Looking after the rocks first … or mindful priority-setting

The following story is one that’s been circulating for a while. It holds a very important message regarding setting priorities in our lives – whether we are business owners or not:
A professor of philosophy stood before his class with some items in front of him. When the class began, he picked up a large glass jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was full.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and watched as the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The professor then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They laughed and agreed that it was indeed full this time.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining open areas of the jar. “Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar signifies your life. The rocks are the truly important things, such as family, health and relationships. If all else was lost and only the rocks remained, your life would still be meaningful. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work or school. The sand signifies the remaining “small stuff” and material possessions.
If you put sand into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles. The same can be applied to your lives. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are truly important.

Take care of the rocks first – things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just pebbles and sand.

Even if this story is not new to you, let it trigger a reminder that the rocks really do matter. You can label the glass jar “My working day”, “My business” or “My life in general” and decide on the priorities (rocks) for each one. Just like Diane Keaton had a jar of white pebbles on her desk in the film “Something’s gotta give” (appropriately named film in this case!) you can even use a real jar and real stones as an ornamental and subtle reminder to make time for what really matters in life.

Source used for re-telling the pebble story with grateful thanks:
http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=264&page=2

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Simple, but true – the most important thing

No matter how busy you are running your successful business, just stop for a moment, take a deep breath and read on…

The most important thing is BEING happy. It’s not about possessions or stuff, or fame and recognition for what you are doing. It’s the JOY of experiencing each new dawn, of being happy to wake up and say YES to the new day, being glad and thankful to be alive, the joy of loving life. It’s going through the day feeling happy and content, moving positively from moment to moment; living a life of rich, happy experiences, helping and serving others, making your unique contribution, whilst enjoying these moments wholeheartedly. Life is about joy and love.

Don’t get caught up in the treadmill, don’t make sacrifices to run your business. Say “no” if you need to. Make sure that when you close your eyes at the end of the day you can be content with what has passed and, in a spirit of trust, look forward to what the next day will bring. As Abraham Hicks puts it: “The standard of success in life isn’t the things. It isn’t the money or the stuff – It is absolutely the amount of joy you feel.”

Be busy but be happy, love Louise

The self-care checklist for entrepreneurs…and everyone else!

I found the following five self-care practices in Robin Sharma’s new book ‘The Saint, the Surfer & the CEO and have condensed them into a blog- friendly checklist ( with my own take on them) here:

1) Shift from complexity to simplicity

Ask yourself each day: How can I make my life simpler? From delegating unloved routine tasks to taking action on something right now, rather than procrastinating, can free us up some precious time to do the really rewarding stuff like speak to customers and definitely decrease stress levels!

2) Keep a daily practice of journaling

In this high- tech world of ours it is still very therapeutic to take out some pen and paper in th form of a notebook or journal and record, without judgement, whatever comes into our head. How did your day go? What are you grateful for? What did you learn today?

3) Make the time to have a ‘ silent retreat’ each day

This is a daily period of peace and can be as simple as closing your office door, transferring your calls to voicemail and savouring the view from your window for five minutes. Time to ‘ check in’ with your inner, wise self. Even some stretching, or just concentrating on your breathing. We can all find five minutes,right?

4) Commune with nature

Take time after work, for example, to have a walk in the woods or stroll on the beach or take your lunch to the local park for a change. Practice mindfullness and listen to the birds. Be one with th force that created you.

5) Nurture your body

Your body really is a temple. Stay as fit as you can. Take the stairs. Make informed choices about what you eat and drink. Have a massage. You deserve it!

Making time each day to do these five practices is a great act of self- care. It all sounds so simple, yet we busy folk often neglect ourselves and fall into the trap of living only for The Business. Even something as simple as baking a cake or a spot of gardening can centre us again and de- stress us.

Let me know what self-care means to you.

Til the next time,

Louise

P.S. Robin Sharma’s book ‘The Saint, The Surfer & the CEO’ is published by HAY HOUSE, 2013.

 

Are you really making honey? – A common business dilemma

You probably all know the term ‘busy bee’ and associate it with people you know who are always on the go, constantly active and living life in the fast lane. In the animal kingdom the bee is a worker, completing a specific task and contributing to the whole. There are measureable and tangible end-products; i.e. the contribution it makes to the environment through pollination and, of course, delicious honey for our morning toast.

If you’re an entrepreneur I suggest you stop and think for a moment. Think about how often you use the word ‘busy’ e.g. “I’ve been really busy this week.”, “I can’t make the meeting, I’m too busy”

When you’re busy, are you really being productive? Are you really ‘making honey’? Is your ‘busy-ness’ having an efficient and effective impact on your “busi-ness”? Or are you getting side-tracked and distracted by the sheer volume of things to do?

If we find ourselves accumulating hours and hours of overtime, it might be because we have refused to delegate some tasks or are conducting time-consuming administrative jobs at peak times of the week, rather than reserving for them for a quieter time, like Friday afternoons. Once you are up-and-running with your enterprise you will get a feeling for which times are ‘quiet’ and when you can afford to allocate space in your schedule to certain regular tasks like invoicing. ‘Schedule’ is the magic word here. Plan your week ahead of time – don’t randomly decide what you are going to do when you enter your office each morning!

The best tip I can give you is not to have your email in-box open when you are doing anything that requires concentration. Incoming emails are a constant distraction. Checking emails apparently gives us an adrenaline shot, that’s why some of us do it every couple of minutes, but it can slow you down considerably when working through your tasks. Opening, reading, deciding if important, deciding to answer later – not to mention the time involved when you finally do answer later – will add hours to your week.

If you want more advice on optimizing your activities I highly recommend the late Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, if you haven’t read it yet. His ‘Time Management Matrix’ is unbeatable, in my opinion.

For a recent take on this subject also check out the following blog post by Vered Neta: http://www.balancedbusinesswomen.com/blog/5-strategies-in-creating-content-without-losing-your-sanity

It contains some great ideas on how to smarten up your act.

Vered also once recommended setting an alarm when using Twitter – another valuable tip along the way!

And now this bee says: “Thanks for reading and good luck with the honey, everybody!”