You’ve heard it forever: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Paper, plastic, glass, cardboard, hangers, poly, car tires, on and on. But have you ever applied the principles to yourself and your business as a whole?
April is a good month to think about a new kind of recycling. Recycle yourself and different aspects of your business for a fresh outlook and new energy.
There are lots of things in your life you can reduce to give new purpose and enjoyment to yourself and your business. Let’s look at one as an example: stress.
Stress is a killer. It literally wears down your body by pouring too much adrenaline into your system too often. The purpose of adrenaline is a short-term burst of energy to protect you in dangerous situations. When you never let up, it can lead to anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, muscle tension and pain, heart disease, strokes, sleep problems, weight gain and memory or cognitive issues, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What is causing you stress in your personal or business life? How can you reduce it?
Poor work/life balance. Find ways to limit the time you spend on work and seek ways to enjoy yourself outside of it.
Areas of business you hate. If you hate accounting, either hand it off to a professional or take a class (like QuickBooks or some other program) so you understand it better. Knowledge is power, and also will help you relax.
Poor health. If you’re overweight, make strategic decisions each day that limit what and how much you eat. Do you really need to hit the fast food drive-through five times a week? How about 2 times? And make it a small, not a super size. If you just don’t feel well and lack energy, see your doctor. Don’t put it off. Be proactive.
Not enough income. This can be extremely stressful. So rather than hiding from it, attack it head on. Look for some passive income streams like adding items for sale in your call office for customers—from snacks to toiletries to garment grooming items. Plan a campaign to reach new customers or reacquaint current customers with more of your services to bring in extra sales.
Worries about the future. Our world is uncertain, and has become more so in the last few years. Everybody’s a bit on edge. Take the worry down a notch by putting pen to paper and listing everything you are concerned about. Then make brief notes about how you can take action to head off your worries. Concerned about how your business will progress? Make a 1-year plan including promotions, equipment decisions and other items. Then work the plan. Do that for each item on your list.
Sometimes you just need to go back to the tried-and-true in order to make progress again. When it comes to your personal life, think about what used to make you happy and fulfilled. How can you resurrect those things again? Rejoin a social club? Take up a favorite sport or hobby again? Go on a brief vacation?
In your business life, look back at what has brought you success in the past. Yes, the business climate shut down for a few years. If anything, that works in your favor. Old promotions and ideas have had time to slip from your customers’ minds, and you can bring them out again. If it worked before, reintroducing it will also help to make your customers feel like life is getting back to normal again at last.
Were there things you did with your staff in the past that gave them new interest in the work and energy for the day? It could have been simple things like Friday Pizza or a contest regarding the least re-dos or some other benchmark you set and the whole team drove toward the goal together and were rewarded as a group. (Much better than setting employees against each other in a competition.) Bring out those old ideas and update them for today.
The essence of the word recycle is to convert something that is used up into something that is new and serviceable. That doesn’t just have to apply to waste materials. You can recycle your mind and areas of your business.
When was the last time you rubbed the familiarity out of your eyes and walked through your call office and plant really looking at it for what is or is not working? The more you see something, the less you actually notice it. That back area where boxes of dusty supplies have accumulated could be cleaned out and re-purposed into a staff break area. The flow of work from station to station may be improved if you just move one piece of equipment to another area. A fresh face on the whole call office can lift team spirit in the plant and make customers give you another look, as well.
Your mind can also stagnate over time as you do things the same old way—and get the same old results. (Some people say the definition of crazy is to expect it to result in anything new.) So jump start your brain and see how it can get you moving again as a person and a business owner.
Seek out and read a good book (or listen during your commute) on fresh thinking techniques.
Put “generating new ideas” into a search engine and spend some time just absorbing the flow of great input from a variety of sources.
Turn your To Do list on its ear. If you get to the end of the day and wonder where it went and what you did, try making a Done list, instead. As you do a task during the day, jot it in a small notepad. At the end of the day, look back at what you accomplished, and feel a fresh wind carry you into the next day.
Go to your suppliers and allied trades representatives and ask them what is working in other plants. Grab the good ideas and recycle them into your own operation. The guy who invented the wheel was a genius; all those who have tried to reinvent it, not so much.
The key to recycling yourself and your business is awareness. Realize you are stuck in a rut. Recognize there is room for improvement. Then go looking for tools and ideas to make it happen. Just finding a great new option will boost your enthusiasm.
Becca Anderson spent 17 years in public relations, advertising and corporate PR before joining Fabricare Canada in 2000. She was named editor in 2013, and welcomes feedback about the magazine via the contact form on this site.