COVID has been tough on business owners. Change is the new normal and business owners I talk to are not just physically tired, they are mentally tired from carrying so much uncertainty, planning, list-making and organising as they take care of those that are dependent on them. They have Decision Fatigue.
As business owners, every decision we make takes time and energy and adds to our mental load. This mental load builds over time and begins to take its toll. You may not be aware of feeling tired but you’ll feel low on mental energy. Each decision during the day feels bigger and bigger and you’ll probably begin avoiding them or making impulsive decisions, all of which compile your problems. So what can you do to decrease your mental load and decision fatigue?
Make fewer decisions.
Reducing the number of decisions is the easiest way to reduce your mental load:
- Eat an easy breakfast
- Use lists to keep track and keep you focussed
- Automate what you can such as bill payments & invoice reminders.
- Train staff to come to you with not just problems but also options that they have thought through.
- Plan your meals for the week – I use Hello Fresh, it is healthy and easy as.
Delegate your decisions.
You need to give away tasks to the point where you are only doing what only you can do. Under pressure, many owners take on more and more jobs rather than giving them away. It can seem easier to ‘just do it myself’ but it will hurt you in the long run. Think, ‘what needs to happen for the business to run without me?’, write those down and start handing them over. It’s hard to loosen control but as long as you hang onto everything you limit the growth of your business and keep increasing your mental load – you need to delegate now.
- At Home – what can you give away at home? Can your kids cook one night a week? (Hello Fresh makes that easy).
- Focus on Systems – take time to write down processes as you do them so you can hand them over. Create a hard or soft copy library that your team can access to know what to do and how to go about it. I use Google Sites as an online Wikipedia for my business, it’s free and relatively easy.
- Are trusted team members interested in taking on different duties? involve them in client/supplier meetings, phone calls and so forth.
- Use a bookkeeper.
Work on the business by creating systems and processes and training staff. Delegating to your team empowers them and shows you trust them, and adds tremendous value to your business so get delegating now.
Make big decisions in the Morning
Most people are fresher and sharper in the morning so book important internal and external meetings then. Do Not Disturb – starting is easy, finishing is harder so make sure you have blocks of undisturbed time where you can work on and complete your tasks.
Make Decisions Quickly
This is particularly critical regarding economic and staffing related decisions which are difficult and uncomfortable. If you struggle making decisions practice making small low impact ones quickly. Get a mentor or coach that you can run things by and who can help you in this area. You need to ‘Close the Loop’ – make a decision and put it to bed. The more open loops you have, the greater your mental load.
Look After Yourself
When the pressure is on owners usually get busier and neglect themselves. Their stress increases, they eat poorly, their head starts going strange places and the business suffers. Martyrdom does not pay the bills. Just stick with the cheap and easy basics;
- Sleep – get adequate sleep, don’t stay up late doing unproductive things like watching TV, social media etc. Go to bed. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you.
- Eat – have healthy meals, eat your veggies.
- Exercise – create a routine exercise in the morning or night. If you are feeling drained or stressed at work go for a quick walk and grab a coffee.
- Drink water – your brain and body need hydration. Coffee dehydrates you so have a water bottle to drink each day.
- Breathe – deep breathing when you are stressed is an oxygen hit for the brain and helps slow down the chaos.
- Make time to do things you enjoy.
Don’t forget, you are not alone. Keep connected with other business owners (networking) and have someone you can talk to (coach, mentor). These are tough times but they won’t last, the key is to make sure you do. Advantage of having data on their fingertips not to mention instant engagement and better interaction. Mobile applications have become a software revolution that gave businesses a whole new platform that enables them to reach out directly to their clients. By owning an