Hey Entrepreneurs: How You Manage Your Down Time This Summer Matters!

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There’s nothing more liberating and emancipating than being your own boss. All those years spent trying to climb the greased pole that was the corporate ladder were so frustrating that they were beginning to take a toll not only on your sense of self worth but your mental health. You slaved for so long under the yoke of the system; overworked, undervalued, under-appreciated and worst of all… Underpaid. The best thing you ever did was quit the day job and dedicate yourself to your own business. Now you run a fully functioning enterprise either from the comfort of your own home or from your very own premises. But while your business may be growing and even thriving and you may now enjoy the freedom and sense of agency that comes with trading the life of a worker drone for a life of entrepreneurship, now it’s more important than ever to guard against entrepreneurial burnout.

As your business expands, so too does your responsibility to it and if you’re not careful, you may become a victim of your own success. With the inevitability of the summer slump draining workplace productivity, it’s likely that you’re working twice as hard and putting in more hard work than ever to compensate for the slump. But this is neither sustainable nor conducive to good health. Carry on like this and you’ll be reduced to an emotionally volatile and creatively stunted shadow of your former self. It’s vitally important that you take some down time. But that doesn’t just mean sitting at home and playing video games (although a little of that is fine too). Here are some genuinely restful activities for downtime which will relax you while also stimulating your mind and body and growing the skills you need to come back to work stronger and smarter than ever…

Boating

What could be more restful than taking your whole family out for some “vitamin sea”. Renting or buying a vessel from Premier Boating and taking to the water is not just a fun way to spend your down time, it also has proven restorative qualities for your mental health. The color blue is known to have calming and stress relieving qualities while watching the ebb and flow of the ocean actually changes our brainwave activity and lulls us into a more meditative state. Likewise all that sunlight and fresh air are nourishing for the mind and body, ensuring that you return to work bursting with new ideas.

Cycling

Cycling is another great way of relieving stress while also ensuring that you get a great anabolic and cardiovascular workout. The act of cycling stimulates both the heart and the mind, ensuring a greater flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, thereby ensuring that you return to work at your most rejuvenated and productive.

Hiking

We all know that a good, brisk walk is a great way to stimulate the mind while also burning a surprising 94-200 calories per 30 minutes depending on speed. Aside from the shot of dopamine and endorphins that come with cardiovascular exercise, you will also get all the mental health and productivity benefits that come with spending time in nature.

Remember, it’s not only important to allow yourself plenty of down time. How you spend it matters too!

The Importance of Finding The Time For Fun

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Time is an incredibly precious resource, much more valuable than money, and one of the best ways we can consume our time is to use it having fun… yet, we live in such a busy and chaotic world that fun is often pushed to the backburner of life, with productivity, making money, and getting things done seen as a much higher priority.

In addition, we are so digitally connected today that it can be hard to switch off from checking emails and social media notifications, even when we should be relaxing for the night or doing something relaxing with our family.  We now, seem to always be on the go as our work life balance has certainly been knocked off kilter.

Whether you work for someone else, yourself, or own a business many people don’t seem to be able to find the time to fully switch off, disconnect from work and enjoy their lives – it’s like we’ve stopped making time for fun and replaced this with being on a constant treadmill of work that is often referred to as the rat race.

The reality is that we need to proactively make time for fun stuff.  Here’s some tips on how to make the best use of your time in order to get things done as efficiently as possible and therefore have free time and headspace to fully enjoy your life.

  1. ORGANIZE YOUR TIME

The convenience of online working and online studying means you have much more time to enjoy your life.  We spend far too much time living in reaction to work – trying to fit our lives in, yet it doesn’t have to be that way; the amount of time you can save by having a good planning system in place is phenomenal… a lot of “time management” comes down to first planning your tasks so that you can keep on top of things with ease.

  1.  OUTSOURCE

The power of outsourcing is huge from a time management perspective.  There are many things you can outsource from having people write up your audio recordings, to managing social media presence and web development.  However, outsourcing isn’t just about outsourcing tasks to people; today there are many ways that data can be incredibly useful to our business growth, but rather than struggle and get to grips with it yourself, it can be a time saving, and therefore money saving, idea to outsource the learning to cloudstream partners for instance as you are essentially reducing your learning curve.

