How to budget—beyond your budget

They say, “work smarter, not harder.” But smart work can be hard, too! In the end, you’ll have to do both if you want your business to beat the odds and make it more than a decade.

Most business owners are in it to win it. They plan to stick around for the long haul. That means it’s not a race; it’s a marathon. As such, it’s critical to pace yourself and avoid burnout.

Sure, one day, maybe you’ll step away from the day-to-day operations and kick up your feet a bit—but until then, you’ve got to plan for some routine, rejuvenating rest and relaxation. Even if it is only micro-R&R throughout the day, trust us, it’ll help you stay focused instead of frazzled!

So, what should you be doing, and how often should you do it? Let’s solve that equation by breaking things down!

1. Prioritizing self-care in your schedule

To solve any problem, you’ve got to clearly define it.

Here, the problem is simple. You don’t want to burn out because you need to stay energized and enthusiastic while running your business.

Sorry, that doesn’t mean dashing off to the Dominican Republic every month for a vacation. It does, however, mean putting daily self-care near the top of your “to-do” list.

Tips for time management and delegation

Every boss has their own style, and some are more efficient than others. We suggest doing an objective review of how you spend your time at work each day.

If you’re the “Michael Scott from The Office” type who loves to focus on employee morale…that’s nice, but don’t let socializing cut into productivity. Otherwise, you and your team won’t get the work done before quittin’ time!

If you’re a super hands-on type and have trouble delegating—you’ve got to reverse that trend by hiring and training people you can trust to do the job

Setting boundaries and saying no to non-essential tasks

Does your staff have a habit of coming to you for everything? If so, it’s on you to change that habit. Part of delegating means assigning certain mid-level managerial tasks to an assistant or frontline supervisor.

In some cases, it may also mean giving workers the freedom to make more decisions at their level. When given additional responsibility or authority, most employees will rise to the challenge.

Incorporating self-care activities into your daily routine

Whatever you spend the bulk of your day doing, you’ve got to work in daily breaks away from those tasks.

For instance, if you sit behind a computer screen for hours on end, get up and take short walks outside…without your phone!

When possible, have lunch away outside of the work environment. Go somewhere close but where you can unwind and decompress. Don’t spend your lunch hour talking (or complaining) about work-related issues, though.

2. Creating a self-care plan

Make a list of activities that’ll help you maintain mental and physical wellness. Commit to incorporating them into your daily routine, both while at work and after.

…pause, as we wait for you to mentally commit…

Okay, great! You’ve made the decision to take care of yourself! Now let’s make an actual self-care plan, one with some variety sprinkled into the schedule to keep things from interesting.

Identifying the self-care activities that work for you

Your self-care plan should include small things that you enjoy and can do while at work, such as nature breaks, stretching, or listening to calming music. There’s no “right answer” to what works for you. The important thing is to just find those things and do them consistently.

You’ll also need things to do after work hours. This can include longer activities like going on a hike, getting out on the lake for some fishing…or settling into your favorite recliner with a good book and a cup of tea. Whatever works for you, just make time to do it!

Scheduling self-care into your calendar

Maybe it seems crazy, but we suggest adding your self-care activities to your calendar or planner. After all, you add things like appointments and meetings. Why not schedule time for yourself, so you don’t forget (or come up with excuses)? 

Tracking your progress and making adjustments as necessary

What gets tracked, gets done.

It’s easy to say, “I’m going to take care of myself and make improvements.” But if you’re not scheduling times to do that—and you’re not tracking your progress—it’s even easier to let things slip. If it helps, use an app to help you monitor your progress on any specific goals!

3. Measuring the impact of self-care on your business and personal life

Speaking of tracking, let’s talk about measurable impacts.

When we exercise, many of us keep track of how fast we ran or how much weight we lifted. That way, we have a standard to compare future performance against. Are we getting faster…or slower? Are we lifting heavier…or lighter?

The same principle applies to self-care tracking. For example, using even just a journal, we can keep track of how much happier we feel and how that translates to boosted productivity or higher-quality work output.

Tracking the benefits of self-care on productivity and creativity

When we practice self-care on a regular basis, we will—over time—realize tangible differences. But they may be so gradual that we don’t notice…unless we first establish a baseline and then keep tabs on how we’re changing.

You can even look for ways to tie this directly into quantifiable business objectives. For instance, say you’re directly involved in sales. Take note of your current sales figures. Then, after one month of routine self-care activities, look again. Any difference? If the needle didn’t move much, try it for another month. In time, you should see a measurable difference. If you don’t, try changing up your self-care routine!

Assessing the impact on your mental and physical health

How about tracking impacts on your mental and physical health? That’s easy, too! Again, a journal is the fastest way to monitor progress when it comes to happiness or general mood.

As far as physical health, you can also write down your energy levels (on a scale from 1 – 10), or track your blood pressure with an inexpensive BP monitor. Tracking things such as cholesterol requires a blood test, but you can keep tabs whenever you go to your doctor for annual wellness checks.

If you incorporate fitness activities into your self-care regime, it’s relatively simple to track improved moods, better sleep, or other positive changes!

Celebrating the successes and making adjustments as necessary

Self-care is an end goal unto itself. But as an added bonus, sometimes it’s fun to celebrate the achievement of specific wellness milestones. Treating yourself is a great way to stay motivated and give yourself even more to look forward to!

If you fall a bit shy of meeting a goal, just remember, it’s a marathon, not a race. Figure out what you can do better. Make changes and monitor yourself to see if the changes are effective. If not, keep trying until you find the right mix of activities. Stay flexible and carry on!

Take care of yourself—take care of your customers.

Adding self-care to your routine will vastly boost your odds of getting your business where you want it to go. It’s as vital to your success as any element of your business plan.

In time, you’ll be able to set your business up so it can manage effectively without your constant presence and attention. This will allow you to extend your self-care activities to include more time off, more vacations, and more…well, whatever you want to do!