Most people are under pressure and find themselves in stressful work environments. According to an Ipsos and Reuters study cited by HR Pulse, South Africans are completely overworked and under-rested, workaholics basically. We rate second after Japan when it comes to not taking sufficient time to recuperate; 53% of South Africans don’t take their annual leave. Working as a consultant and being your own boss multiplies the amount of stress. There is no delegation of tasks to give you some free time to relax – you are always on the clock to bring in the bacon. Stress and fatigue can have serious consequences for your heath, both physically and mentally. In order for your small business to run – and keep on running – you need remain focussed. Stress managementshould be just as important as all your other business operations and here are a few pointers to help you achieve that:
1. First of all, assess your stress levels and be aware of that fact that you are overworked.
Stress management begins with you realising that you are stressed and that it is having an effect on your professional and personal life. Chances are great that you are in fact, overworked, as gaining and retaining clients and servicing them doesn’t just magically happen. Take some time to evaluate how much time you spend thinking about clients, the work you do for them and dealing with other aspects of your business like finances. Inc. has compiled a list of four easy steps to check whether you are taking enough time for yourself or whether you are quickly approaching a total burnout – rendering you useless to your clients. Not surprisingly, your health is the biggest giveaway that you are strung out. Once you are aware and accept that you are not getting enough me-time, you can start with a stress management plan.
2. Better organisation and smarter systems can help you get back valuable time.
Dealing with tedious admin tasks is the biggest time suck. Unfortunately, paperwork is incredibly important and whether you like it or not, there’s no escaping it. You can try to run and hide, but at some point you’ll find yourself huddled up behind a desk at 2am sifting through documents. The efficiency of a proper filing system can’t be emphasised enough. The better you organise what goes where, the easier it is to find documents and store them. Completing forms immediately after you receive them means you don’t have to set aside personal time to deal with the matter – or even worse – stress about unfinished tasks in the middle of the night.
3. Take better care of yourself – both physically and mentally.
Now that you have realised that you are overworked and need more time to yourself, it’s time to implement a personal stress management plan. While your work might bring you an immense amount of fulfilment – it should not consume your life. You have family, friends and other activities that bring you joy. Socialising and having conversations (preferably, not about work) with loved ones and friends gives your mind a break. So too does reading a book, watching a movie or listening to music. The mind and body are interconnected, so simply supplementing your brain with some relaxation is not enough to distress. Exercise, as much as you might not have time or energy for it, it the best method of unwinding. Those trainers might intimidate you the first few times before you hit the gym or go for a run, but the reward from adrenaline and pumping muscles will soon become a healthy stress-busting addiction.
4. The better you manage your time the more time you will have to focus on recuperation.
Ever wish there were more hours in a day? As ridiculous as it might sound – there are instances throughout your day where you are wasting time. By pinpointing every single thing you work on you can highlight what your time-wasters are and often, they tend to be the simplest things. Create a work diary and write down exactly what is that you do with your time, even if it’s just for one day. You’d be surprised how you can get back at least half an hour by simply arranging meetings at certain times to avoid traffic, setting aside designated email response times or just setting clear deadlines to ensure you never fall behind.
5. Technology is improving almost everything we do – use this to your advantage.
There is no shortage of applications when it comes to business, and believe it or not, there’s even a list of apps to help with stress management. You can improve communication, project management and simply get rid of tedious and redundant tasks by letting the machine do the work for you. Smart online accounting can also save you an enormous amount of time dealing with financial matters, another dreaded time consumer. By automating your quoting and invoicing system you have more time to focus on servicing you clients. Also, online accounting ensures your basic financial statements are ready for the account – one less thing you have to worry about. At SMEasy, we want to ensure that your quotes and invoices are always accurate and accessible. Try our free invoice assessment and let us evaluate your current invoice template. We will give you feedback on how you can improve your invoices and reduce even more of your work-related stress.