A shiny fresh new year is once again upon us. There is something magical about this time of year. Be it the sunshine, the memories of long lazy summer holidays or the potential of the year ahead, January is indeed a month of buzzing energy. And it’s the perfect time to capitalise on all the positive energy and exciting potential that’s floating around and think about what the new year looks like for your business. Not resolutions necessarily (because it’s estimated that less than 10% of New Year’s resolutions are achieved according to the University of Scranton Psychology Professor John C. Norcross, PhD), but ways in which you can make a positive change to the way you run your business.
Plan to work LESS. Yes LESS
Since you took sciences’ advice and enjoyed a holiday over the Christmas New Year period, you’re about to step back into work renewed, recharged and invigorated. One of the critical habits you should plan into your new work year is to work less. Or to be more accurate, plan to work fewer hours. Studies show that working long hours over extended periods reduces productivity and increases mistakes. And history backs us up on this as Sarah Green Carmichael of the Harvard Business Review wrote:
“In the 19th century, when organised labour first compelled factory owners to limit workdays to 10 (and then eight) hours, management was surprised to discover that output actually increased – and that expensive mistakes and accidents decreased. This is an experiment that Harvard Business School’s Leslie Perlow and Jessica Porter repeated over a century later with knowledge workers. It still held true. Predictable, required time off (like nights and weekends) actually made teams of consultants more productive.”
So how do you go about working fewer hours? Whether it’s creating a new habit of leaving work at 5 pm, or not looking at your laptop after dinner, or whether it’s changing your workday routine to incorporate regular breaks (as suggested in the Pomodoro method), changing your mentality and allowing yourself breaks and downtime will result in higher productivity, increased decision-making capabilities and a less-burnt out you.
One of the weak points in creating new habits is the lack of accountability. Keeping your self accountable to your new practices or new goals is really hard on your own. The good news is, there are several ways you can hold yourself accountable to your new year goals, dependant on how you work. If you’re already a self-starter, and you just need a little bit more of a push to be consistent with actioning your goals, then there are a myriad of reflection and goal setting journals available to help you along the way. Seeing your goals written down and reflecting on the steps you need to take to accomplish them is a proven method of accountability.
But if you need a bit more of a push, then perhaps a business coach or mentor is the answer. First Class Accounts Franchisee of the Year, Renae Pitargue told MYOB earlier this year
“When I had my first session with my mentor, it was like flicking a switch. I was able to figure out exactly what I wanted for the business and figure out how to get there.
In no time at all, the business started to grow. It was quite extraordinary – almost like the power of positive thinking. Having a business mentor has given me focus and accountability. It forces you to have a plan and understand your business – not to assume anything.”
So whether you choose the motivation and accountability of an external business coach or mentor, or take time for daily reflections and actionable check-ins, as long as you make yourself accountable – there will be no stopping you this year!
Plan your next holiday
As we mentioned in this article, you need a break to be a better business owner/boss/ partner/ parent/friend. Time to rest & recharge is good for your brain, your health, and your lifestyle. So while you’re feeling fresh, plan the upcoming year and make sure you schedule in numerous breaks to keep you refreshed and recharged and prepared to meet the busy seasons with vigour. Taking time off is easier if you are prepared, you can coordinate your workload, organise your clients and get some good deals by booking in advance!
Plan your bedtime
There are an overwhelming amount of studies that prove how vital sleep is for humans to function. Yet we still torture ourselves and deny our bodies the required amount of sleep. Even if you enjoy having an overburdened workload and burning the midnight oil, studies show you are more likely to make mistakes when you are tired – so all that extra work, is probably not great quality. And when you’re in an industry that relies on accuracy, precision and attention to detail like bookkeeping, that’s not a good thing. The solution? Getting to bed at a reasonable hour, taking a 10-minute nap during the day (surely a benefit of being your own boss!) or getting outside more to increase your powers of concentration.
While these new years goals, might not be your typical ‘how to prepare for the year ahead’ list, they are important steps towards creating a life that is balanced, allows your brain time to rest so it can perform at a higher function and therefore achieve your business goals. Small business ownership can be all-consuming, make 2019 a time to take regular steps back, gain perspective and smash your goals – without sacrificing yourself.