How to balance working on and in your business

Small business owners usually do a mixture of working on and in their business. It’s very easy to get sucked into working IN your business to generate profits and income today but it is also essential to work ON your business to grow and generate future profits.

So how do we get the balance right?

I use a default diary to try and ensure that I get a good balance at the planning stage.

Monday: ON catch up on admin, clear my inbox, follow up leads.
Tuesday: IN Write, rehearse and record webinars and talks for the speaking and training parts of my business. 
Wednesday: IN Minerva Accountants work.
Thursday: ON/IN Marketing and content writing for myself and third parties as I write content and articles for fintechs and accountants.
Friday: IN/ON Individual and group coaching for my various online programmes and then my own business development time, implementing ideas from books, webinars and conferences that I have attended.

Of course, in the real world, it isn’t easy to stick to this but having it in my diary in the first place means that I am more likely to move my work slots around than to cancel them completely.

On a Friday afternoon I like to plan out any remaining work in my diary so that I can hit the ground running on a Monday morning.

How do you structure your week?

What is decision fatigue? (part 2)

Decision fatigue is the exhaustion that comes with making constant decisions. My tip this week is to remove some more of the smaller decisions in your life, so here are some ideas for deciding what to eat AND trying to keep it healthy(ish).

I really admire those people who spend a day each weekend bulk cooking for the whole week. Although I love cooking I’m not that organised.

  1. Plan your meals a week ahead so that you don’t end up ordering a takeaway or snacking on junk just because you’re hungry and can’t decide what to eat.
  2. Cook double quantities and freeze half for a busy day.
  3. Order a veg box. You just have to cook what turns up, whether you like it or not. If anybody has any recipes for courgettes where you can’t taste the courgettes then please send them to me. It’s not just the veg box but the only things I have growing in my garden are tomatoes and … courgettes.
  4. Order a fruit box. Healthy snacks! Also pots of dried fruit and bowls of homemade popcorn instead of crisps for those who prefer something savoury.
  5. ‘Hello Fresh’ and similar meal boxes. Choose them in a matter of minutes ready for the following week. It’s great for trying new things and they come with brilliant instructions so the teens are able to cook a meal without input from me.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on.

What is decision fatigue?

Decision fatigue is the exhaustion that comes with making constant decisions. My tip this week is to remove some of the smaller decisions in your life so here are some ideas for deciding what to wear.

I’d like to think that I simplified my wardrobe long before Steve Jobs or Barack Obama but I don’t know when they started to wear their ‘uniform’ rather than spending time deciding what to wear each day.

  1. The simplest thing is to limit your wardrobe to one main colour so that you need fewer changes to match outfits. You may have noticed that I’m almost always wearing blue with black footwear.
  2. I also wear branded polo shirts and jeans for normal work days. They’re as comfortable as a t-shirt so can be worn when working from home but the collar makes them slightly smarter. Choose something that matches your business image.
  3. These days I follow a 333 clothes system where I choose 33 items of clothing (excluding underwear and sports kit) to last me 3 months. Any seasonal clothes get stored in a box in the loft. I’m pleasantly surprised that I haven’t needed to cheat yet but you set your own rules.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on.

Morning routine of a moderately successful woman

Do you ever read those articles about people who get up at 4am, run 10 miles, meditate, create a new business product and look absolutely gorgeous before their kids are even awake? Apparently this is the reason they’re so successful.

Well here’s my version.

My alarm goes off at 7am and I eventually stagger downstairs to put on the kettle. I take a pot of tea (and some breakfast) back to bed and throw a sandwich and drink in the direction of my daughter’s room as she’s even worse in the mornings than I am.

Once I’ve drunk the 2 pint pot of tea I start to feel human so my next task is to decide whether to go for a run. This decision making process goes on until I run out of time.

After I’ve kicked the children out of their beds and off to school, I check my diary and realise that what I thought was a coaching call by phone is actually a video meeting so I throw on some suitable clothes and do a 30 second makeup job on my face. I have a post-it note on my laptop reminding me to smile for my audience. It does the trick and I soon feel genuinely cheerful. It helps that I like my job.

Fortunately, by now, my brain is sufficiently rehydrated that I’m able to get some decent work done throughout the rest of the day but, rest assured, my morning routine is nothing like the gods of industry. And, while there is definitely room for improvement, I’m actually quite happy with my slow start to the day.

What’s your morning routine?

Benefits of daily exercise

One of the outings that we are allowed each day is to take some exercise. Here’s a reminder of why we should be doing this anyway, but particularly now.

– Physical health
– Mental health from exercise and being outside
– Endorphins; a legal high– Looking better will increase your confidence
– Good core body strength allows you to walk, talk and look more confident
– Helps reduce high blood pressure
– Gives you a change of scene
– Clears your mind to focus on work better
– Stretches the body after being hunched over a desk or slouched on the couch for far too long

Self-care special

As the business owner you are expected to look after everybody else from clients to staff and even fill in and unblock the drains if required. But who looks after you? As a nursing mother I remember being told to look after myself or I wouldn’t be able to look after my baby. Sometimes what feels selfish isn’t selfish so here are a few ideas for looking after number one.

  1. Make sure that you’re eating properly. Even when busy try to stick to healthy snacks. Working from home I try to make sure that I plan my lunch in the morning so that I have no excuse to drift down to the fish and chip shop.
  2. Get a good night’s sleep. I don’t know about you but I can’t function without sleep. Driving when tired can be as dangerous as driving after a few drinks.
  3. Get some fresh air each day and whatever passes for sunshine. There’s vitamin D to be had as well as just feeling good. Even if it’s just a walk around the block in your wellies (rubber boots for any non-Brits reading) and waterproofs.
  4. Have a hobby and make time for it. These should bring you peace and joy or just a distraction. I have a season ticket for Bristol City which isn’t always joyous but certainly stops me thinking about work when I have to focus on willing the ball into the opposition’s net.
  5. Build in rest days. Especially if you’re an introvert who needs to recover from the energy expended in social interactions. I try to book a day off after any conference although it’s easier said than done.
  6. Don’t take yourself too seriously. People are probably not looking at you as much as you think they are.
  7. Forgive yourself your mistakes. Yes, spend time putting it right and working out how to prevent it happening again but, after that, put it back into its box.
  8. Learn from your mistakes. If we’re going to make them we may as well get some benefit.
  9. Forgive others. Why wouldn’t you?
  10. Take risks and don’t fear failure. See points 6-8.
  11. There is a season for all things. It is ok to move on when things are no longer working for you.
  12. Value people above things. Easy for somebody who moved house every 6 months and so has minimal possessions but do focus on the people in your life.
  13. Help others but don’t be a doormat. It is ok to say “no”.
  14. Celebrate your successes. It will help you to remember them in moments of self-doubt. I keep a list of all my successes for when I feel that wave of Imposter Syndrome.
  15. Don’t worry what people think about you. As long as your conscience is clear you don’t necessarily have to justify your words or actions.
  16. Be yourself. If you’re young you may still be figuring this one out but don’t worry, that’s normal.
  17. Learn how to argue properly. Listen as well as speak and be prepared to change your mind.
  18. Surround yourself with good people who will encourage you to be your best self.
  19. Surround yourself with good people but understand that they probably have weaknesses too, you just can’t see them
  20. Feel free to break these rules. Just because people put me on a stage doesn’t mean that I’m always right!