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Productivity / Performance

Are you a business amateur or pro? Here’s how you know

What do pro athletes prioritise that amateur athletes don’t? And how can that thing make your business more professional and profitable? Read on to find out.

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When I was a triathlete, one of my favourite things about the sport was that age-group (amateur) athletes were able to train alongside the professionals. Imagine being a basketballer who’s able to train with LeBron James every day? That’s reality for those competing in triathlon.

The upside of this for many amateurs? It allows them to become almost as good as the pros.

What’s holding them back from being as good as the pros?

Recovery.

During the week, after an early morning swim or ride, amateur triathletes will fly into the shower, scarf down some breakfast, and head off to work. Pro triathletes head home and have physical and mental down time before the next session.

For most pro triathletes, ‘recovery’, (in the form of naps, massages and simply putting their feet up) is a session in itself; one that’s as important as those where they swim, bike and run.

"When scheduling out my week and making promises to clients, I pretend I work a four-day week "

So, how can you make your business more professional in one easy step?

Incorporate more recovery time into your days and weeks of course.

Here are three ways to do this:

1. Give sleep a higher priority

Way too many of us prioritise answering ‘one more email’, reading ‘one more chapter’ or watching ‘just one more episode of Suits’ over sleep.

Yet, there is no ambiguity in the research, even mild sleep deprivation, (getting 30-60 minutes less sleep a night than we need) leads to:

  • Cognitive impairment (our brains don’t work as well)
  • Emotional instability (we’re not able to deal with life’s challenges as well)
  • Reduced productivity (we find it hard to focus)

And it becomes a cycle that feeds itself: the less productive and emotionally resilient we are, the less work we’re able to get through in a day, the more we sacrifice sleep to ‘catch up’.

Given this, it becomes easy to see that simply shifting our thinking on sleep from regarding it as the first thing we sacrifice when things get busy to the first thing we prioritise can yield significant returns with regard to how professionally we’re able to go about our business.

2. Schedule ‘go slow’ periods into your days and weeks

If every work day is scheduled down to the minute, and the slightest interruption from someone (like, say, a valuable client or staff member) makes steam come out of your ears, this is hardly ideal. Yet, this is how most of us structure our days. We create incredibly ambitious to-do lists and anything that messes with that list makes us angry.

This isn’t great for our stress levels, but it’s particularly not great for relationships. And, as we all know, great relationships are the cornerstone of any great business.

To get around this, you need to start scheduling buffer periods into your days and weeks.

For example, when scheduling my days, I always schedule one hour for lunch. I very rarely take a whole hour for lunch, but having that buffer time means if something interrupts my morning and I have to catch up before lunch, I can.

When scheduling my week and making promises to clients, I pretend I work a four-day week and that Friday is not available. It is, of course. I just don’t factor it into my calculations. This allows me to use Friday as a ‘catch up day’ if I need, a ‘go slow day’ if I’m on top of my work, and a ‘be pro-active day’ if I’m really on top of my work.

3. Take that holiday

In March of the past three years my husband and I have gone to a conference in the Philippines – one that goes for five days. We always get there a few days early and when travelling time is factored in, it usually involves us being away from work and home for nine days.

Every time that conference has rolled around, it’s been a ‘bad time’ to be away from our business for that amount of time. Yet, every single time we’ve gone, we’ve remarked how crucial it was to the growth of our business. The enforced downtime allowed us to de-stress, look at problems from different angles, and showed us new ways to run our business more professionally.

The reality of being a business owner is there is never a ‘good time’ to go away! There’s always something going on that, in the perfect world, requires you to be around.

Forcing yourself to take a break from your business will almost always make your business more professional and profitable.

So, go on, I dare you. Get online right now and book that well-deserved holiday.

Not only will you not regret it, your business (and your clients) will actively thank you for it.

Do you schedule ‘recovery’ time into your weeks? What does ‘recovery’ look like for you?

Kelly Exeter

(former Flying Solo Editor) is an author, editor and ghostwriter with particular expertise in helping non-fiction writers get their book babies out into the world. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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