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Wyoming Business Tips for Nov. 30-Dec. 6

November 24, 2014

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By guest columnist Wendy Gauntner, from the Wyoming Entrepreneur SBDC business fitness webinar presentation, “De-Stress for Business Success: Business Tips for the Holidays and Beyond”

“Do you have any last-minute tips for time management during the busy holiday season?” Kate, Gillette

As year-end approaches, our already busy schedules can morph into unmanageable beasts that need to be tamed.

We become overwhelmed with end-of-year budgets, increased business stress and numerous family obligations, which may require a rousing game of “Dysfunctional Family Bingo” to keep us sane. If you find this time of year to be more stressful than usual, you are not alone. Here are some practical tips to keep your life and business under control amid the hustle and bustle:

-- “Stop, drop and scan.” When we are constantly overrun with to-do lists, last-minute requests, electronics and other life obligations, our bodies -- wired to overreact through the stress response -- trigger a physiological response by increasing our heart rate, tightening our stomachs, restricting our breathing and releasing chemicals that disrupt clear thinking. Unfortunately, these automatic responses are so quick that we fail to realize how stressed we are until our bodies start to break down and we become sick.

To counteract the automatic stress response, train yourself to check in with your body several times a day. Set a reminder on your cell phone or put it on your schedule. You also can do this standing in line at the grocery store, sitting at your desk or commuting in traffic: Take a deep breath, momentarily clear your mind and scan your body from feet to crown. Go as slowly as you can and notice how each part of you feels. Where are you holding tension? What does it feel like?

The simple act of taking a deep breath engages your parasympathetic nervous system, the part of your brain responsible for calm.

-- “Evaluate your to-do list.” Make a list of all the personal and professional items you need to get done in the near future. Now, write down three goals you have for this busy season. Is your goal to get that budget done before it is due? Spend every Sunday with your family?

Write your three goals down. From a place of complete honesty and an awareness of your goals, review your list.

First, you’ll want to cross off anything that does not support your current intentions or that can be scrapped. Second, you will want to delegate anything that unnecessarily takes up your time and can be performed by someone else. It’s very freeing to hand over those little tasks that seem easier to do yourself, but aren’t. Third, there are things that have to be done but aren’t fun. Consider making tasks like a root canal or Christmas shopping better by pairing them with something that feels like comfort or fun.

-- “Create a power hour.” Morning is usually the best time for productivity and creativity. Make progress on large projects by blocking off an hour and setting an old-fashioned timer (using your phone may lead to checking email, social media or playing games). Set the timer for increments of 20 minutes. Work diligently on one project for 20 minutes, then another for the next 20, and another for the final 20 minutes. By doing this each morning, your projects will be completed with ease and in a timely fashion.

-- “Rest and play.” It’s no secret that our brains are designed to work only with laser-beam focus in short shifts. Every hour or so, as you start to wane, get up and stretch, take a walk or get a healthy snack that fuels your body. Little breaks and nutrition help to power us through busy days.

Getting enough sleep (6-8 hours a night) is imperative because when you rest, your body is working harder than you might imagine. Throughout the sleep cycle, your body systematically heals itself, files short-term items into long-term memory, flushes out the brain and actively solves problems. Who knew resting was so productive?

Lastly, don’t forget the value of play. Taking the time to do something creative like drawing or playing with young ones is just as productive as sleeping. Most of the time, we operate from the analytical side of our brain but, as we play, watch funny You Tube videos or engage in drawing or playing an instrument, our brain literally shifts and problems or situations suddenly strike us differently.

If you are stuck on something, let it be, take a walk or listen to music. Often, the less we force the answer, the more the answer will find us. In fact, the more we let go of lists and expectations in life, the more rewarding and productive we are overall.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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