stress and balance for contractors

Being a skilled tradesperson and working with your hands to produce something unique can be rewarding and enjoyable. But, for many of us in the trades, working with one’s tools is usually only a part of one’s duties — whether working for someone or self-employed.

Creating designs, making estimates, performing and managing the work, collecting money, paying bills and keeping customers happy are just a few of the many responsibilities that the typical pro will deal with on a day-to-day basis.

While you may love what you do and it may bring you lots of satisfaction, it can also be mighty stressful at times. Working will your tools already puts your body under stress, but juggling a bunch of other tasks can lead to excessive stress, which can reduce job satisfaction and performance and even contribute to health concerns. Stress can also lead to hostility when interfacing with your team, co-workers or customers. Sound familiar?

Over the years, there are many things that we have learned that can help manage stress and keep you — and others around you — happy and healthy.

First, make a plan and follow it — whether it relates to sales, production, business growth — or all three. Think about it.  Isn’t it a whole lot easier to build a project with a good set of plans? Everyone involved — employees, subs and the customer — know what to expect. Well, the same holds true for your job and your business.

Next, manage expectations — for yourself, your team and your customers. In general, your best defense is a strong offense. Under-commit and overproduce! So, if you think you can knock out a project in three weeks, tell the customer it will take four weeks and make them happy by finishing early — or, at least on time, if the job has a hiccup.

Share photos and product samples — or better yet, invite customers to visit previous jobs to have a look at the “level of quality” that they can expect from you.

Add some zen. A little balance can go a long way in eliminating stress. Hard as it may be, try to leave work at work and spend off-hours with family and friends doing things that bring you pleasure. Cliché as it may sound, there really is something to regular exercise and good nutrition. Exercise is a great way to blow off steam. Keeping your body fit and well-fueled will keep stress hormones low and boost “happy hormones.”

Finally, nothing can cause heartburn or an ulcer faster than by allowing a little hiccup to become a major catastrophe. Protect your health and that of your coworkers and customers by dealing with problems promptly and decisively.

And remember, there is simply no substitute for good communication. Always have an “open door” policy and encourage everyone to share thoughts, ideas, and concerns regularly.

Don’t worry, be happy!

About The Author James Carey

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