Managing stress

Becoming recognized as an expert

While looking after her two small children, Lillian Bridges knew she wanted to finish writing her book.

“I took a class at UCLA on how to write a non-fiction book."

"The teacher said, make yourself an expert in the eyes of the publisher. I said, I don't feel like an expert.”

“He said, well how long have you done faces? I said, well since I was five. He just burst out laughing and said, okay Lillian, if you're not an expert nobody is - go teach a class. I said, what?”

Do you have appointments on Saturdays?

Oh, if I only had a penny for every new client who asks if I do weekends. Or appointments before 8am. Or after 8pm.

I’ve pretty much always drawn the line at working weekends, and I’ve just never been any kind of morning person, but when I started my practice, I used to work till 10pm.

I would go home every day shattered.

I’ve noticed that I find each hour of working after 7pm about twice as exhausting as each hour before.

Five steps to delegation

Having too much to do seems to be a permanent feature of working for yourself.

Oops, hang on a tick while I just answer the phone, send three emails and find a cure for cancer. OK, now where was I?

Oh yes. If you’re way too busy, but you’re lucky enough to have a helper, here are five steps to delegation, and giving yourself space to think.

Overcoming fear, to start your own business

I don't know about you, but fear is something that crops up plenty for me, in this small biz life.

Fear's good, of course. There's nothing wrong with fear.

It's there to stop you poking sabre-tooth tigers with a stick for recreational purposes. And to stop you stepping out in front of double-decker buses without looking where you're going.

But some of the time it can be irrational and disabling. Here's a nice article on taking practical steps to tackle fear when it's holding you back:

Five warning signs that you're working too hard

Hmm, there's always a risk of getting tired and sucked into unproductive work. Working so hard you lose all clarity and your capacity to focus on the right stuff, do it well, and do it without wasting time.

It might be worth looking through these warning signs:

1. Unclear goals: When you work, do you know why you are working? What are the goals you are working towards?

Enough already, with the bad news about the economy

The economy is bad. It’s incontrovertible. But that doesn’t mean that each and every one of us is having a nightmare with our business, surely?

That every small business person is on their last financial legs, pawning their underpants to buy their very last cup of coffee?

“We’re doooomed” – the Dad’s Army of media commentators

I am utterly fed up with the way the current economic climate is being reported by the media.

Running a small business means somehow trying to be good at EVERYTHING

I'm managing director of my business. Marketing manager too. I hold full responsibility for service delivery and operations. I'm in charge of IT strategy and accounts receivable. I'm the web designer, procurement clerk, compliance officer, sales team, book-keeper, accountant, training co-ordinator, chief cook, and definitely bottle washer.

And I find that I do some of these jobs better than others.

Jack of all trades, but master of only some of them.

Sundays at the beach

Being able to work whenever I like is part of the joy of being self employed. But it can be that work starts to creep in everywhere.

For a while I ended up with no separation between work and home, or work and leisure. Since there’s always so SO much to do, I felt like there was no respite and no rest and nothing but an endless sea of work and To Do lists.

Struggling, and starting to drown in the sea of work, I talked it through with the lovely Marie, in my monthly life coaching phone call.

Get calm in one minute

When it all gets too much, first make sure you’re sitting comfortably.

Close your eyes and put your hands on your lap. Breathe in and out gently through your nose.

1. Take a deep breath in, and as you do, relax the top of your head, your face, your mouth, your eyelids, your jaw, the back of your neck, and anything else which might be tense in your head. Breathe out and feel your head relax even more.

Monkey management

Once upon a time, in a decade that seems far far away, I had a job. Like, with a boss, and everything. And during those years I went on an awful lot of training courses.

From all those courses the thing that I remember most distinctly is the 15 minutes where they explained the concept of monkey management.

The idea is that our working lives are filled with monkeys, which are tasks and problems that need sorting out.

Taking holidays is hard to do

Taking time out from running your own business is such a challenge.

"Three fifths of small business employees will work over Christmas, and even those ‘on holiday’ will be in regular contact with work, research finds."

"More than a quarter (27 per cent) of small business workers report that working on holiday has caused ‘serious upset’ for family, friends or partners in the past..."

Working funny hours

I did some voluntary work for a while recently, and I found myself feeling self-conscious each time I hit ‘send’ on emails at two in the morning.

I got emails back asking if my workload was out of control. And it was a bit, but it was more that (unfortunately) I sometimes feel wide awake and have a spurt of productivity at the end of the day.

Working for myself, I’ve got into the habit of fitting work in where it suits, rather than according to the conventional Monday to Friday and nine to five.

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