Everyday Challenges – Bridianne O’Dea on ‘Time Poor’

Nick Schiavuzzi

Presented by St.George Kick Start. We’ve teamed up with our partner St George to share new ideas from our alumni speakers, helping you to overcome the key business challenges that you face every day.

The term ‘business owner’ is deceptive in its simplicity. If you dig just below the surface of what that title involves, you’ll quickly find included in that description are all manner of hats that business owners are required to wear daily. Leader, mentor, counsellor, financial planner, confidante, strategist, problem-solver, to name only a few.

Being all things to all people in your business takes time, and the constant changing of hats can leave business owners rich in experience, but time poor. The perception of being time poor can negatively impact our thinking, our mood, our productivity and can create a culture of anxiety and that flows from business owners through to their employees.

However, it might be time to realise you’re not out of time. Help is at hand. Literally. And it’s been there the whole time.

Mental health and digital technology researcher, Bridianne O’Dea of the Black Dog Institute, says that the same mobile technology that keeps you connected constantly to your business is the exact same technology that you can utilize in order to mitigate and manage the stresses of running a multi-faceted business on the go.

As the thinking goes, a happy business is a productive business. For business owners, there is therefore genuine time capital to be gained in investing in their own mental health, and therefore, the mental health of their employees.

“Consistently, research shows… having a healthy workplace and a job that you like going to, brings a lot of meaning to a person’s life”, says O’Dea. This has direct implications for business owners who depend on their staff to deliver in a timely manner. While anxiety, stress and feeling overawed can negatively impact the delivery of products and services, having a happy business is the best defence against this.

O’Dea says that with a healthy mind, people are more likely to be able to cope with those stresses, they are able to multi-task more effectively and businesses become more productive, as a whole.

As with any endeavour though, creating a culture of calm efficiency starts at the top, with business owners, and is built on a foundation of communication.

While she sees a lot of insights around individual mental health solutions, O’Dea feels there is real currency in business owners investing in their own mental health, as this will feed the culture of the business moving forward.

She says, “Organisational strategies are more powerful than individual strategies. When it comes to the role of technology in the workplace and workplace mental health, we really need the organizations to acknowledge that and put in place strategies that will reduce [anxiety].”

This is because in the context of a workplace, business owners who implement these strategies can get themselves in the right frame of mind to face the challenges at hand, and then get their employees on the same page. All for one, one for all.

Importantly though, she notes that business owners need to find the right time management expectations and mental health solutions for their particular business.

“Every team in every organisation works differently. So first and foremost, having team conversations around what are everyone’s expectations, and what you feel is achievable around interaction and technology and getting the work done. And this is around things like working from home, what times of day you schedule meetings… so understanding your team’s needs is going to be the first place to start.”

Using digital technology to achieve these mental health and productivity outcomes need not be overly complicated. Simple communication across those digital platforms can have a huge impact on the mood and energy of your business. While digital technology can be a double edged sword at times in terms of creating anxiety, O’Dea says that it provides a previously unavailable avenue of communication.

“Technology has made the workplace more efficient,” she says. “Often technology does allow people to reallocate their work across their day more appropriately. They are able to do more at work because they can answer emails on the go, they can contact people in a variety of different ways.”

Using your smart phone to manage your day may seem simple enough. But the lesson here is very much around the human communication at the heart of that digital technology. The value of communicating clearly to the people in your business the expectations around timeframes and the achievement of tasks cannot be underestimated.

As a business owner, this will give you a sense of control over the fate of your business and this will contribute to the overall wellbeing of your business and the people in it. The importance of a happy workplace is key to its ongoing productivity and efficiency.

So if business owners are feeling short on time, low on the required energy to manage that time, maybe it’s time to harness the communicative power of your smart phone to create a culture of open dialogue in your business.


This content is proudly brought to you by St.George Business Bank.

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