Friday, February 29, 2008

On Taking TimeOut From Work

From bTW, my Paper, 29 Feb 2008 edition

By Anisa Hassan

 

Learning how to say ‘no’

 

Too often, small business owners – particularly women entrepreneurs –

think their enterprise won’t progress to the next level unless they’re

always around to steer the wheel. As a result, they don’t build in

any alternatives for taking time away from work. This is especially true

when everything is running smoothly. Monthly end reports –

spectacular though the results may be – still need to be reconciled,

quick decisions have to be made and no time is to be wasted

on savouring the moment of success. The only pondering to be done

would be to find an answer to that perennial question,

“What next is there for me to do?”

 

But without time to recharge, both business and owner could

potentially suffer in the long term. Taking on more than what

we can manage is a recipe for ongoing stress and burnout. This,

in turn, could lead to loss of stamina and business tunnel vision.

Remember, it’s not about how fast you grow, but how big

and how long you stick around to leave a legacy.

 

I’ve learnt the hard way myself that the best lesson for me as an

entrepreneur is, perhaps ironically, learning how to say “No”

to some of the demands of my work. If you’re prepared for

a change and a systematic overhaul, here are four tips

to allow you to love relaxation as much as you love your work:

 

1. Say ‘No’.

Management author Dan Coughlin said: “When my plate is full,

I’m not effective.” You give yourself the illusion there’s so much

to do within 24 hours. Learning to say ‘No’ to less important tasks

frees you up to do more strategic thinking on how best to grow

your business.

 

2. Create a solid system.

Think ahead and start building support structures and networks

before you even actually need one putting yourself at the top

of your priority list may not seem selfish after all.

 

3. Take mini breaks.

Business owners on the fast track lose sight of time very quickly.

Carve out a one-hour break daily to hit the gym or have

an uninterrupted “me” time. Dedicate that hour to yourself

just to clear the clutter in your mind.

 

4. Ask for help.

You are so used to doing so many things for so many people. It is time

for you to reach out to your staff, partners, business associates

and family members who have become accustomed to you

running the show.

 

For once, stop. Ask for support. For example, when my staff offer

to help me get lunch, I welcome the kind gesture and let them

surprise me (pleasurably!) with whichever dish they choose.

 

After all, what I have for lunch every day is definitely something

I don’t want to micro-manage.

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