Congratulations on surviving 2020 – the nightmare that was and will go down in history. Okay, it’s almost over in that it’s mid November as I write this, but the end is very much now in sight. Hurrah!
Chances are your business went one of two ways – either you were deathly quiet which somewhat did your head in, or you were so run off your feet pivoting and turning your business into something resembling an online powerhouse or doing something a bit different to what you normally do, you’ve worked 100 hour weeks just to keep up. And let’s be real, just because you were working 100 hours a week doesn’t mean you were making good money in the process. But likewise, if your business was super quiet for a lot of 2020, chances are you’re now also working 100 hours a week just to get things back to where you were in February this year.
All that time spent with the feeling of running in place, or worse falling behind, has led to the majority of us feeling a bit burnt out. In fact, according to Korn Ferry research around 70% of us were dealing with burnout brought on by the lack of separation of work and home, unmanageable workloads and worries over financial security. And that was probably closer to 100% of those with businesses.
Now it might seem counter intuitive, especially as you’ve likely encountered ‘enforced’ time away from the office/business, but if you’re one of those who has struggled or is struggling with burnout, taking a break at Christmas might be just what the Dr. ordered.
You might be thinking ‘but I’ve already had so much time away’ or ‘I can’t take a break, I’m swamped’. Well, remember the fable of the two tree fellers. One who slogged and slogged away and the other who took breaks to sharpen his axe, who ultimately felled his tree first. Enough said. Take a break – completely away from work – it will still be there in a few days/week, etc.
Thriving in 2021 requires more than a break though.
But as important as taking a break is, it’s not the only thing to plan for. As excited as we all are to see the back of 2020, just because the clock ticks over into January 2021, realistically little is likely to change significantly in the short term. Working from home, social distancing and financial security/business/economy worries are still likely to hang around for a while like a bad smell.
So thinking about what other measures you can put in place for surviving 2020 and its aftermath are a good idea. We came up with the following:
Set yourself a schedule
The problem with working from home (or needing to work 50-80 hours a week to keep up regardless of where you’re working) is that work is never far from your mind, or your phone/tablet/computer. So in your planning to start 2021 as you mean to go on even with the current constraints likely remaining in place, you need to find a way to lower your stress levels better.
One of the ways to do that is to create yourself a routine where you don’t look at emails, continue to work, etc after whatever time. And don’t. Take yourself off for a walk, pull weeds in the garden, go to the gym/pool, go for a ride, talk to a friend, sketch the sunset, clean your closet/pantry/shoes, repaint your bedroom, knit, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it can’t be interpreted by your brain as work. You get extra points if what you choose means your brain has to focus on it. A friend of mine finds that when she draws she can’t focus on anything else. She says she’s not great at it, hence it’s hard, but it’s a complete brain break.
Set an alarm – with the message of ‘go paint’ or whatever your activity is. When it goes off, stop what you’re doing – even if what you’re working on will only take another half an hour (let’s face it, it won’t and you’ll find more work to do, because well it’s there). And get up and go do the thing. Even if you really ‘have to’ come back to finish work off later because it’s vitally important, you’ll feel more refreshed and chances are it won’t take as long as if you’d just slogged it out.
And here’s the thing, if you’re working from home, you might want to set that alarm to do a couple of different activities several times a day. Just for 5 – 10 mins at a time – no-one works flat out for 7-8-10 hours a day. No-one! So don’t feel that that’s what’s expected.
Change your scenery
If you can manage it, plan to work for a couple of days from a different location every so often – even if it’s your mother’s/sister’s/friend’s house. Time with other people’s company is likely to fill your social needs bucket, help you blow off a little pent up steam and it will contain your working hours to something that resembles a little more normal. At the very least, working from the backyard or down by the river for a few hours might just be the reset you need.
Plan for the future
There’s plenty of research around that shows we humans do much better when we have things to look forward to. Think anything to look forward to. Plan some of those things into your diary and now, thanks to the NSW Govt’s recent budget, we’ll each be able to go out to dinner twice and plan two movies/theatre/cultural activities into the diary too – helped along by NSW state government stimulus.
Plan in some flexibility
If you’re a business owner, chances are you’ve set and achieved yourself some pretty good goals over the years. 2020 though might have felt like the universe laughed every time you tried to figure a plan. So with that in mind, think about what outcomes you’d like to see in 2021, but practice both flexibility in how you prepare to achieve those things (a round or two of if this, then that can help there) and a zen-master-like level of detachment from achieving them.
Of course if you’d like to formulate a plan for 2021 by getting your business’ financial statements, forecasting or budgets in better shape, we can help with that. You can call us on 02 6023 1700 or get in touch via the form below.
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If you've got financial or business questions, or you just want to run something by us, we'd be delighted to really talk to you – in person, over the phone - call us on 02 6023 1700 - or you can use the form below and we'll get back to you.