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Running your own small business can be stressful, and although many of us work well with a little adrenaline flowing through the system, constant stress can make us ill and miserable. So here are a few ways you can avoid and reduce stress:

Compartmentalise Your Time – And Your Space
It’s far too easy to let work bleed over into your home life, particularly if your home is also your workplace. Try to establish office hours, and do your best to stick to them. Take a proper lunch break away from your desk: eat slowly and spend time reading a book, phoning a friend, doing a Sudoku or two… anything that takes your mind away from work. Tempted to sit in front of the TV with a pile of paperwork on your lap every evening? Don’t! Work is done – this is your time to relax.

If you do work from home, avoid letting business paperwork, equipment and stock encroach on your living space. Try to keep it somewhere where you can shut the door on it – even if it’s only a cupboard door!

Don’t Delay
It’s tempting to put off difficult tasks or conversations, but by doing this, you’re just dooming yourself to a longer period of anxiety. The fear of something can often become bigger than the thing itself. Get the awkward tasks out of the way first thing in the morning, or make a pledge with yourself to tackle one every day until they’re all completed. Imagine what a relief that will be!

Also, be creative about how you tackle these dreaded tasks. Could you get help with that task, either from someone else or by reading a helpful blog or book? Is there a course you can take to arm yourself with the skills and confidence you need?

As for that difficult phone call – does it need to be made at all? Perhaps you could deal with it by email or letter, or find someone else to approach about the matter – someone easier to deal with?

Have a Master Calendar
Avoid multiple calendars and diaries. If you carry a small diary around, be disciplined about transferring notes to your main calendar daily. Unless you’re a technophobe, the best modern solution is to have an online calendar that you can access and sync from your phone and all your other devices.

Set automated reminders to remind you of events, tasks and appointments before they happen. It’s no good receiving a notification that your meeting in Leeds is due to start if you’re three hours away, oblivious.

Make Planning and Preparation Your Mantra

At the beginning of your working day, or even a few minutes before you’re due to start, take the time to think through the day and plan the most efficient way to achieve the items on your to-do list. This can save time by helping you avoid dead periods when you are waiting on responses from someone else.

Always have something you can be preparing for and working on while you’re waiting. Stuck on the train? If you’ve ensured your Smartphone has apps that are compatible with programs you use on your desktop computer, you can use the magic of the Cloud to work on projects that you can access once you get back to the office.

Don’t Expect the Worst
This will only increase your stress. ‘Sufficient to the day are the troubles thereof’ – in other words, today comes with enough of its own stress. Try not to worry about tomorrow or the next day, and banish those worst-case scenarios from your head; you’re just raising your blood pressure over something that might never happen. Prepare as well as you can and don’t fret about things you can’t change. Worrying about what could happen won’t change what does.

Avoid the Doubters and Doomers
Unless we’re very lucky, we all have at least one or two doubters and doomers in our lives. Avoid them as much as possible. The last thing your stress levels need is someone who is constantly negative, doubting your ability, damaging your self-esteem and predicting the worst outcome. Instead, spend more time with friends and family members who are enthusiastic about your business and positive about its future, and are more likely to suggest fresh, creative ideas than predict your inevitable failure.

Finally, don’t be afraid to delegate to a suitable employee, or to ask for help from friends if you’re a one-person show. True friends won’t mind lending a hand to get your business up and running, providing you don’t take them for granted and you show your appreciation. Running a small business by yourself doesn’t mean you’re on your own.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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