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Taking Care of Business

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Some days, it feels like we’re working 5 to 9 instead of 9 to 5.coffee cup

There are so many competing demands from work, kids, partners, family – even friends.

This is especially true if you are a women running your business.

Interestingly, Australian women are starting small businesses at twice the rate of men.

I’m one of them. But it’s taken almost ten years to work out how to manage it.

And I don’t just mean financially.

Connectivity allows us to respond to clients within minutes.

We fear turning off, lest we miss valuable opportunities.

Yet research shows ‘mini-breaks’, of as little as 5-to-10 minutes, actually improve our productivity.

In the US, Dr. Mark Guadagnoli, who holds a dual PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Human Performance, has been testing a theory called, “Ready, Set, Pause“, in which participants take an eight minute break at regular intervals throughout the day.

One convert is Amy Jo Martin from www.digitalroyalty.com: “That quick pause allowed me to release the tension that had been building with each meeting, and to take a hiatus from my stress and anxiety.

But it’s not just work.

Whether you’re a parent, carer, or friend, we all feel compelled to give, give, and give a bit more.

Like most women, some days I want to scream, “Enough!”

Recently, Nescafe Cafe Menu did a Newspoll of 1000 women, aged between 25 and 44, about their ‘5-to-9’ lifestyles.

On average, we only manage to fit in three 10-to-15 minute breaks during the day.

Subsequently, we’ve become rather inventive!

Four out of five women admit to bribing their kids, to get a break.

Hilariously, one in three skip pages during bedtime stories.

(I remember being sprung by an older kid on a sleepover: “Hey, you’ve missed, like, five pages!” he complained. Oops.)

And apparently I’m not the only one who hides in the toilet, either at home or work, for peace and quiet (stinky, but effective).

So, in order to achieve a semblance of sanity, I’ve come up with five tips for running your own business, without running yourself into the ground.

  • Selective outsourcing. This sounds expensive, but it’s not. It frees up time for you to concentrate on your core business. Remember, your hourly rate is generally more than that of your contractors.
  • Creating boundaries. For employees and family members alike. When I’m working from home, the kids know not to knock on the office door – unless the house is on fire, of course.
  •  Digital detox. Turn off when it’s sensible to do so. This will be different for every business. As my clients are predominantly corporate, I shut down on public holidays and weekends.
  •  Manage expectations. If you respond within 5 minutes to every email, your clients will demand that. It’s perfectly reasonable to take up to 24, even 48, hours to get back to someone, if the matter isn’t urgent.

Regular breaks. Move away from your workspace. Have a coffee, go for a walk, or phone a friend. And breathe. Ahhhh. Doesn’t that feel good?

I doubt whether we’ll ever return to 9-to-5.

So, we 5-to9ers have to create escape values, to reduce the pressure.

Now, I’m off to have a nice cup of coffee….


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