Let’s Make 2021 Better
This year, there is a definite move to abandon New Year’s resolutions in favour of New Year’s intentions. The idea is that resolutions are far too difficult to maintain and – given the stresses of the extraordinary year that has just ended – we should be kinder to ourselves and focus on general intentions rather than specific goals. So, what are your intentions for your business in the coming year? We have three suggestions:
Remain open to change; innovation may make the difference between survival and failure.
Many small businesses have had to turn on a dime in the past year and come up with innovative ways to change their business model and adapt to conducting business in a pandemic. Despite this, many will still suffer grievous losses as global lockdowns disproportionately affect small, local businesses. Many of these businesses are endeavouring to keep the wolf from the door by switching to online sales with curbside pickup or delivery; as customers, we can only support our local businesses and help them out as best we can.
Being open to change and able and willing to adapt – rapidly – to changing circumstances will, hopefully, be a lifeline for many; just be sure it doesn’t come at an unacceptable cost to your well-being.
This might become the keyword for 2021. As a business owner, you’re already under incredible stress – something will have to go. Each person will have their own priorities, and only you can decide yours, but a few things to consider…
- Stop multitasking
Some people pride themselves on their ability to multitask; I humbly suggest that multitasking means doing many things not particularly well when you could, instead, do one thing brilliantly. If you’re totting up the accounts while talking business on the phone, you’re neither focusing on the business call, nor ensuring that your accounts are error free. If you’re ‘helping’ your child with homework while working on a project, your child knows full well that they don’t have your attention, and it’s unlikely your project will be one of your best, either. If you’re trying to write a report while cooking dinner, likely dinner will be sub-par at best and your report will almost definitely need redoing.
Focus on one job, and one job only – and do that to the best of your ability. Turn off your phone – put a “temporarily out of office” note on your email and focus on your yoga practice, your child’s school project, or the report you’re writing – one at a time! It’s your choice as to which is more important.
- Delegate or outsource where you can
If your business is not a sole enterprise, delegate as much as possible to partners and employees. If you’re the sole proprietor, then postpone all non-urgent tasks and focus on the essentials. If you have a physical store that is still open to the public, consider closing earlier than normal, or even one or more full days a week. It’s likely not going to affect your bottom line that much to reduce your hours, and will give you and your staff a much-needed break.
If you’re married, or in a partnership, delegate a fair share of child supervision and meal prep to your partner. Older children can learn to do their own laundry and load (and unload) the dishwasher. Get all family members to help with a general clean-up at the end of each day.
If you can afford it, outsource…
Pay a cleaner to clean your house so you don’t have to even include that task on your to-do list; order takeout a couple of times a week so you’re not worrying about shopping for, prepping, and cooking dinner.
- Try not to confuse ‘urgent’ with ‘important’
A final thought on prioritizing, this one was brought to my attention some years ago by my employer at the time. He was totally correct, though, admittedly, it’s something I still struggle with. The ‘urgent’ demands and focuses our attention so much more than the ‘important’. A classic example would be a work project that has a strict deadline versus a friend or family member that is sick/depressed/lonely and in need of your friendship and support right now, or a child needing a story and a hug. Which should come top of your to-do list?
It’s also worth questioning just why jobs become ‘urgent’ in the first place. Assuming we’ve known the deadline for a while, why are we in a last-minute rush – do we just need better planning? It’s arguable that only first responders: ER personnel, firefighters, police officers, paramedics, etc., are justifiably dealing with ‘urgent’ matters; the rest of us are mainly buying into the urgency mindset. If it helps, ask yourself what is the worst-case scenario if the ‘urgent’ doesn’t get immediately attended to? Unless your kitchen is on fire, or a winter storm is howling through a broken window, the likely answer is “actually nothing that terrible!”
3. Take care of your physical and mental well-being
It should go without saying that if your health suffers, you won’t be able to do justice to your business anyway. Then there’s the fact that we’re still – for at least several more months – in the throes of a pandemic. Physical and mental well-being are essential. When prioritizing, make a definite time commitment for exercise and relaxation. Make it an actual appointment in your diary – as important as a medical appointment – and set the time aside religiously. Ideally, at least half an hour a day for physical exercise. Relaxation during the day is vital; the more stressful and busy your day, the more vital it becomes. What is your preferred way to relax: a walk outside, a yoga practice, reading a novel, listening to music, taking a long shower or bath, playing a game with your family? Whatever your preferred activity, it should be enjoyable, mentally refreshing, and free from any work-related intrusions.
Have your 2021 intention be connected with making the recovery, when it finally comes, better – not a return to ‘normal’. This hiatus from the ‘norm’ is the perfect opportunity to consider what’s working for us – and what isn’t.