to a networking event or two for some new client prospecting.
Being a small business owner can be a lonely job. Many of us don’t have any employees. This makes weekly staff meetings really short but can also lead to long days and the wearing of many hats. Even if you have employees, that just adds to the todo list, knowing you have training, and hiring, and delegating. Oh, if you only had had time for delegating! Before you know it, your business seems to be running away from you…or running you over.
So, how does one fight off the small business blues? First and foremost, stop and take a deep breath. No, seriously: take a deep breath. Close your eyes (well, finish this article first) and let the world just pass by for a few silent moments. It is too easy to get caught up in the stress of the moment. This only makes things worse. Let everything go and rest in the sweet nothingness. Now that your hands (and head) are empty, it is much easier to start cleaning up the mess that has become your life and your business. Look around and pick the two most important things to get done (I mean it, pick only two). Get those two things complete, then look for the next two most important things.
You see, the small business blues mainly come from keeping our plates, hands, and head so full that we don’t have any room to organize and get things straight. We only have two hands, so I figure God only meant for us to hold two things at a time. If we try to hold onto anymore, all we can do is stumble around and wait for things to fall out of our hands so we have room to work. Of course, when things fall they break. Let’s not let our business break. Instead, we all have to get better at setting everything down and then only picking those things up that we intend to tackle right this moment. The only thing that matters is the task in front of us. Complete it, then you can focus on the next.
This may seem like common sense (no pun intended), but it is a hard trick to master. When the world is coming at us at 100 miles per hour, we start ducking. Unfortunately, nothing can get down as we cower behind our desks. That is why it is so important to slow things down and focus only on the here and now. We like to think that we can multi-task, but study after study has shown that this is a myth. When we are multi-tasking, our brain is actually switching from one thing to another. Even though this happens in split seconds, the constant back and forth causes stress, anxiety, and missed details. It can make easy tasks feel overwhelming.
Bottom line: if you want to be happier, more productive, and less stressed, dump the small business blues by stopping to pretend that you can do everything all at once. Set aside time and time limits for each task. Let your phone go to voicemail, ignore that text for a half-hour, close your email (unless that is the task your on), and be amazed by how much you can get done, one thing at a time.