A “workout” regimen for small business owners

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on November 05, 2009 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Time Management Strategies


Exercise is something we all know we need but we often avoid or overlook until it’s too late. Our muscles aren’t just physical, though. We have mental “muscles” that need working out, too.

Recently, I read a great article Forbes by Dr. Douglas McKenna about this very thing. McKenna used to work for Microsoft and now runs his own coaching firm called Oceanside Institute. Thus, he brings a great balance of big business and small business sensibility to this concept.

You can read the full article, called “Exercise Your Self Control Muscle”,  but I will summarize it here for you.

McKenna says that self control is like a muscle and he gives a few tips to exercising this muscle for business owners. Self control, he says, is crucial for professional well-being. At first I thought he was just talking about things like avoiding Facebook until the workday is done or not responding in anger to an email, but he has far greater and more applicable advice than that. Self control, he says, has to do with our total control of self and what we make of each moment of the day.

1.    His first tip is “plan your time with depletion in mind”. In real exercise, you can do a lot more earlier in the workout but you get tired as you go and can’t do as much towards the end. It’s the same with self control. You need to give yourself a bit of a break and expect to have less self control towards the end of the day than you do at the beginning. I think this is a great tip and applicable to far more than just self control, but also to all kinds of productivity: Expect to do less later in the day than you do earlier in the day.

2.    His second tip is to standardize recurring tasks. Once again, this a great tip beyond self control and is a valuable productivity-enhancing tip. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of my readers that I embrace this idea whole-heartedly! Ultimately, you should do less so you can do more. (Yeah, it’s a paradox).

3.    Rest and refuel. Great advice to every small business owner who works 24/7 because they thing they have to. There may be periods of time when you do need to work 24/7 but try to keep those to a minimum and focus on giving a solid 8 hours of quality work and taking time for yourself. You’ll recharge just being around family and friends (and sleeping, of course) and that will make a huge difference. This is another paradox: You’ll get more done in 8 hours after some rest than you would get done by pushing yourself through 12 hours of work.

4.    Regular “workout” of this muscle is the key to making sure that you stay in control of your day… AND in control of your business. Like any other kind of exercise, you’ll gain the most benefits when you intentionally spend time working out every day.

Small business owners: Read the article, work out your self control muscle every day and take control of yourself (and your business).

Happy Blogging!

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