  1.  THE PARETO PRINCIPLE

The Pareto Principle, often referred to as the 80/20 rule suggests that twenty percent of our activities account for eighty percent of the outcome.  You therefore want to focus on the tasks that are going to have the greatest impact and get these done first.

In summary, it’s important to make time for fun, and not to focus solely on work, but the only true way to be able to enjoy your time is if you have got enough done to enable you to relax, rest and have fun rather than for your mind to be preoccupied with work.

How To Make Working From Home Easier

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So many people have this preconceived idea that working from home is easy. For some reason, they assume that because you’re not leaving the house and driving yourself from A to B, that it isn’t a real job. But if you currently do remote work, be it running a business or something else, you will know that it isn’t easy – it can be extremely challenging, even more so than a regular job because you’re having to try and focus in a place that originally wasn’t made for work, it was made for comfort and security. It’s a balancing act that a lot of people will never understand until they’re in your shoes, and that’s okay.

But if you knew that there were things that you could do in order to make your life a lot simpler, you’d do them.

So here’s just a few examples of what can be done.

Remove any distractions

Distraction is every worker’s biggest issue, especially when you’re working from home. You will be surrounded by things that you’ll want to do, and part of your job is to block out all of those things so that you can get tasks done and meet all the deadlines and targets that you have been given. If you don’t live alone, then you are going to have to make sure that you are able to work when and if they’re home. It may be worth having a talk with them and explain that when you’re working – you’re working, and you can’t afford to break the concentration you have, otherwise it will be extremely hard to get it back again.

Update the software

If you’re stuck behind the times, then your business will be too. Technology is constantly improving and becoming more advanced, and that means that the software is as well. We all know how frustrating it is when you’re trying to find something on your device, be it a contact or a document, only to have to sieve through so many other files and data that cause you to waste valuable time that could be put to better use. And you don’t want that when you’re trying to do business. Symfact offers you software to be able to take full control over your contracts like vital business transactions, so you can keep everything else looking organized and tidy.

Create the space

Regardless of how big or small your house is, you need to ensure you have enough space to work in. So if, for example, you have a spare room that is full of storage, then it would be a very good idea to clean this out and turn it into a suitable office space for you to work in and call your own. Or maybe you can even look at small cabins that can be put in the garden. You will find things extremely difficult if you’re trying to work in bed, or in the living room where you usually hang out, because that is the place you go for downtime, and using that for work will mess up the structure of everything.

Limit Your Leap Of Faith: Developing A Career Change When You’re Already In One

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In life, we are all looking for the next challenge. If you feel that your current job is not providing that fulfilment it once was, it’s now time to think about transitioning from one career to another. However, it’s not that easy, it’s something that takes time, effort, and the necessary qualifications. Time is the biggest factor, especially when you are working a full-time job. And while it’s foolish to give up your current job to take this leap of faith into a new career, especially when you don’t know what it’s going to be like, what can you do to develop a career change while you are already in one?

Understand The Commitments Of The New Career

Of course, a new beginning looks great on paper, but when you sign up for the relevant courses, it is at this point you might realize what you got yourself into. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to gain a relevant qualification, because of online degrees, so if you were to complete an online BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) or an MBA (Masters in Business Administration), it’s vital for you to know how much of a commitment these courses are. Luckily, a lot of distance learning can be done part-time. This gives you a lot of breathing space as far as your current job is concerned.

Maintain A Work-Life Balance

And while courses can be done part-time, it’s still important for you to ensure you have a healthy work-life balance. You could be working from 9 to 5, and then coming home and doing coursework, and if you are someone with a family, you can feel the pressures. And while it’s easier said than done, it’s important for you to maintain a work-life balance by structuring everything to the finest point. Look at your duties in life, and plan a structure so you can complete your course, do your job, but also, still enjoy life.

