A few months ago my husband and I spent a lovely week in New York with my niece and her boyfriend, to celebrate her 21st birthday. It was a very happy time and we had a lot of laughs.
One of those laughs was about how often Rachel commented that the Statue of Liberty didn’t appear as large as she thought it would… this as spied in the distance from the Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Centre, or the Empire State Building viewing deck. She’s a bright girl and obviously knows all about distance and perspective, but we did laugh nonetheless.
Then as were queuing to board the ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty, to see close up exactly how big it is, this seagull posed for us at the quayside to illustrate the point perfectly.
I was reminded recently how easy it is to lose perspective, causing me to reflect on 3 simple things I do to help regain a sense of proportion.
1) Take a break and/or do something different for a while
I am sure you are thinking that you just don’t have time for this, but really it could be all that you need when you are losing perspective. It might be as simple as leaving your desk to make and relax with a cup of tea for 15 minutes, taking time out for a short walk, reading a chapter of your book, or even just switching to a different, less taxing work task for a while. Whatever you do, you will almost certainly be able to see things differently when you return to the problem and the increase in productivity will outweigh the time you spent on your break.
As the photo illustrates, things just don’t seem so overwhelming large when you take a step back.
2) Plan, plan, plan
If you feel you have too much on your plate, and are feeling overwhelmed, take the time to prepare a list of everything you need to do, prioritise it and plan when you are going to complete these tasks, and make sure you will not be distracted. It seems a lot less daunting when ordered in a list, than muddled in your mind.
The best way to ensure you don’t let things get out of perspective is to make this a habit, ensuring that if you know what you need to do, you can also cope with the unexpected. Complete your list of prioritised tasks every evening, as the last thing you do before you switch off your PC, so that you can also switch off your mental work list and let your mind take a break overnight.
I like to put my list in a calendar entry that pings at me at 8.00 am every morning, so that I start the day with focus, and view my workload with appropriate perspective.
3) Find a mentor, or business buddy
Small business owners often work for long periods in isolation, and as we don’t always have someone on hand who we can share our concerns with, they can sometimes blow out of proportion.
So if you don’t have a business mentor, then why not buddy up with another small business owner so that you have someone to call on when you just need to talk and to hear another point of view? Since I started in business I have been lucky enough to find a couple of people who have really helped me in this way.
Many small business owners find an unexpected benefit of working with a business manager is that they have a sounding board in someone who also cares about and understands their business, but who has enough distance to bring a different perspective.
And, in case you are wondering, Rachel confirmed that the Statue of Liberty is absolutely enormous close up, and we laughingly named this photo ‘A lesson in perspective’.