As small business owners we deal with stress every day.  Making the most out of the resources we have is always a constant challenge. When we get it right – business goes well, profits increase and our contentment levels are high.  So as a business owner or employee what do you need to do to be more productive in stressful times?

1.  Accept that your workload will never be completely under control

Life is busy, work is busy, technology keeps changing, cars keep getting faster this is the world today.  Rather than wish it to be different or try and make it different attempt to accept what is and find a calmer way of being in your work world.  The big challenge is to find calm amongst chaos.

Take control of what you can i.e. tidy your desk, drink nice tea, bring in your favourite mug, and choose to have a good day and positive outcome.

2.  Manage your time

Obviously a limited resource, make sure that you make the most of it.

  • Spend time on things that save you time
  • Focus on the outcome or task rather than the process
  • Plan ahead with a to do list
  • Hit the ground running by knowing exactly what you need to do before you do it.
  • Wake up 10 minutes earlier
  • Don’t spend time worrying about things – spend time taking action on them.
  • Remove distractions
  • Keep momentum going by setting goals “after this I’ll get a cup of tea”
  • Do hard tasks in high energy times.

3. Simplify

  • Be realistic with what you can achieve.  Aim to achieve 5 tasks each day make it 3 if your work includes interruptions e.g. meetings, phone calls, customers etc.
  • Shorten your to do list.  Put 3 items on it not 30 (way too stressful)Write your to do list before you start work (i.e. night before, café over coffee outside the office)
  • Put a time frame on the to do list e.g. to be done before morning tea

4. Make the most of You

  • Look after yourself – eat well, get sleep, exercise, socialise
  • Take the pressure off by simplifying things and taking action rather than thinking
  • Engage with things that bring you pleasure
  • Manage your energy – do more of what gives you energy, do less of what zaps your energy
  • Know what things put you in a good mood – e.g. music, plants, clean desk, good coffee, nice coffee mug
  • Understand what’s in your control and what’s not
  • Congratulate yourself on coping with a stressful situation
  • Look for wins and celebrate them– “yey a day with the computers working!”

5. Handle Customer Pressure

Have a pleasant tone and demeanour always

  • Try to always have a positive attitude when dealing with customers.  Be can do and always pleasant.
  • If you’re stressed it will rub off on your customers which may turn a great customer into a difficult customer.
  • If you are in a grumpy mood try and avoid dealing with customers or do something to snap you out of your mood e.g. walk around the block,  watch a funny video, take five deep breaths, practice smiling or fake it until your mood changes.

Under promise and over deliver

  • Most customer complaints come from expectations not being met e.g. you said you would contact me…..Make realistic and generous timelines for yourself so that you can achieve them.If you think it’s going to take 5 days to do something then tell the customer it will take 8 days and then when you deliver on 5 they will be delighted. There is nothing more divine that a customer who is delighted

Communicate

  • Customers hate being ignored or brushed aside.  Be proactive in your communication with customers. Keep them in the loop with what’s going on.  If you are following something up for them – check in regularly to let them know the progress of their enquiry.  If you ring them before they ring you they will gain trust in your ability to deal with their enquiry.
  • Do what you say you are going to do and that in itself (because it happens so rarely) usually delights customers

Please share what has worked for you in improving efficiency and de-stressing.