Don’t Let Your Dream Career Interfere With Your Current One

While it’s exciting to jump ship from your current job, as you prepare your career transition, you don’t want to ignore your current responsibilities. Lots of people stop caring when they know they are about to leave. But you still need a good reference, especially if you’ve been with the company for a long time. It’s these people who will recommend to your future employer what you’re like to work with, and they know very well how you work because you’ve been with them for so long. And while it’s easy to mentally “check out”, don’t burn your bridges.

It’s an exciting transition in life, and when you’ve decided on your new career, taking the positive steps can feel like you are reclaiming your life. But developing a new career is something that is almost like developing a side hustle; you have to do a little bit, as much as you can, until your part-time endeavors get to the point where you can’t balance both anymore. And while it can be a challenge to maintain both, in this modern world it’s necessary for you to be practical while pursuing your dream job.

How Companies Can Offer Work Life Balance Perks

Work life balance is a desired state by most (excluding workaholics/those married to their career).

But talking about it versus providing it can be challenging.

As a company, how can you creatively offer this perk?

According to this Forbes article, Millennials crave healthcare benefits which fit under the category of: wellness.

Instead of looking at work life balance as separating your personal from professional life, picture it as one encompassing circle. If you do that offering wellness becomes simple.

Let me explain. Mental health has recently become a priority to workers because it’s preventative. Rather than offering gym membership reimbursements, offer Headspace or a Life Coach as an alternative. As long as it positively affects the company’s bottom line, what difference does it make what “means” helps achieve that goal?

Consider the paradigm shift from a recruitment standpoint. Companies should be looking at ways to enhance worker’s personal lives since that has the biggest impact on performance.

When I work as an external coach my goal is for each employee is for them to leave better than when they came in (to meet with me). That means doing whatever it takes to minimize distractions so workers can get focused. Usually their “issues” have nothing to do with work. If something’s wrong relationally outside of work, it’s brought into the office. That’s what I mean by one encompassing circle.

Most management philosophies emphasize getting workers focused, but in my opinion it’s just the opposite. Hone in on removing distractions and you’re freed up to do your best work.

This translates directly to work life balance because focusing on wellness tactics that actually work matter. Understanding the “why” behind people’s motivations is key to unlocking optimal productivity. Evaluating current programs, gathering employee feedback and ultimately measuring data will reveal the wellness solutions you’re searching for.

The Startup Pitfalls That You’ll Unwillingly Step Into

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When you fail to hit your targets, you might turn to blaming your bad luck as the reason that you’re not doing too hot. While it’s completely understandable that you would be frustrated, you need to come to grips with the cold, hard truth; it was your own fault. You are in control of your business and you are the one that controls its success or failures, so it’s important to learn from your mistakes and move on after you’ve analyzed them. If you want a better chance of running a successful business, then here are a couple of common startup pitfalls that you’ll need to avoid at all costs.

Forgetting About Your Life

Operating your own business is incredibly stressful and a lot of hard work. As such, it’s important to remember that you have a life outside of your business and you should do your best not to forget that. As much as you want your business to succeed, it will all be for nothing if you fail to look after your own health or your commitments outside of your job. Don’t marry your work; make sure you save time to spend with your friends and family so you don’t overwork yourself. If you need convincing, take a look at this article from afterninetofive.net to learn why overworking yourself is never a good idea.

Failing to Budget

Money makes the world (and your business) go round. Without money, you won’t be able to pay employees, expand your business, advertise your products and so on. This should be fairly obvious, but what might not be obvious is that you actually need to budget for your business as well. Whether you hire an accountant or do it yourself with cloud accounting software, make sure you’re always in the green and that all of your expenses are optimizing so you aren’t wasting money. If you feel like you’re in financial trouble, then services like Businesslineof.credit can be a fantastic helping hand that will drag you out of that pit. Every business will need a loan at some point whether it’s to grow the company or expand their operations, so don’t neglect it.

Neglecting Analytics

The best way to learn what’s going on with your business is to use analytics. By analyzing your business and recording data such as how your customers respond to certain changes on your website or what demographic your products are popular with, you can use those statistics to create better products, marketing campaigns and so on.

