7 Simple Steps to a Stress-Less Vacation

Ahhh… you can feel it now, basking in the warm sunshine, sitting by a beautiful pool or the ocean – your mind drifts off and you are so there… so ready for a holiday!!!  Time to shed the suit, let your hair down and chill out.  Then, your phone rings. You snap back to reality… Whoa!!! Looking at your computer, you see 35 new emails have appeared in your In-box and you think to yourself, “How will I ever get away?”

Yes, this is the reality we all face when we want to take some time off. May I add, some well-deserved time off? We know it’s in our best interest to do so and we know how great we’ll feel when we ride off into the sunset, but I have always found that it’s the preparing to leave which is most daunting! I really believe it’s the unknown variables that hangs us up, “What if I lose a client because I’m not around?” “What if they go to my competition?” What if, what if, what if! Before we know it, we’re so stressed out thinking about the “what ifs” that we lose sight of the importance and benefits of downtime. The truth is that most people actually expect you to take a holiday! Now, as an entrepreneur, I have found that preparing effectively for a vacation has increased in importance! It used to be that when I left for vacation, when I worked in ‘The Big Job’, I’d put my “Out of Office” message on and state very nicely, “and in my absence, please contact Susie Smith at email@susiesmith or I will respond to you upon my return.”

Well, now running my own business, there’s just me! So what does the message look like these days? I have learned to be creative and to better manage the number of e-mails and phone calls, so people don’t have to wait for a response. My Out of Office message directs them to my website, where they may review our upcoming workshops and events. This actually helps manage the volume and type of email inquiries. I have found, that by providing the inquirer with some high-level information, their questions are usually more specific and they have also spent some time finding out more about my business… it’s a win-win!

These are 7 helpful tips to managing your stress levels as you go on vacation:

  1. Prepare for your vacation, starting two weeks before!Yes, it’s critical that you take inventory of what absolutely needs to be complete before you take off for vacation, assess their level of priority, and then book all of those tasks into your schedule. You will be much more relaxed getting through the tasks and more likely to complete them. Examples: file your HST, month-end invoicing/payroll, schedule social media posts or advertising, to name a few. Think about hiring a temp admin person to cover the basics.
  2. Use your calendar as your to-do list.As stated in step 1, book everything into your schedule, make sure to set automatic reminders and it’ll get done. Give yourself some breathing room; prioritize tasks, schedule meetings according to importance and what makes the most sense for your business. Give each task the stress-test, “Can this wait?” If it cannot, then that task goes to the top. If it can wait –schedule it into your calendar at a later date.
  3. Drink lots of water, reduce caffeine and eat well. We’ve all heard this before, and it’s absolutely true. Quite often headaches or fatigue are due to being dehydrated and not eating properly. This may lead to anxiety, which contributes to feeling distracted. Be sure to eat 3 meals a day with healthy snacks in between (usually every 2-3 hours). Include fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, drink at least 1.5L of water and reduce your caffeine in-take. You will have more energy and should be able to stay more focused.  Feeling satiated and hydrated, you may find yourself getting into a rhythm, as you begin to work through all of your To-Do’s. Oh, and remember to take bathroom breaks. It may sound funny to remind yourself to do this but how can anyone concentrate if they need to go?
  4. Let that call go to voicemail! If it’s important, they’ll leave a message. If you pick up that phone, you might be in for a lengthy phone call – just let it go. Also, it’s a good idea to have a service level agreement built into your voice mail message that states when you’ll get back to them, for example: I’ll return your call within 24 hours OR I’ll get back to you within two business days.
  5. Don’t book any unnecessary meetings or networking the week before your vacation.You can network and book meetings during the other 51 weeks of the year. If you try and attend networking and other meetings, all you’ll be thinking about is how much you have to do. You’ll feel and appear distracted and edgy. Schedule meetings and networking events when you can actually be in the moment and enjoy the people you’re with. Think about it, you represent your business every time you’re out, so give yourself a break –don’t cram!
  6. Set your “out of office” on the morning of the last day you’re at work and change your voice message.You won’t believe the relief you feel when you take yourself off the grid the day before your holiday. You’ll be way more productive and anyone calling or emailing you, will know that you’re not available. You will have that entire day to take care all those last minute tasks before you leave the office!
  7. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth; repeat often.Everything will still be there when you get back – feeling refreshed, recharged and ready to rock!

The best way to give your all, is to look after yourself and remain healthy and well. You, your family and your clients will all benefit when you take time to relax and get away –so go ahead, book that time off, follow these 7 Simple Steps, Stress-less and enjoy. You’re worth it!

Heather Wilson, ATC

Show Yourself Some Love

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It is easy to get so busy during your day, that you barely have time to breathe or eat lunch. However, studies show that people who get up, and take time for themselves actually accomplish much more in a given day, than those who just sit and plow through whatever comes across their desk. Their minds are clearer, they are more focused and are able to sustain their energy levels much better throughout the day. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do, to show yourself some love and get stuff done!

