For a lot of us in the decorated apparel industry, there is an overwhelming avalanche of work to do every day. You complete one task, and in a matter of mere minutes, four or five more are added to the pile.
You know what I’m talking about.
It never ends. Sooner or later your enthusiasm for this business and your role in it wanes. It’s like an energy vampire is sucking the lifeblood out of you just thinking about that pile of screens that need to be reclaimed, or another 5k .jpg art file redrawn.
In the movies, vampires can be defeated with some sort of concoction of garlic, crosses, wooden stakes and holy water. Especially if your name is Buffy.
This article is all about kicking that vampire’s butt and reclaiming your energy and mojo with your job.
Stress = Energy Vampire
Do we have stress in this industry?
Are you kidding? Stress is the norm. It’s how you deal with it that matters.
The first thing I want you to do is to name your stress. You have to identify it. Say it out loud. I’m not kidding.
Well, for starters once you have outed that stress point, you can work up an action plan to deal with it.
Stress comes in many forms. It could be a task you hate to do, like accounting. Maybe it’s dealing with an employee problem. Cash flow. Craftsmanship. Sometimes it the pressing need to finish fifteen things at once.
You need to get these out in the open. Quit dealing with them internally. Start seeking relief by developing a plan to handle whatever is stressful for you in a positive way.
Stress Action Plan
After you have named the stress, start a list of the causes of what is making the situation stressful for you.
For example, let’s say it is a cash flow problem. You are really busy, and because of that there is a lot of money out with buying goods, paying employees and expenses…but the money coming back isn’t returning fast enough.
The answer could be in how you take jobs at order entry.
Instead of offering terms like Net 30 or a 50/50 payment plan, move to have the orders come in with 100% payment upfront. This is a growing trend in the industry and one that is making a significant difference to the cash flow situation for many shops.
Don’t think you can do it?
Remember, what you got you into this situation isn’t going to be the way out of it. You have to do something differently.
A policy change, or even a new set of customers could be the solution. What is important here is that you uncover the action plan to eliminate the stress.
Another great step is to admit that you don’t have all of the answers.
I know, you want to be in control and it’s a pride thing. However, talking it out with a friend, colleague, or a coach (like me), can help you get a different perspective.
If all you know is your experience, why not look for a different viewpoint? In fact, just talking about the situation with someone that can actively listen can do wonders for your mental state.
That’s the beauty of conversation. Just getting it out.
One tip that always works is that you don’t have to do everything. Yes, I know you like to proudly wear that superhero cape and “be in charge”.
“Nobody can do it as I can.”
Well, that may be true, but the biggest enemy in your business is time. There are only so many hours in the day, which is why a lot of entrepreneurs in this industry work a dozen or more hours a day. Doing everything.
Sooner or later burn out sets in.
You’ve heard the phrase “you need to work on your business and not in your business” in order to grow, right?
Delegation means getting someone else to do the things that you don’t have time for, don’t like to do, or really aren’t even good at doing. Offload that sucker to someone else.
Just thinking about it makes you feel a little better.
But before you hand someone a time bomb, make sure they understand the expectations, how to actually to do the work, and what success should look like. Check in on them occasionally just to make sure everything is ok.
Power in People
One thing that I know that is true is that this industry is full of rock stars. Not in the sense that they can fill a stadium full of people with their music, (although some probably can), but in the fact that they bring incredible knowledge, joy, and enthusiasm to our world.
You have to have people in your life like that. Especially where you work.
So, the question that I want to ask here is who is on your team? Are you surrounding yourself with your own version of local rock stars to work with on a daily basis?
Or, are you trying to find the lowest wage person that will accept the job? What mojo is that person bringing to your team? Probably not much.
Want a great work culture that is built to slay energy draining vampires every day? That’s not going to happen at minimum wage.
Sorry Mr. Cheapo.
Can you imagine the company you could build with the best people in your area working for you?
The Price You Pay
The price for eliminating those energy vampires is about 20%-30% above the norm for those positions in your area. That little extra bit of garlic on the paycheck is what does it.
Regardless of your or anyone else’s policy on not disclosing pay, word gets out.
Yes, I’m completely aware of the fact that labor and salaries are the biggest expense in any business. However, better employees do better work. Things get handled faster. Quality goes up. Customer satisfaction increases.
At the end of the day it will be worth it when that momentum shift accelerates your business to the next level due to the increased quality of the people in your business.