Aiming Too High

And we also can’t forget that aiming too high is a legitimate concern that you should be careful of. If you try to take on giants in business by considering them your rival, then you’ll quickly learn that you simply cannot compete with them. Know your place in your industry and gradually work your way up. Don’t think that you can overtake any business within your first year of operating because it takes a lot of work to grow.

What’s At The Core Of A Micromanager?

If you work under a micromanager (most do) it’s a matter of time before you leave your job.

But in order to cope and make the best of your current situation, it’s helpful to understand what makes a micromanager tick. To help lengthen your present tenure learning to manage your boss is key.

Micromanagers rarely ever change, but knowing how to deal with them provides some daily sanity.

Micromanagers have trust issues. Requesting autonomy from them as an employee is purely a nuisance. Micromanagers view freedom as a threat. Releasing power is a micromanager’s kryptonite. They want to know, communicate and oversee everything. Don’t expect praise, support or early information. Micromanagers view that as weak.

If you view micromanagers as bulldozers it’s because they are. Micromanagers see people as the vehicle to accomplish their tasks. If you’ve ever felt “talked-down to” or with a condescending tone that’s the voice of a micromanager. Remove them from formal conversations at work and their lack of social skills are evident. Position is said to be weakest form of leadership and in social situations micromanagers feel inadequate. Micromanagers overcompensate so heavily in the areas they feel competent in it’s glaring. Micromanagers will never be referred to as leaders, only as your boss.

Chances are your micromanager’s life is work. It’s their identity. They scoff at work-life balance because they see no need for it. Some will ask occasionally how you are doing, but they get uncomfortable talking about their own personal life since it’s basically non-existent. Who has time for hobbies, family, friends or fun when you’re working 80 hours a week? Usually micromanagers will hound you for staying on top of things, while they’re quite disorganized in their role. Do as I say, not as I do – that’s classic micromanager talk. It’s hard for micromanagers to show empathy because they don’t value it. Work comes first, second and third in terms of priorities.

Being under a micromanager feels like you’re walking on egg shells. Every time there’s an interaction, request or meeting you anticipate critical feedback (because it usually happens). Micromanagers have serious control issues. Don’t expect to grow or develop under their rule. Any hint of development is seen as a threat. Micromanagers are stingy with their praise because it signals a chance you might overtake their position. Micromanagers remind you frequently who’s in charge and crush your soul while they’re at it. Surround yourself with a strong support system to vent to or else you’ll go crazy.

At the core of micromanagers lie deep insecurities. Secure leaders don’t have to stomp on others to feel good about themselves. Even when something’s not your fault, they’ll still find a way to place the blame on you. One indicator of a true micromanager is the absence of apologies. They are quick to point fingers, but don’t take responsibility when they screw up. Leaders set their people up to succeed, micromanagers set their people up to fail. The unfortunate part of micromanagers is they are rarely equipped for the role. Most managers are vaulted into the position because of technical prowess or seniority. Little do they know what got you here won’t help you as a manager. Instead of trying to learn a different skill set, micromanagers choose the path of least resistance: do it my way or take the highway.

Micromanagement isn’t a disease, but a choice. And a choice you have to make is how long will you put up with it before leaving.

The X-Factor For Employee Retention

x-factor

I admit I believe in work-life separation, but even an old dog can learn new tricks.

Being a corporate newbie (former FT entrepreneur) I can relate to that Scrubs episode where Dr. Kelso stepped one foot out the hospital and started whistling like he had no cares in the world.

Am I heartless? Far from it. But as I moonlighted as a contractor I walked into companies as a hired gun. I enjoyed getting to know people, but subconsciously I never mixed business with personal. It’s my way of keeping boundaries.

But now being an employee I’m starting to see things differently. I’ll never be that guy who grabs a drink after work with co-workers for 2 reasons: 1) I want to see my kids and wife as soon as work is over 2) I don’t drink. It’s not something I’m against, more so a different time in my life.

Yet what’s changed for me in the past month or so is my view towards friends at work. I’m completely fine with putting my head down, banging my work out and leaving unnoticed. But something happened along the way…

My role at work is to support our employees (online tutors). It happens over Zoom (video conferencing) weekly. Ironically I wasn’t taking the same approach to work relationships, but my shift in behavior has made me re-think work.