Take regular mental breaks. In order to maintain productivity, you must take a real break, and I mean more than grabbing a quick bite to eat at your desk. I mean, getting up away from the computer and your desk. Go for a walk outside, grab a cup of tea, read a blog post or a chapter in that great book you’re reading. TAKE A MENTAL BREAK!! You can only maintain a focused line of thinking for so long, then your brain shuts off… your mind drifts and before you know it, you’re mumbling to yourself and making errors. Get up, take a nice deep breath and take a break. It will do wonders for you and whatever you’re working on!

Choose 3 tasks you want to complete. People often ask me, “So how do I set goals each day to maximize my work day?” My idea of maximizing my work day and yours may be quite different. We all have a definition of what “productivity” is. For me and the question I would have you ask yourself is, “How do I want to feel at the end of a work day?” Drained, but you accomplished all 10 things on your to-do list? Or do you want to feel good about the three tasks you accomplished and still have energy to greet your dog, your children, your spouse when you get home… and not collapse on the couch? Productivity is defined as: the long-term productivity of land. The effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.

Yes, being productive is not just about getting stuff done, it is also about being effective. So, next time you try to wedge 10 tasks into one day, ask yourself, what would be the best use of my time? What three tasks are top priority? Hey, if you get more done after those three tasks, bonus -that means more to celebrate!

Celebrate your accomplishments. Now when I say celebrate, I mean celebrate. Think about this for a moment. We spend our days, marketing ourselves in business, working hard to land another great client and then BAM -it happens. What do we do? Oh, that’s great… and quickly move on to the next thing. Or in your job, you go into work day after day, doing your very best work and one day, your boss calls you into his or her office and says, “I have been watching all of the great work you’ve been doing, I’d like to discuss an opportunity with you!” What happens when we land an amazing client or we say, hey that’s awesome –a new exciting opportunity or a promotion?

What is that about? Seriously, you worked your tail off to get that new client or that promotion. So go out and bask in that accomplishment!

I am telling you, be sure to acknowledge yourself and your accomplishments. As Jack Canfield says, you will stay motivated and you will be much more successful long-term, if you enjoy the fruits of your labour. Some people may argue that it’s their job to keep growing and doing better, getting new clients is what being in business is all about.

YES and… if we let it happen and miss celebrating and acknowledging these successes along the way, we lose sight of the real reason we started our businesses or we go to work each day –our passion and love for what we do.

In conclusion, we are the sum of our habits. The more we can create and develop strong habits, the better we will feel and the more accomplished and effective we will be long-term. Oh and, no beating yourself up! If you have a day where things don’t go so well, acknowledge it, step back, and ask yourself, what did I learn? Tomorrow is another day. Stay positive, remember –you are human!

Thank you for reading our blog. To follow us on Facebook on social media, check out who we are or to contact us, visit our website at www.sparkyourvitality.com. We would love to chat with you!

 

 

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3 Tips for All You Busy People

Are you finding that this is the time of year where you are super busy?  Are you juggling a million different things? Whether you’re a business owner, a teacher or you work for a small organization or a large corporation, I always find this is one of the busiest times of the year.  It seems we go from wrapping up our income taxes, to school coming to an end and the rush is on before everyone starts taking summer vacation.

So, we thought it might be helpful to share a few tips to managing the busyness and being able to keep your cool at the same time!

  1. Decide what the top 3 priority tasks are each day. The challenge can be deciding which tasks are actually a priority, with a gazillion things coming at us.  Well, here’s an easy “filtration system” to clarify what is actually priority.  Ask yourself these questions: What is the task?  How long will it take?  How will accomplishing make me feel?  Will it be relevant to other tasks? Once you know what you’re tasks are, clarify the approximate timing, why they’re important, you will be able to filter out the noise and actually accomplish what needs to get done.  You’ll probably notice yourself being more strategic and intentional in other aspects of your life as well!
  2. Put these specific tasks right into your daily schedule.Yes, schedule these tasks into your schedule every day and block off time to complete them.  I learned this when I started my own business a few years back.  I realized that I was running my business around other people schedules.  NOW… I fit other people around my business.  It has been life-changing!! The moment you realize that there are really only 4 solid ‘working hours’ in your work day, not 10 or 20 hours, you will become laser-focused on what you want to accomplish and feel a wealth of satisfaction from it -it’s not selfish, it’s self-care!!
  3. Acknowledge yourself and celebrate your accomplishments.When you get into the routine of doing steps 1 and 2, you will love yourself for acknowledging the fact that “you simply cannot do it all!” It can be daunting thinking about our long list of to-do’s every day.  I say, throw away the to-do lists (I have and trust me it’s been life-changing) and look at what you’re able to do, given what is on your plate for the day.  As the day goes on, acknowledge yourself for all that you’re juggling and celebrate each accomplishment throughout the day.  This will promote positive self-talk, it will keep you motivated and feeling inspired and you’ll realize that you are accomplishing tasks -even if it feels like there’s still lots to do!

In summary, we know life, work and business can get overwhelming.  That said, we are human beings, not human doings which means we must preserve our well-being by acknowledging the good stuff, enjoying accomplishments AND enjoying life.  Our belief is that when you take care of you, you will feel more satisfaction and you’ll earn the respect of others, who will want to know your secret to success.  Remember, focus on the top 3 priorities, accomplish them and celebrate!  Be good to yourself and notice how great you feel… repeat daily!

Heather Wilson, ATC