Being a small business owner comes with some pretty big responsibilities — not to mention big stress. As most busy professionals know, working to achieve goals can get you mentally sweating. This stress can have short-term and long-term physical consequences, such as weight gain, heart disease, and headaches. So it’s important to make sure you’re taking action professionally and personally to reduce or eliminate it at its source.
Here are three quick and easy ways small business owners and fast-paced professionals can get organized and keep their stress at bay.
1. Make and Maintain a Budget
Few things give us more headaches than money. What good is watching your small business succeed if you are too stressed about finances to enjoy it?
Getting your finances in order is not a one-time project — it’s an ongoing process for busy professionals and small business owners. But it’s actually a relatively simple concept. When your financial situation is set, you’ll not only reduce your worry now, but set yourself up for less stress in the future.
Whether you want to prepare for covering payroll costs during a low sales season or you want to get your personal credit in better shape for future business plans, the first place to start is your budget. You need to analyze what cash you have coming in so you can plan and prepare the cash you can expect to go out. Not only will this help you anticipate business expenses, but it will also help you analyze whether you have enough capital to achieve your short-term business goals (or if it makes sense to look into a small business loan).
There are a lot of benefits to taking out a loan — having the budget to hire additional team members, purchase inventory or upgrade equipment, for example — but you won’t know if this is the right move for your business without figuring out your budget first.
A budget should also help you achieve your annual goals. Think about what you would like to accomplish this year: lower your overhead, earn a business or leadership certification, pay off debt and repair your credit, or sign twice as many new clients as last year. Whatever you choose, a budget is your roadmap to success without stress.
2. Blow Off Steam in Healthy Ways
You have to have a healthy outlet for managing work-related stress. It’s easy to pick up a drink or take a smoke break every time the road gets bumpy, but you’ll be in real trouble — professionally and personally — if you start relying on negative coping strategies using drugs or alcohol.
Instead, check out healthy coping mechanisms like exercise, particularly activities you can do whether you’re solo or with others. Golf is a great example: you can zone out on the golf course alone, empty out your mind by focusing on your backswing at the driving range or go out with a buddy and enjoy the afternoon. Basketball is another solo or group activity that can help relieve stress — you can pop into a pick-up game at a local park or shoot a few hoops by yourself in the evening.
If playing a sport isn’t your claim to fame, consider biking or running. Both can be done alone or with a group, and both have been shown to reduce stress, lower your risk of cancer and add years to your life by improving cardiovascular, bone and joint health.
3. Prioritize Your Time
Saying you have a lot to accomplish in a day is an understatement. You're working on short-term goals right now, such as motivating your employees to provide compassionate customer service. But you are also working every day on long-term goals that will set you and your business up for success in the long run.
So, how do you prioritize your daily, weekly and monthly plans? At the end of the day, nothing is more stressful than working on a hundred tasks but accomplishing nothing. Prioritizing helps you create milestones that get you closer to checking important tasks off your list. Start by organizing the tasks of your day into four categories: urgent, important, to-do, and ongoing. Then, complete them in that order. Similarly, you can also prioritize by using the 80/20 rule, where you focus on tasks in the top 20 percent of your activities before the ones in the bottom 80 percent.
Effective stress-reduction skills will help you manage stress before, during and after it occurs. Whether you are working on a budget, prioritizing your time or starting a new relaxing hobby, take the time to ask yourself if it is working for you. After all, the last thing you want is to get stressed out by your stress-relieving efforts.
Gloria Martinez loves sharing her expertise on these two important topics: business and women inspiration. With these as her goals, she created Womenled to inspire women in the workplace.