How To Make The Best Use Of Your Downtime

Have you ever stopped on a Sunday evening and wondered where the weekend has gone? Those 48 hours between Friday and Monday have vanished again without a trace. Have you felt frustrated about going back to work knowing there were things you wanted to do, people you wanted to see and places you wanted to go?

This is a really common situation and it doesn’t just apply weekends. It could be that week’s holiday you booked to catch up on home projects where the time drifted away. If you’re self-employed, it could be those few days waiting between projects where nothing seems to happen.

It’s important to recognise when your body is telling you it’s time to rest, relax and recharge. This is the time where your mind can process everything that’s happened and work through solutions to problems. Have you ever written down something that’s bothering you, gone to bed, and then the answer has presented itself to you the following day? Our minds have the extraordinary ability to solve almost anything with time and patience. Sometimes the more we think about something, the harder it becomes to think clearly. We can’t see the wood for the trees.

Missy lives in the moment, exploring everything as we should be doing in business
Missy lives in the moment, exploring everything as we should be doing in business

Some of the common signs telling us we need to slow down are feeling tired, slow, difficult to think or speak, loss of interest in hobbies, not wanting to see people and, if left untreated, this can start to affect our physical as well as our mental health. So, we can all agree it’s good to have downtime. But how can you make the best use of your downtime?

I’m talking about making the best use of this time, not treating downtime as work or a chore. I hope you will turn your downtime into time you take for yourself. I want to help you feel as though the time has been well-spent and not wasted.

The first step is to know when your downtime is coming. It could be looking forward to the weekend, or it could be a random day off if a client cancels a meeting or if a project is postponed.

The second step is to know what you want to achieve in your downtime. For me, I like to take a break from work to walk my dog, Missy. She enjoys the time we spend together, and I love being out in the fresh air walking in my local park. After our walks I always feel revitalised and ready to take on new tasks.

Another form of downtime for me is helping Mum with her weekly shopping. Before lockdown we would do this together, spending an hour going to the supermarket and then I would help unpack and put the food away afterwards. This usually involved a cup of tea, some biscuits, and a good catch up. Now I carry out the food shop and have the cup of tea and catch up standing outside while she packs things away.

As well as my routine of walking Missy and helping Mum, I have also added some personal projects to my Achievement List of things I would like to do. One of these is to carry out the scanning and filing of many thousands of photographs I’ve taken over the years. From a hard drive filled with random images, I am slowly working through labelling and organising the photographs into categories, holidays, people, and events. This has been on my list of things to do for a long time and it feels good to take the time to put things in order.

The third step is to put this into practice. So, the next time you have a spare half hour, half day, a week, or any period of spare time, have something ready to achieve. You’ll feel better about going back to work if you have achieved something in your downtime. It could be something as simple as making a phone call to a friend, or organising your photographs, or going on that day trip you promised yourself. But make the time to do something for yourself during your downtime and it will pay off in many different ways. You’ll feel re-energised, and ready to take on new tasks.

If you need a boost to help keep yourself relaxed and calm at work or at home, I can recommend the new calming products from Arbonne. These botanically based natural healers offer a truly relaxing experience. As the name suggests, Arbonne’s InnerCalm and SuperCalm remedies are perfect to help you relax from the inside to the outside, taking care of your wellbeing and giving your body the opportunity to become revitalised and ready for new adventures.

For help making the best use of your downtime or to find out more about the relaxing remedies, please book your free 15 minute call. I specialise in helping business owners streamline tasks and processes to free up your time and energy for the things you enjoy the most.

How networking with your dog can help you make new friends and business connections

If you told me I’d be attending networking meetings with Missy, my faithful furry canine friend, this year I don’t know if I’d have believed you. It was the introduction of the lockdown restrictions which forced the change from face to face business networking to the new virtual meetings taking place every day of the week. Now that networking takes place from my home-office, Missy can come to virtual meetings with me.

Missy lives in the moment, exploring everything as we should be doing in business
Missy comes to my networking events

As strange as it sounds, I have a bigger choice of meetings I can attend than ever before. Before the lockdown, travelling to multiple meetings in one day was both cost and time prohibitive. Now instead of spending hours in the car, I can spend more time with Missy and more time working on my business.

If anyone’s happy I’m spending more time at home, it’s Missy. She’s never far from my desk and always attentively looking for signs in my working day. She knows the second I’ve finished with a document and can stop for a tummy rub. She knows if I’m about to make a phone call, and of course, she knows when it’s time for walkies!

This brings me to a top networking tip. Always listen and listen attentively to the person you’re with. You never know where the conversation might lead. A great friend of mine, Stefan Thomas, has a saying that “every big opportunity starts with a little conversation” and this is so true. Dogs are great listeners. They pick up on verbal and non-verbal clues and with practice, we can too.

