You’re a Solopreneur. But Are You a Good Boss?

Post by Heather Rees for the Kindness in Business series.


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Entrepreneurs and business owners are notoriously atrocious at taking care of themselves. As we grind toward our ever elusive goal of “success” we put aside our present well-being in favor of a future promise of something greater. 


We sit at our desks tip-tapping away at the keys for long hours or running frantically from one activity to the next – or ping ponging between the two all week long. We do this from sun up to sun down and after a while, we just can’t go on. We must stop.
And so, like race car drivers on a track, we pull into a pit stop to make adjustments, fill the tank and go. We give ourselves the needed refueling all for the purpose of gunning the engine at the next opportunity and keep going – fast.

Instead of tire rotators, engine inspectors and gas refuelers we hire massage therapists, acupuncturists, head shrinks and a bevy of ladies at the nail salon to do the job for us. Once the paint is dried (sometimes even before!) and we feel just this side of rejuvenated, we’re back to work and at it again.

Now imagine that instead of working for yourself, you work for an employer. And imagine that the employer treated you like this race car driver – pushing you to your breaking point only to provide last minute relief just long enough to get you ready to go again. On and on this went: Racing forward, pushing hard, stopping only for temporary checks and adjustments.

Would you last long there? Probably not. Why? Because this is not kind. This is not humane.

You would rebel against it. Resent it. Complain about it to your friends as you guzzled wine to round the edges. And you would be planning your escape.

So why is it ok for entrepreneurs and business owners to treat ourselves this way?

Plainly, it’s not.

Let’s decide right now – right now – to stop being unkind. The future is not guaranteed and it is important to treat yourself well today.

There is no need to swing into dramatics to begin the practice of kindness to ourselves. No need to move to a village in Tahiti to make grass baskets. The most profound kindness is often found in the small gestures.

So, in like form, think small. Think in manageable chunks.

Below are a few ways you can adjust your environment, your attitude and your workflow to shift yourself toward kindness:


Environment

1. Lighting

Good lighting is incredibly important for regulating your mood. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and general irritability. Why do that to yourself? Open the windows. Buy a lamp. Change the overhead fixture so it diffuses light in a way that pleases you.

2. Room temperature
Studies have shown that while most office environments keep the room temperature between 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit, we are actually more at ease and more productive when it’s between 70-73 degrees. So, warm it up, love! In the warmer months, open the doors and windows to let fresh air in, too.

3. Aromatherapy
Scents have long been known to illicit immediate reaction and mood changes. You can use this to your advantage by keeping essential oils, scented candles or incense in your office. If you work around other people, carry a handkerchief or cotton balls to dab essential oil onto and smell throughout the day.

Lavender – helps to relax and distress
Peppermint – used as an energizer general mood booster
Citrus (any) – makes you more alert and lifts the mood


Attitude

1. See Beauty
Look up right now and find 3 beautiful things in front of you. Even if you’re in a cloth-covered cubicle beneath fluorescent lights, there are magnificent things before you: the color of your nail polish, the face of a loved one pinned to your wall, the highlights in your colleague’s hair.

See them, and really see them. Take several moments to appreciate. This practice shifts the brain from feeling retracted and tense to soft and more appreciative.

2. Stand Up and Stretch
If you start to feel stressed or tense, just stand up. Move your limbs. Stretch from side to side. Roll your neck. Movement moves the blood and sends new oxygen to previously stagnant areas of your body. What moves the body moves your mind.

3. Self Massage
If standing up and stretching or moving is out of the question, give yourself a 1-minute shoulder and neck massage. Massage your hands, calves and lower back. As you do it breath deeply and let the oxygen move the toxins out and fresh air and blood in.


Workflow

1. Tidy Up
Keeping your work space clean and clutter-free isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when many people think of kindness, but know this: Tidiness is kind to your brain. When things aren’t lying about they aren’t distracting us. Being kind is also removing distraction and obstacles from a free and easy flow.

2. Work Intervals
Our brains aren’t designed to stay focused for 8+ hours a day. In fact, lots of people suggest working in 25 minute intervals. The Pomodoro Technique is one of the most popular methods to enhancing concentration by giving breaks after every interval. Those 5 minutes might be the kindest, most important, thing you do for yourself all day.

3. Chunked Time
When you plan your day, plan how long you’ll spend on each task and chunk it together. If you’re juggling multiple projects or priorities, give each task at least an hour of uninterrupted time. It’s less stressful and more likely to aid you in completing the task quickly and with minimal drama. Now that’s kind.

So whether it is through your environment, your attitude, or your workflow (or all three!) lean into kindness. Because in the end, we all like working for nice bosses.

Heather Rees is a career coach and creative startup strategist. Drawing on a varied career and experience with dozens of startups, Heather helps clients craft the career that they want most by finding the common thread that ties your career together and/or start a side gig. Download Top 10 Career Fears or join her career group on Facebook.

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