Celebration is in the air. The economy is picking up steam, and small business owners are feeling more optimistic than they have since 2007. Don’t waste the moment.
As 2016 approaches, it’s the perfect time to rethink your priorities and plan for how to make your business and your personal life even stronger in the months ahead. Here are seven New Year’s resolutions and small business tips owners should consider:
1. Resolve to do something you truly love. We spend nearly half our waking hours working, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — and some business owners surely spend more than that. That’s too much time to be stuck doing work you don’t enjoy or worse, feels meaningless. Spend a little time this holiday season thinking about what type of work satisfies you the most and make concrete plans for how you’ll do it in 2016.
2. Stop sacrificing your personal time. Small business owners are notoriously bad at achieving work-life balance. This lack of balance can lead to a range of problems, from stress to health problems to an unsatisfactory personal life. Remember the basics of a happy and healthy life: Get eight hours of sleep a night. Learn to unplug your life for extended periods of time. In fact, maybe leave your smartphone and iPad at home next time you go on vacation.
3. Improve your time-management skills. This could probably be on everybody’s to-do list every year. But, truth: How efficiently and effectively you spend your working hours directly affects how much time you have to spend with the people you love or doing the activities you love. We’ve learned a lot about how to be more productive at work recently. Write to-do lists every day; block out time-sucking distractions like Facebook from your workday; maximize the morning hours and don’t check your email every five minutes. Here’s a list of 15 time-management apps and tools that could help, courtesy of Lifehack.
4. Appreciate more. Business people need to have a positive outlook on life if they are going to succeed. Why? People are not going to want to work for you — or with you — if you are unpleasant to be around. Promise yourself that you will spend at least some time each day contemplating what is going right and what you are grateful for. And try to spread that goodwill by making sure to say thanks to others every day. (Some business owners do this every morning to start off their day on the right foot.)
5. Get organized. Cutting clutter out of your life can give you clarity. As the new year starts — or 2015 ends — use this time to focus on organizing your business. That may mean cleaning out your email inbox or organizing paperwork and buying new file cabinets.
6. Make more, stronger connections. Networking and making new connections is a vital part of most business owners' lives. But it can take a backseat when life gets busy. Consider how to work networking into your work life more effectively. Perhaps commit to going to three conferences over the course of the year or grabbing coffee with one person every week. Email can be your friend when it comes to networking. Keep in touch with valuable connections by setting a reminder on your calendar to send a brief email to reconnect with people you haven't spoken with in a while.
7. Get healthier. Your physical health is perhaps the most valuable thing you have as a business owner. Ignoring it can lead to costly health problems. Make sure to fit time for fitness into your busy schedule. Consider buying a wearable fitness band or fitness tracker that can help motivate you to work out more often. (A 2013 study by Harvard Medical School researchers shows that exercise leads to better memory, concentration and mental sharpness.) Write out weekly meal plans to ensure you’re eating right.
Whatever your goals, make 2016 the year you achieve them. Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship