For many reasons, owning a business is a complicated mental task, full of paradoxes. You’re your own boss, but don’t have the safety net of a large corporation. You’re at the same time master of your destiny but at the mercy of fortune.

That mental rollercoaster can often scupper your motivation. It can at times mute your enthusiasm and wear down your hard-won self-confidence. We talk to business owners all day, every day about the many issues they face. So, for no other reason than it’s a Monday, we’ve written five life hacks you can do today to get your mind fit and well for business and stay productive, motivated and happy. Some of these you might already be well aware of and we would always welcome your feedback and ideas in the comments below.

 

1. Know Your True Goals & Write Them Down

We don’t mean your sales target or orders to ship, but, ‘why do you really do what you do (often 60 hours a week)’? For your family? Your future? Holidays? Lifestyle? Food on the table? Maybe your business helps the less fortunate or allows people to solve a problem?

Whatever it is, knowing (and writing down) your REAL goals can be a very useful thing to focus on when times are tough. Keep them close by and read them often.

 

2. Get HYPER Organised

A sign that you’re unorganised is that you don’t know how much you have to do or when you’re going to do it. That means when the unexpected happens, you can’t effectively respond. It can become a bit of a nightmare as tasks add up. We’ve all been there.

The Harvard Business School worked out that people who spend 10% of their time planning, recoup 5 times that amount back in productivity.

So, if you spend 30 minutes every day, planning your tasks, in theory, you make the equivalent of 2.5 hours back in productivity.

These figures might not work 100% perfectly in practice, but the theory is a good one.

By planning, we mean two really simple things: Listing your tasks and slotting them into a time when you can do them.
Getting a very clear task list can be done with a pen and paper, or you could use an app like ‘TodoList’ or ‘goBrief’ (there are many free ones available).

A key tip is to update your list as soon as a new task arrives, don’t delay. Like if you take a call that leads to a new task, get it on your list so you don’t forget. If you don’t you will end up with ‘floating tasks’ that don’t have a planned timeslot. That means you’re more likely to become too reactive, and less effective. Plus if you have 3 or 4 calls or emails each day, all with new tasks, that’s 20 things up in the air, on top of the things you know about.

Secondly, estimate the times for each task and plan when you are going to do them.  For this, you can just use your diary, or there are a number of apps available like ‘Monday.com’ or ‘Trello’. If you manage a team, you can get premium versions of apps that let you coordinate this better.

Getting those two things right and keeping them up to date will give you a very clear and realistic picture of what you need to do and when.

 

3. Every Hour Counts

If you work alone, or you’re your own boss. It’s easy to get distracted. Errands, family commitments, sunbathing?! Okay not so much in the UK.

Where the lines between home and work are less well-drawn, hours and days go by with shocking speed. Like an express train flying through a station, if you don’t grab on and stay on, you can lose a lot of time that’s hard to recover. That’s why when you work for yourself every hour counts. The more you tell yourself this, the better you will focus. The more you focus, the faster you will finish your work, the sooner you can focus on the things above in point 2 – your life.

So get a post-it-note and write in bold ‘Every Hour Counts’. Refer to it often.

 

4. Practice Mental Resilience

‘The lows are really low, but the highs are really high’. People who run their own business know this fact well. It’s easy to feel strong during the highs, but practicing coping with the discomfort of the lows can be a good thing. This includes replacing negative thoughts with positive ones,  accepting mistakes and reflecting on your progress each day. The Start-Up business blog ‘Start-up Donut’ wrote an article in 2017 that expands on this further.

 

5. Be Kind to Yourself

Not everyone could do what you do. Run your own business, no holiday pay, no safety net, no guaranteed salary. Many businesses, unfortunately, fail in their first year, but if you’re reading this, chances are you’re still going. So say well done to yourself just for that fact. Say well done to yourself just for getting to the end of this article, you obviously have a mindset that wants to keep improving. Say well done to yourself just for been in work today, you’re up, out of bed, doing!

Other ways to be kind to yourself that will keep you productive and focus are a good diet, exercise and keeping hydrated during the day. In 2016 LiveStrong published a useful article about the relationship between exercise and productivity.

We hope these hacks and ideas are useful.

Have a good day.