Another top tip I’ve learnt from Missy is that practice does make perfect. From learning to walk, to clean herself, to bark, to sit, lie down, roll over, offer her paw, Missy has plenty of patience and has learnt her skills to perfection. I only need to head for the coat cupboard and she’s by my side wagging her tail because she knows a walk is imminent.

Missy gives me a great excuse to leave my desk at least once a day for a good hour of exercise around our local park. Being outdoors in the fresh air is good for my health too. While we walk, we often meet other dog walkers and often meet the same dogs and their owners several times a week. We stop and chat and our dogs play together, chatting in their own way with lots of woofs, barks, and tail wagging.

This reminds me of my virtual business networking meetings, where I meet dozens of new people each week along with regular members of each group. Just like Missy, I stop and chat, listen and learn. I’m keen to find out more about each person and their businesses. I also keep an eye out for opportunities where we can perhaps work together and check my contacts to see if I can offer referrals or collaborations.

I’ve founded a new virtual networking group designed to bring dog lovers together from across the country. Whilst chatting about our businesses, our dogs also attend the meetings. With the relaxed, friendly format, some dogs sit on their owner’s lap, others curl up by their owner’s feet. The meetings attract dog owners, dog walkers, dog breeders, dog product manufacturers and even the owners of dog friendly hotels and accommodation.

It’s not essential to have your own dog to be able to come to a dog lovers meeting but lots of dogs do attend with their owners. Missy looks forward to the Friday afternoon meetings. She knows the dogs on screen are real and they are her friends even though she may never meet them in the park. Not everyone has a dog, but everyone is welcome.

If you’d like to come to a Dog Lovers Meeting, they are held every Friday at 2.30pm via Zoom. To receive the welcome message and Zoom link please book your place at https://www.4nonline.biz/book/search?keywords=dog or contact me on 07756 772950 if you’d like to know more.

How Much Have You Changed Your Business This Year?

At the beginning of 2020, the last thing on my mind was a worldwide lockdown. I hadn’t thought about the potential difficulties buying everyday items in the supermarket, or not being able to visit my Mum. Attending networking events and client meetings face to face was cancelled almost overnight. Looking back, could this have been predicted?

Take the dog for a walk - best habit
Spending extra time with Missy is a bonus

After the initial shock, annoyance, anger and panic, things are settling down into the “new normal”. We’re in a world where we can be even more connected than ever before. Instead of travelling to see friends, we can meet virtually, via Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, Houseparty and many different apps. It’s not the same, but it is essential for us as humans to keep in touch with each other.

With travel restrictions, have you needed to work from home? Has this revealed hidden benefits, such as financial savings on fuel, time savings on not travelling, spending more time with family? Have you missed your daily commute? How much have you changed this year?

The lockdown has made me rethink my working day. One of the big changes has been to rethink my networking routine. Instead of attending face to face breakfasts, lunches and evening meetings, I can “teleport” all around the country and abroad. I can meet people virtually, exchange ideas, support and advice. I’m doing business with people I might never have crossed paths with.

Being at home more has given me extra time to spend with my family, including my dog. She thinks it’s great I’m around all day! On Fridays she comes networking with me at a specially themed “Dog Lovers Meeting” which I run as part of the 4Networking Online National (and International) Business Networking Groups. She’s not the only dog there either. Everyone at this themed meeting either has a dog, works with dogs, or just loves dogs! It’s great fun and business happens as people get to know each other in this relaxed, friendly setting.

I’m also involved in the 4N Sunday Sesh (the UK’s first Sunday 4Networking group) for those of us who don’t keep Monday to Friday office hours, and also the 4N NW Group aimed at people in the North West but open to everyone. Each meeting provides the opportunity to meet business owners and decision makers in many different trades and industries.

Perhaps the most exciting new development in my networking world is the launch of 4N Down Under connecting business owners in the UK with business owners in Australia. Imagine the travel time and cost attending a meeting in Australia in person. Yet we can be connected for less than the price of a Hungry Jacks!

These are some of the key changes I’ve implemented in the last few months. I’m spending much more time online in Zoom meetings than ever before. It’s working. I’m still able to speak with my clients and help them with their business strategies and streamlining. I can offer my accountability services virtually to business owners and there are now even more opportunities to promote my work with Arbonne, helping friends, family and clients with botanically based skincare, make-up and nutrition.

If you’d like to find out more about taking your dog networking, my Focus Guru services or just fancy a chat, please give me a call on 07756 772950 or visit www.getfocus.guru.