Mind Body Business – Managing Decision Fatigue

I’ve been reading a few articles lately about the mental load of housework, which certainly resonates (why do I need to always carry around, in my brain, the level of olive oil in my pantry?). It resonates even more as a business owner, where the mental load can sometimes be overwhelming.  Over the past 22 years of running my own business, one thing that I have suffered from occasionally is decision fatigue; literally being tired of making decisions.  But, that is one of the key roles of a business owner, and one of the key reasons why we want to run our own business – so that we can make choices and decisions about the creation, management, and growth of our businesses.

As a business owner I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to make these choices and decisions, it’s one of the best parts of working for myself.  But, that privilege carries a price, and when we are tired, stressed, or reactive, decision fatigue can obstruct the flow of our businesses.  In this post I hope to offer you a few ideas how you can manage decision fatigue, so that you and your mind-body business can thrive.

When we are overwhelmed with managing today’s business, it can be hard to find the energy to make decisions to create tomorrow’s business.

For movement teachers who run their own business/teaching practice, you make decisions daily on many fronts; as an instructor (sequencing, theming, cuing, etc), as a manager (class timing, policies and procedures, employee management), and as an entrepreneur (advertising, marketing, networking, social media, etc).  Whether you are a yoga teacher with a few classes a week, or running a large studio operation, the sheer quantity of decisions you have to make every day can sometimes be crushing.

I’ll admit that I don’t always notice straight away when decision fatigue is creeping in. It shows up in sneaky ways, like in delaying setting new dates for courses, procrastinating on a new ad or article, or at home in not being able to decide what to have for lunch or where to plant something new in the garden.  But, these little procrastinations start to add up until there is more on the back burner than the front burner, and that’s when business can start to suffer

So, what do I do to manage decision fatigue?  I don’t always have the answers (to anything!) but here are a few things that I have found helpful over the years:

Plan for planning:

Particularly when it comes to my yearly teaching calendar, I set aside a planning period when I have lots of time and space.  I try not to do this key planning while in the midst of a busy teaching period or when I have a lot of other activities going on.  I need to feel out my calendar as much as I need to think it out.  Intelligence is important in making decisions, but so is intuition, and for me, my intuition works best when I have some time and space to listen, observe, feel, and then create.   So, step one for me is scheduling a time for making plans.  Setting aside a few days where I can gather ideas and opportunities together, sit with my thoughts and the logistics, feel it out, and then make some intelligent, intuitive choices.  My choices aren’t always ‘right’, but forecasting is always better when it’s coming from a place of contemplation rather than urgency.

Who, What, Why:

The foundation of the Mind Body Business program that I’m (slowly but surely) currently writing is Who, What, and Why.  The 3 W’s have helped me time and again over the years in making decisions about what courses to teach and when, whether to say yes or no to a new opportunity, or whether to stick out a contract or let it go.  When making decisions I ask myself three questions:

Who – who am I as a teacher, who am I offering this opportunity to, who will benefit?

What – what am I offering (a workshop, article, online course) what is my role, what is the benefit?

Why – why am I creating this, why is there a need, why would people choose to undertake this?

Asking yourself the Who, What and Why can help you get clear on saying yes or no to opportunities, to creating new classes or workshops on your schedule, and to confidently marketing and networking for your business.

Ask for Guidance:

You don’t have to make decisions alone, in fact, it’s best not to.   As movement teachers our focus is on our students, so when we are making choices about the direction of the business, it can be really helpful to ask for guidance from those who will be most impacted by our decisions – our students.  Doing regular surveys on class times, styles, workshops or events, and business policies can give you vital input that can help you make clear and confident choices that can help your business and your student community thrive.  If you employ other teachers, involve them in the decision-making process.  Ultimately you are responsible for the direction on your business, but gathering insight, observations, preferences, and ideas from those who work in your business can not only help in making choices for business direction, but allows employees a say – which research indicates is key to happiness, productivity, and employee-retention.

So, if you run your own mind-body business and you have been putting off making some key decisions about teaching, managing, or promoting your business, I hope that these ideas will help you get some clarity and support to make those daily choices and decisions, plus help get some of your great ideas out of the planning stages and into production.

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