As a small business owner, you have to juggle many balls and spin a canteen’s worth of plates. You have to simultaneously pay attention to every part of your business; sales, production, cash flow, marketing, accounts and the list goes on.
During a typical day, your attention is pulled in many directions at once and this can make it difficult to focus and get anything done at all.
Sadly, this means many business owners end up being a slave to their own dream business. They could do with another couple of hours each day and another working day a week. How can they hope to get off the bus?
One thought at a time
One of the strange qualities of the human mind is that it is only capable of experiencing one thought at a time.
For example, if you think about the sentence above, you will find what ever you were thinking about gets replaced by that very notion. Think about what you had for breakfast this morning and that notion about the singular nature of human thought gets replaced yet again by the image of cereal, toast, fruit or bacon and eggs perhaps.
During the course of each day, our minds will focus on the task in hand for some of the time, at least. There will be times though where we mull over past conversations, or past events. Our minds might wander forwards in time to what we’re having for supper or what we are up to at the weekend.
We are also prone to being interrupted by others and our own thoughts that appear out of the blue. As a business owner, you might be in a creative meeting about a new product but only be half-present as you logged in to the bank account just before the meeting.
Our internal dialogue or chatter might replay conversations where we wished we’d come up with that sharp, witty answer. Alternatively, we may be rehearsing a speech or talk we are doing in the future or an awkward conversation we’ve been meaning to have with our boss.
The human mind, while a wondrous thing, is a wandering time machine which constantly slips in and out of the present moment.
What’s more it does this all by itself. We can be writing an email or doing the washing up and, all of a sudden, our imagination can whisk us back to a beach on a past holiday or forward in time to an evening out we’ve planned with friends. We might even think about someone only for the phone to ring, or an email to appear, from that very person.
So how do we control this tendency for our mind to wander all by itself so that we can increase our efficiency and improve our focus? Surely we have no control over our minds.
The importance of me time
For a busy business owner, the thought of taking any time out might be the last thing on their mind. It may be counter-intuitive but by starting each day being mindful of our own needs, we become better placed to attend to the needs of others and the requirements of our business.
By starting each and every day with at least 10 minutes of meditation, we begin to form a new relationship with our thoughts. When we do this, we have a better chance of controlling the wonderings and wanderings of our mind. We become better able to focus on one thing at time. We also start the day by being calm and this spreads to those around us.
We can expand on this even more by starting each working day by working on our own ‘To Do’ list before becoming embroiled with the needs of others.
Encouraging all staff to begin the day with a ‘Creative Hour’ means nobody can interrupt anyone else. This means phones, emails and social media are switched off. By way of example, this is how this very article is being produced.
Extended me time
After practicing meditation for just 10 minutes a day for a week or so, we become better equipped to enter and remain in the meditative state with our eyes open. When we do this three things happen.
Firstly, time seems to expand so we get more done with less of it. The state we get into is called EMT – or Extended Me Time. We enter a state of Whole Brain Thinking when our left and right brains synchronise and harmonise.
Secondly, both external and internal interruptions reduce in frequency and volume.
Thirdly, and this is perhaps the most magical and beneficial benefit, external events begin to happen just at the most perfect time.
When we begin our day with a quiet mind and continue our day remaining calm and being mindful of our thoughts, we become luckier.
With reduced internal dialogue, and a quieter ‘monkey mind’, we become better at spotting serendipities and happenstances that can help our business. In all probability, these were happening before but we just didn’t notice them as we were self-absorbed in our own thoughts.
When events start to happen ‘just in time’, the mindful business owner can take this as corroboration that they are on to a good thin. Our minds might wander forwards in time to what we’re having for supper or what we are up to at the weekend.
We are also prone to being interrupted by others and our own thoughts that appear out of the blue. and on the right path. If any adversity visits their door, the mindful perspective is merely to realise that there is probably and easier way.
All that has happened is that you have been given a sign. Alternatively, if we come up with a solution to the problem, we can turn it into an opportunity to sell to others.
So by switching from a glass half-empty to glass half-full perspective we end up with the potential for our glass to be over-brimming. This all starts by treating yourself to 10 minutes of Me Time every day.
About the author
This article has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Tom Evans, author of, ‘The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness’ published by SRA Books. Tom is an active philanthropist and the creator of the world’s first time management programme based on mindfulness called Living Timefully. He also hosts the popular Zone Show podcast which explores how to get in and stay in the zone.
More on starting and running your own business
ByteStart is packed with help and tips on all aspects of starting and running a small business. Check out some of our most popular guides;
- 5 things you must do when you go self employed
- 10 advantages running your business as a limited company has over being a sole trader
- How to set up a limited company
- How to choose the best online accounting software for your business
- 15 Questions to ask when hiring an accountant for your new business
Leading a business
- How to be a leader rather than a manager
- Developing your startup’s greatest asset – YOU
- The Founder’s dilemma – Managing the transformation from start-up to growth business
- Building your resilience to help you cope with the ups and downs of starting and running your own business
- Why the best leaders do less
Funding your business
- How to maximise your chances of securing a small business loan
- A Guide to ‘Alternative Finance’ – the new funding options for startups and small businesses
- Finding finance for your new business – funding advice for start-ups
- How peer-to-peer lending offers businesses a new funding option
- What to do when the bank says “NO”!
Money & Tax matters
- 10 ways small business owners can pay less tax
- Sole trader tax – a guide for start-ups and the newly self employed
- Dividend tax changes from April 2016 – A summary of the financial effects for small business owners
- ByteStart’s Guide to the main business taxes
- Corporation Tax – How to reduce your bill
Promoting your business
- Making your small business a BIG hit online – A Digital marketing guide for small business owners
- How to create business cards that make a big impression
- The “Magic 10” Tips on networking – how the experts build great networks
- A Practical guide to Content Marketing for small business owners and start-ups
- 10 Top tips for small businesses starting out with social media
- Which types of insurance must your business have?
- Becoming an employer – Your responsibilities when you hire staff
- Health & Safety compliance for small businesses – where do you start?
- A Guide to the National Living Wage for small business owners
- Why it’s vital you have clear ‘Terms & Conditions’ for your business