If you’re looking to get into better habits within your business this year, here are a few tips to get you started.
It’s a new year, filled with possibilities and the chance to achieve all those goals you may have lost sight of last year. Running a growing business is both exciting and challenging, and often the best way to learn is by speaking to and learning from your peers.
With that in mind, here are some ideas for cultivating healthy business habits from other self-employed people, entrepreneurs and business owners:
1. Address your productivity
The modern world is filled with distractions. Social media, Whatsapp, email, there are so many things vying for your attention, that often you’ll look up and realise that you haven’t ticked off any of the tasks on your to-do list. As popularised recently by many books on productivity, some people are choosing to ‘turn off’ email and only check it a few times a day.
Writer Cath Jenkin is part of this group of people and says that one of her goals this year is to manage email more effectively. “I’ve set up alerts for priority clients, but otherwise I only ‘do’ emails twice a day now”. She says this not only saves her time but also helps her think more clearly.
Related: 21 Business-focused habits of a successful entrepreneur
2. Set boundaries
One of the biggest challenges when you run your own business is switching off. Personal trainer Jane Kilian says that she’s going to try not work after 8pm each night.
“I’m going to set boundaries and have less screen time and more me time. This will also force me to get my work done in office hours”. Another way to do this is to have a work email policy where employees are encouraged to not email each other outside of certain hours or on weekends. This will mean your employees can disconnect from work and recharge.
3. Look at your working environment
Now’s the time to really spring-clean your working space. Clear out your desk drawers, file any important documents or fix that broken cupboard door that keeps falling off its hinges.
Make your working space more conducive to your productivity, whether this means buying some plants to cheer up a drab space, getting that extension cord you’ve been needing for months or changing from a chair to a standing desk.
Insurance professional Anthony van Rensburg says that standing desks are all the rage now, as they offer multiple health benefits. Another way to take care of your employees’ health is by adopting a corporate wellness programme, like this one from Fedhealth which offers health benefits aimed at small to medium-sized enterprises.
4. Think about meetings
Take a long hard look at the regular meetings you held last year and consider how beneficial they were to morale or productivity.
Change the format of the ones that didn’t work, perhaps by communicating via another channel (i.e an intranet) or holding the meeting but making it a ‘standing meeting only’ (this will ensure that attendees don’t prolong the meeting longer than they should).
Copywriter and editor Tiffany Markman says that she’s adopted a 'No Meeting Mondays' to get into the week's work, and an 'Admin Friday mornings', to close off the week. “I did both of these last year and they worked really well”, she says.
Related: Measuring the good, bad and ugly of driving habits
5. Upskill, upskill, upskill
Being the owner of your own business, or part of a small team, may mean that there are some skills you’re missing in your collective working environment. Think about what you needed last year and look into specific courses that could provide you with those skills.
Lexi Bird of Ma Mere Confections says that her goal this year is to get smarter because “You can only get so far with straight hustling.” Meg Pascoe, co-owner of gourmet catering company The Counter agrees: “I’ll be teaching myself new skills and updating my old ones with courses, because there’s always room for improvement.”
6. Simplify things
Christine Bernard, a freelance writer and graphic designer, says that she’ll be focusing this year on the projects that work well and that she loves. Learn from your experiences last year and consider projects, clients or suppliers that simply didn’t work and then consider removing these or changing the way you approach them.
Sometimes it’s difficult as a small business owner to say no to things but this can be the key to unlocking your time for even more exciting possibilities and projects in the future.