Slow Down

“We must have this out today,” “we gave this to you yesterday – why isn’t it done yet,” “we don’t have time to wait,” “we need to you to pick up a few more tasks”…  Rush, rush, rush – seems like all we do these days.  We are all connected 24/7 and most of us feel the need to maintain that connection – never powering down.  When we live and work like this, it takes a negative toll on our family, our life, our job, and our business.  As one who is very guilty of living and working non-stop, and pushing myself and others all the time, I often wondered “are we missing something by going so fast all of the time?”

The answer of course is “Yes, we are missing something.”  That something varies from business to business, and person to person.  Looking back, for our businesses, while we were working a steady 70-80 hours a week each a couple of years ago, we missed submission of a few very important documents that we didn’t learn about until too late.  Last year, we were so busy, we missed that we weren’t making any profit in one of our divisions.  This year we thought we were being smart trying to add a few extra tasks onto ourselves while keeping up with everything else we were doing – that didn’t work out so well either as we became spread too thin.  And those are just a few of the business things we missed.

From experience working with other organizations (both public and private), as well as our own experiences operating our businesses, we hypothesize that this is a common phenomenon.  We all get used to going so fast and taking on more and more, that we don’t even know what we are missing.  When we miss things, we cause a negative impact on our business, our employees, our lives, and our families – it’s all connected.  Also, we aren’t just “missing” things – we are not taking time to do the little things that keep our good employees loyal and motivated, keep our customers associated and engaged, and that keep our families connected.

So, what do we do?  We all need to make a living, run our businesses and build our businesses; and we can’t always afford to go out and hire ten more people to help out.  Here are a few things we are doing this year – we’ll let everyone know how they work:

  1. Put the phone down! We took out our Facebook… time and replaced it with family time and business development time.
  2. Don’t talk about it, do it.  Sometimes we find ourselves saying 10 times “we really need to….” instead of just taking action and doing what we know needs to be done.
  3. Finish what we start.  This one’s hard because it can involve not only personal time management, but the time management of others and factors over which we may have no control.  However, it is very inefficient to start and stop a task, so we are focusing on finishing what we start in a timely manner.
  4. Focus on what we can control.  This one is really hard as most of us who are business owners are control freaks, but we do know that it does us no good to fret over what we can’t control.  We need to figure out how to work with it or around it so we can keep moving forward.
  5. Close the door for some quiet time – sometimes we cannot close our door.  Other versions of this are possible – e.g., I started getting up and going in 30 minutes earlier three days a week so I can walk the job site and work a little before meetings start.
  6. Organize documents – email, computer files, paper files…  We found we were spending too much time looking for documents which was wasteful and frustrating.  Not to mention, we lost things because we put them in a “safe” place, and then could not find them again.
  7. Take a walk.  We need to be both mentally and physically healthy.  Exercise is shown to help in both areas – so we are making sure we take a walk.
  8. Spend more family time.  When we are happy, we are more productive.  When our family is happy, we are more productive.
  9. Hire someone.  We found that we were performing routine tasks that could be done by others saving us time, and allowing us to spend more time on billable functions.
  10. Streamline business and life – We are going through what we do and identifying what we can take off of our list.  We are taking off those things that aren’t critical for our business to succeed; and those things that aren’t necessary for our life/family to succeed.
  11. Don’t always volunteer – we are letting others have a turn.
  12. Don’t go to every event – we are picking and choosing.  And if we have to bring a dish, we don’t always cook something now – we just stop at the store and buy something!

Where do we go from here?

Our goals are to run an efficient and effective business to provide a quality service, to provide a good living for our family; and to enjoy ourselves and our family while doing so.  With that said, we, like many others need to slow down a little.  We need to find and maintain balance.  We have committed to take steps above to do just that this year.

© 2014 Heather Williams-Cavaretta

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