Working more efficiently, wasting less time, and being highly organized are three keys to a successful business. These are things that most small business owners and women- and minority-owned businesses will learn as they gain experience in running a business.
However, there is one more part of the work/life balance that is essential and does not get nearly enough attention: physical endurance for optimal health to increase working capacity.
World-class athletes have numerous trainers assisting them throughout their days to get their bodies in the most optimal shape possible, creating a foundation for a successful athletic career. Why not use the same mindset for busy professionals, leaders, and small business owners?
The first question to ask when asking “why not?” is “is there a real benefit?” The answer to that is a resounding “Yes!”
Don’t Start a Business and Start Bad Eating Habits
Ask any person who has started his or her own business and he or she will tell you that they put in regular 20-hour days, especially the first couple years. Their desks, briefcase, and/or handbag are full of fast snacks like crackers and candy and their mini-fridge is filled with instant microwave meals. Or they just do take-out all day long.
With that kind of eating plan, probably four or five hours out of that 20-hour work day is spent dragging and mentally and physically exhausted. Those hours are unproductive times. Rather than spending four or five hours a day being mentally too out of it to really be productive, work smarter and healthier.
We All Hate to Hear It, But Listen Anyway…
Exercise. The most detrimental actions that negatively affect long-term health, regardless of employed status, is not getting proper exercise.
Don’t skip to the next point yet, bear it out. A hard-working MWBE owner or small business owner does not need to spend two hours a day in the gym (unless they want to!); however, find a way to MOVE. Depending on the business location, consider keeping a bike at work and taking a short bike ride on a lunch or break. Take a walk. Step away from the computer and do ten minutes of stretching exercises a few times a day.
These simple, short, pleasant methods of moving bodies will not be that difficult even for the busiest business owner. Those pesky status reports or slightly-important emails that are hard to find time to read can be read while doing desk exercises. Multi-tasking while getting exercise is better than trying to multi-task two important functions and not doing either one very well.
That Goes for Employees, Too!
If the leader is going to gain productivity and wellness from a little bit of exercise, then encourage it with employees or subordinates on your team as well. Encourage desk-ridden workers to do desk exercises alongside leaders.
Provide workers with a space inside or outside that supports any type of movement: an outside volleyball and basketball net, maybe a room set aside for a few key pieces of exercise equipment, and once-a-month outings to something that encourages fun movement like paintball or other fun-filled team-building exercises.
Keep healthy snacks and drinks if there is a machine or employee refrigerator. Encourage healthy eating by doing it first and providing positive feedback to the things that are really good. Find and hand out coupons for healthy products or healthier take-out choices.
The bottom line to this is that the healthier the owner/leader is and the healthier the staff, the more productive the entire operation will be. Productivity equals profits!
How Exercise Helps
Rather than grabbing the fourth cup of coffee to stave off the yawns, taking a fifteen minute brisk walk and drinking a bottle of filtered water will increase oxygen levels in the blood. This will improve clarity, revive exhaustion, and wake up the entire body.
On another note, promoting healthier living will reduce the amount of time workers and leaders are out sick. Absenteeism accounts for more un- or under-productive days in any type of business.
Rather than trying to gain an extra ten minutes by eating a pop tart, spend fifteen to twenty minutes making a healthy breakfast. Doing this on a regular basis will promote a healthier body. Consider the ten minutes saved on a bad breakfast choice will add three unproductive days later in the month when a virus attaches to a lowered immune system.
Seriously, Quit Smoking
Another hated subject that smokers hate to hear again and again, but it absolutely bears repeating when the discussion is about the success of a small business. We know the US statistics are that smoking kills more people than accidents, murders, and drugs/alcohol combined. The British Medical Journal cites that one cigarette reduces life expectancy by eleven minutes, so there is obviously a life-expectancy issue that lends to loss of business.
However, for the daily routine of work, smoking lowers the immune system, makes one more susceptible to infections, and increases respiratory issues that can land a person out of work for weeks.
Now consider the time spent smoking. The average cigarette takes between six and ten minutes to smoke. A small business that has the owner, a manager, and three employees who all smoke on average a pack a day, approximately one cigarette an hour. Just in a typical eight-hour work day, that is 400 minutes of smoking time each day for that business.
So maybe a business owner doesn’t want to quit and won’t force employees to quit. However, it can be controlled. Insisting on only smoking during scheduled breaks and perhaps not smoking on the property will lend a hand to curtail cigarette breaks and time spent away from productive work. Consider creative ways to help each other through the work day without smoking. It will be a smart business move for everyone.
Resist Stress in Five Easy Steps
Change a negative attitude. There are some people who just see the absolute worst case scenario in everything. These are the same people who remain stressed more than average. Stop looking at every small crisis as an insurmountable issue. Focus on positive thinking and finding the positive in situations. Don’t view something as a problem, but an opportunity. This is not a change that can happen overnight. This will take a very conscious effort on a daily basis until it becomes natural, but anyone can change their attitude.
Take action on a problem. When problems and issues arise, rather than spending energy worrying about the problem and thinking about how difficult it is, immediately start thinking of steps to fix the issue and take them. Do not procrastinate on the tough issues that arise during the day. Tackling these issues head on and getting them off the calendar/email/work order fast will make a manager, owner, or worker start feeling better about each and every day…which means less stress.
Accept the reality that issues are always going to arise. Going through life thinking that life begins when everything goes smooth will waste away an entire life. Life happens every second of every day; it is how you deal with it that makes the difference between positivity and negativity. There may be some very blessed and lucky days where everything goes right, but those are the exception rather than the rule. That is just reality. Deal with it instead of pretending it doesn’t exist.
Make every intentional decision and thought a way to work towards a personal goal. If the work day consists of a clear plan for goals, whether they are daily, weekly, yearly, or lifetime goals, working through problems with those goals in mind will take the pressure away from potential stressors that are really not that important. For example, you lose a bank statement. While that might put a cramp in the day when trying to balance the office checkbook, it is not going to have a factor in you reaching the goal to leave for your vacation in two weeks.
Developing personal and workplace health and reduction of stress will maintain a very healthy staff and leader that will sustain performance, enhance productivity, reduce lost time from sickness, and reduce stress. A healthy workforce is going to grow leaps and bounds better than the competition who does not give a moments thought to health, fitness, and nutrition.
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