March 1, 2012

All Work and No Play … is a Lousy Way to Live

By Paul Bieber

You manage or own a business in the worst recession in a couple of generations. You know that no one is going to help you, that you have to do it all yourself. You have people that count on you for their paychecks and benefits. So, you work hard. Then you work harder and longer. Then you stay up worrying about your bank loan. What’s next? A heart attack, a nervous breakdown and a lousy family life.

Let’s change this so that tomorrow morning you wake up healthy and ready to work.

When Mr. Obama was elected President, he met with the prior Presidents, and they urged him to keep some time for family life and some time for personal relaxation. Since his job is just about the most stressful in the world, you should take this advice for your job as well.

If you go to the office acting like you are Grumpy instead of Happy, your co-workers will pick up on this and act just the same.

So, here are things that every glass shop owner and manager should be looking at to help themselves:

•Get a good night’s sleep. This is number one on the list. I keep a pad of paper and a pencil next to my bed. If I start thinking of something in the middle of the night, I write it down, and then forget about it until morning. Train your mind to not think of anything that you have written down on your overnight list. You can do this.

•If you want to think of something, think about an upcoming vacation, or a project you are working on with your kids.

•Open up the list of people that you share confidences with. If you have a problem at work, discuss this with another business owner, or your accountant or lawyer. Often just talking through a problem gives you the answer. Once you tell someone about your problems, they usually become less severe than the scenario you have running around in your head.

•Think of something you love to do, and then do it once-a-week. Whether it is hitting balls at a driving range, seeing a movie, reading a novel about a spy running around in Europe, or whatever…just be sure to do it once a week on a regular schedule. The more physical the better…President Obama’s relaxation point is a game of hoops with friends.

•Have dinner with your kids three or four nights per week. Don’t blow this one…your kids will get older, your business will still have problems of some other kind, and you will miss out on the best part of life.

•Set-up a no-interruption time zone in your calendar…if only for 15 or 30 minutes–this works. Take no calls and open no e-mail. Look at your desk to find one or two details that need your attention, and take care of them without interruption. Whether a call back to a customer, or checking invoices for payment…give yourself the luxury of no interruptions and you will move mountains.

•Write out the proposed agenda for an upcoming vacation. Picture yourself there as you write.

•Create a diversion that actually forces you to take time off; volunteer as a big brother/sister, join the local Rotary or Elks and attend the meetings. Have a standing date with a buddy for a workout at the gym.

•Each week for the next six weeks, take one task that you do, and delegate to someone within your organization. Take the time to teach and train, and you will find you have less on your desk. If you don’t have the staff to do this, then take one task off your desk and drop it from your agenda. Either way, you come out ahead.

•Use email and take fewer phone calls. Tell vendors to email you during the day with answers or updates rather than using the phone.

•Most importantly, you cannot change or wish for a different stock market or banking situation. There is not a darn thing you can do other than go with the flow. The stock market always has come back, it will again.

These are just a few ideas to help you gain some time and balance in your life. Find one or two that work for you and you gain some small part of your sanity and your health. Most of us are losing money during this deep recession…don’t lose your family and your mind.