Maybe it’s the remote environment of the company I work for, but outside of compensation who you connect with at work is the X-factor of retention. This is a quality, not quantity issue. You can bond over work projects, but the natural foundation of a true friendship is built over common interests and reciprocity. Effort alone guarantees nothing, but without it you’ll get nowhere. The interest has to be mutual.

Honestly I’ll never be that guy who calls his work friends his best friends, but knowing there are more than a handful of people at my company I am interested in connecting with outside of work is a huge step in the right direction for me.

So where do you fall on the friends at work spectrum?

Why Startups Are Overrated

startup-life

Follow your passion. Chase your dreams.

Bad advice depending on your age/life stage.

The startup life is glorified from the outside, but those inside the ropes think differently.

Your corporate 9-5 job may suck the life out of you, but imagine working 40+ hours and getting paid less.

Think the grass is greener on the other side? Try turning grass over. It’s brown.

Similar to entrepreneurship and parenting, everything you see/read/learn doesn’t equate to first-hand experience.

Working for a startup is grueling. Long hours for little pay isn’t for everyone. Age/life stage should be your determining factor.

In your 20’s your career is most important, so working hard for something you believe in takes priority.

In your 30’s relationships (dating/marriage/family) are most important, so working hard to support your desired lifestyle take priority.

In your 40’s planning for retirement is most important, so working hard to secure your future takes priority.

Startups are ideal for people in their 20’s or younger. Fewer responsibilities means less concerns about work life balance.

Once you enter your 30’s boundaries become important. The difference lies in what you do after work: going to the bar with friends vs. going home to see your family.

There’s nothing wrong with chasing the American dream, but the better question to ask is: when are you chasing it?

Keeping Your Millennial Workforce Happy

Guest post by Faith MacAnas

hi-five

One of the key features of the millennial generation is their focus on job satisfaction and life fulfillment is a lot higher than their predecessors. Happier employees have a better and higher quality output; this has made the necessity for employee satisfaction strategies more important than ever. These following examples are just a few areas where adjustments can be made that will motivate your millennial workforce and optimize your business.

• Flexibility

For the first time, young workers are prioritizing their work-life balance over their paycheck. They want to be able to travel, balance their family and social life or pick up side projects. While full remote working conditions are inadvisable, providing some level of flexibility is a great tactic. This offer could come in the form of career breaks or simply the opportunity to work alternate hours from home on occasion.

student-with-mentor-on-computer

    Crisp Technology

Millennials have grown up at the forefront of technology; they have always had the latest editions and expect their technology to be in good working order. Companies that can’t afford the latest pieces now allow staff members to work on their own devices. While this can save money, it does also require ensuring the security of confidential company data on machines that will leave the office. You can guarantee protection by investing in a company-wide Virtual Private Network program for all staff members to use or by creating an internal system where work can be shared exclusively.

    Career Paths

Today’s young workers live in a shaky economy, and they know it. While they worry about the promise of work, they also will quickly jump ship if their jobs don’t appear to provide them with the opportunity to progress. Give your millennial workforce a voice; allow them input into innovation ideas and company policy. Ensure feedback channels are open, and offer opportunities for training courses or department transfers. Show that you are willing to invest in them, and they are much more likely to invest in you and your company.

woman-holding-money

    Cash Incentives

If all else fails, then there’s one language everyone speaks: cash. Nothing gets motivation going like the promise of a bonus, and there are none who don’t relish the opportunity to make more money. However, there are both pros and cons to this strategy. If, for example, you set a goal for workers to achieve to secure the bonus, and they do not succeed, it’s possible to disenfranchise them further. It’s wise to set goals that are both realistic and progressive.

Millenials are some of most forward-thinking workers around today. They naturally possess crucial knowledge and hold to the key to the future. If you haven’t already implemented strategies to ensure you keep them motivated and dedicated, then now is the time to start doing so!

About the Author: Faith is a blogger and marketing and strategy expert. She specializes in internet security. She enjoys sharing what she’s learned with other business owners online.