Think about that.
With the worries of running your shop, it is extremely easy to overlook what’s happening to your body health-wise. As an adult, you know better.
But that doesn’t stop you from shoveling another fast food burger down your throat at lunch or not taking care of your body with the right amount of sleep or exercise. It’s simply easier to kick that can down the road.
“I’ll do better tomorrow. I won’t worry about it today.”
A few months or a year or so later, nothing ever changed. That extra few pounds of weight is now over twenty. You feel run down and abused.
That energy vampire is on the job full-time now.
Your body needs adequate time to heal, recharge, and get ready for the next day. Sleep what your body needs.
Are you getting enough?
For me, my body is programmed to wake up around 5:20 am every day. Sleeping in means I’m laying in bed to about 6:00 am or so. I’ve always been a morning person. Which means I can’t stay up all night. To function the following day I need at least six hours of sleep, but seven is better.
How do you know if you are getting enough sleep? Easy answer: If you feel awake and energetic throughout the day. Are you mentally alert? Primed for action?
The Best Sleep
If not, you may want to consider altering your sleep habits to increase your daily functionality. Your body needs to get to deep sleep, or REM sleep mode as that’s when it does the best job of preparing your body for the next day.
You can ensure you get better sleep by avoiding nicotine, alcohol, and being awakened by bright lights or noise during the night.
Food to Fight the Energy Vampire
Food. My favorite subject. I don’t know about you, but I consider myself a food expert. But, I sometimes wolf down the wrong food and pay the price for it.
If you need better energy throughout the day, your diet can impact that tremendously. The food you consume is the fuel your body runs on.
How good is the fuel that you are putting into your gas tank?
Fuel for You
If you want to fight off some stress and get an energy boost, here is a list of some foods that could help you:
- Water – are you drinking enough? Dehydration can leave you slow and sluggish. Yep, have another glass right now.
- Strawberries – besides helping fight inflammation in the body, the antioxidants in strawberries may help fight fatigue and give you energy
- Spinach – rich in folic acid and soluble fiber
- Wild Salmon – rich in omega 3 fats and vitamin D
- Blackberries – rich is soluble fiber, omega 3 fats, and folic acid
- Skim Milk – rich is vitamin D and B12
- Bananas – an excellent source of carbohydrates, potassium, and vitamin B6
- Ground flaxseeds – rich is soluble fiber, omega 3 fats, and folic acid
- Brown Rice – a great source of fiber and has a low glycemic index
- Omega 3 Fortified Eggs – rich is omega 3 fats, vitamin D and B12
- Apples – due to their rich content of sugars and fiber, apples can provide a slow and steady energy release
- Soybeans – rich is soluble fiber, folic acid, and omega 3 fats
- Brussels Sprouts – soluble fiber and folic acid
- Avocados – rich is healthy fats and fiber
- Beans – rich is soluble fiber and folic acid
- Oranges – high in vitamin C, they also contain antioxidant compounds that can provide protection from oxidative stress.
- Sardines – rich is omega 3 fats and vitamin D
Want more energy? Eat better. Just like your mama told you to. She’s right you know.
While our industry is certainly a physical one, the fact remains that not everyone gets in a good daily dose of exercise.
I certainly need to exercise more.
Studies have long explained how when regular exercise is part of a person’s daily routine the available mental firepower increases.
Exercise leads to better moods, which can affect interpersonal communication. Does your job depend on you talking to people? I’ll bet it does.
This is why the benefits of a regular, habitual exercise routine can increase your:
- Learning potential
- Prolonged mental stamina
- Ability to lower stress
So, get out there and break a sweat!
Wrapping It All Up
Everyone and every situation is different. There isn’t one tried and true way to kill that energy vampire.
But one thing is for sure. If you don’t make a change, you’ll find yourself in a more dire situation as time goes on. Work suffers. Things get missed. More problems arise. Opportunities are overlooked.
Take control of your energy vampire situation. Here are seven steps for you to consider:
- Identify your stress – name it!
- Talk to someone – ask for help!
- Delegate the challenge – you don’t have to do it!
- Hire better people – surround yourself with the best!
- Get more sleep – you need it!
- Eat better – look at the fuel you use!
- Exercise – stay sharp and focused!
“In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.” – Lee Iacocca
“When you show deep empathy towards others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” – Stephen Covey
“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” – Teddy Roosevelt