Over the coming months, Dance Informa will offer some strategies to manage positive wellbeing whilst also navigating the demands of running a dance studio and family. In this first installment, we uncover the downside of overwork and how to find the time to pause on even your busiest days.
When you work from a place of passion and possibility, opportunities seem to be everywhere. We’re constantly striving to be better and bigger, or maybe even just working through the daily battles that business ownership can bring. To this, we add our own high expectations, holding ourselves to a much higher standard than we would ever expect from others. Checklists, ideas, emails, phone calls, Facebook ads, teacher replacements, “one more thing” to do before lunch, dinner, bed. There is always something to do, always one more thing.
We think to ourselves, we’ll rest when it’s done, when the list is cleared. But the list is never cleared. So let’s give up trying to achieve the impossible and instead rather embrace the idea of Pause. Let’s celebrate the benefits of rest and be at peace with the fact that one more thing may remain unchecked a little longer.
It’s okay to have a break. In fact, it’s more than okay; it’s essential.
I don’t have to tell you owning a business is hard work. If it was easy, more people would do it. Entrepreneurs are a rare breed, often described as “workaholics” by confused onlookers. In fact, serial entrepreneur Lori Greiner describes us accurately: “Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week for themselves to avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else.”
Our work pushes us rather than us pushing it. It’s harder to stop work than to keep working; there are so many ideas, so much to do, so much to strive for, so much to achieve. We have a sense of urgency that can be frenetic, but if left unsupervised ends up feeding off other important areas in our life, sometimes leaving nothing more than a shell of the person we were, or could be. It is essential that we develop the self discipline to hit the Pause button ourselves, for if we do not, life most likely will.
If the threat of burnout or breakdown aren’t convincing enough, here are my top three arguments for why you should factor pauses, big and small, into daily dance studio owner life.
#1. Reduced effectiveness
Working too much might check off the boxes on your To Do list, but working too many hours means you are likely taking double the time to do tasks and doing them only half as well. Jack Nevison, founder of New Leaf Project Management, found that if you push past 50 working hours in a week, that there is no productivity gained for the extra hours. One of his studies found that 50 hours on the job only produced 37 hours of useful work. You’d be far better off taking 13 hours to rest and sleep.
#2. Reduced emotional intelligence and increased conflict
Fatigue creates problems that wouldn’t otherwise exist. When you’re tired, ask yourself if you’re making good decisions. Are you seeking out or creating problems and conflicts? Are you starting arguments? Are you huffing and puffing about everything that is going wrong? Is the lens with which you view the world tainted by the fatigue? If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, that’s reason enough to Pause. You’re probably creating more work by fuelling avoidable conflicts, but worse yet, creating cracks and fracturing relationships, possibly even causing unnecessary hurt to yourself and to others.
#3. Reduced joy
Your “why” is an important motivator, and while it’s a strong force, pulling us the way the moon does the tide, burnout is a stronger force yet. Sustained overworking without time for rest, recreation and sleep will kill your joy. All that work, and no joy? No thank you! Studio owners have opportunities to make positive and lasting impacts in the lives of their students and their employees daily, but for it to be that, it must be born from a place of energy, enthusiasm and joy. Perhaps you’ve met a burnout teacher or studio owner. Consider what emotion they project. Resentment, negativity and an overarching sadness of a legacy lost in the trenches of overwork can be avoided. You are in control, but you must first acknowledge that it’s quick and easy to slip down the slope and slower and harder to climb up from the ditch. Pause to protect your legacy, and pause to keep hold of your joy.
How you embrace a Pause in your life is as individual as you. Pauses come in various shapes and sizes, and it’s important you find something that fits your needs. Here are some I’ve learnt to weave into my life.
It is on our busiest days that we need to pause the most. Meditation is certainly on trend, but for me, it works. Simply taking five minutes out of my day to really let the day and the busy world around me stop. To hear my breath, to hear my heart. To remind myself I am living, to remind myself I am human, and I am not a machine. I always more aligned with who I truly am after taking 10 minutes out. The process brings a sense of calm, clarity and contentment. A couple of apps you could try are Headspace, Smiling Mind and Calm. Of course, if meditation isn’t for you, try a nap instead. I’m also a huge fan of a nap, even just the idea of knowing on really long days that I can sneak in a 20-minute nap in the car or in my office, or at home is helpful to me. Naps are not indulgences but sometimes an essential and gentle Pause amongst the rush, and best of all, there’s no app needed.
I’m a fan of rituals because they make me feel centred and organised. For my family, generally speaking Sunday is our day of Pause. Regardless of the day you choose, none of us are so busy that we are not entitled to at least one day a week when we rest. A day when we remember there’s more to life than our all-consuming, ever-demanding business. A day when we enjoy life with family and friends, a day when we choose how to spend our time, whether that’s exercising, sleeping, eating or being entertained. The weekly Pause is a day we can rest and reset in an effort to recuperate our body, our mind and our soul.
The monthly pause is my weak link. Often, months can slide on by without me realising it, and I find I have failed to Pause. All of a sudden, I feel easily annoyed, tired or just have a need to be alone. Scheduling a little self-care each month is an ideal way to take time to Pause. What do you need from life that keeps getting pushed to the end of the to-do list? Massage, haircut, mani or pedi? Maybe a counselling or therapy session? Do something once a month that invests back into you, something that is just for you.
It is during my yearly pause I “find” myself the most. I rediscover who I am without the clock chasing me. In her book, Pause, Danielle Marchant writes, “The Pause is a time to gently unravel”, and I seek to unravel every summer. I choose not to run holiday classes or workshops at my studio. Rather, I unwind, I read, I sleep, I play with my kids, I cook, I eat. And I return, refreshed, ready, re-created for a new year. Even the thought of my yearly pause is enough to help me relax and continue through the more demanding seasons. Because I know it is coming, I look forward to it. Quite often, the anticipation is almost as good as the reality.
Running a dance studio will always be a busy life but it is one we can navigate successfully, if we choose. We have the power to bring ourselves underdone through the choices we make, and we have the agency to take back control by intentionally focusing on creating Pauses throughout our days, weeks, months and years and celebrating the many benefits they can bring to us and those around us.
By Jane Grech of Jane Grech Dance Centre.
Jane Grech is the Founder and Director of JG Creative, a South Australian company which operates Jane Grech Dance Centre, Pirouettes Dancewear and Adelaide Institute of Vocational Dance. An empowering leader, Jane’s businesses thrive from the power of a positive culture by design. Working with vision, her teams are a united and determined force. By embracing and enjoying challenges and celebrating success through having fun, her people are not only personally and professionally fulfilled, but her businesses greatest strength.
Jane is the creator and founder of DanceStep, a unique training program that works in partnership with dance schools around the world to offer Assistant Teacher Training programs. Through her work Jane is empowering studio owners to grow young leaders who give back to their studio communities.
Jane is an author and speaker on the topics of dance education, entrepreneurship and leadership. Passionate about encouraging, supporting and inspiring others Jane writes articles for Dance Informa Magazine and at her own blog, Dance Studio Success. Previous speaking engagements include Dance Teachers Unite, Come Together Dance Teachers Conference, ‘Exchange’ and Victorian Dance Festival. Jane shares her experiences with dance studio owners from around the world through her work as a Leadership and Studio Growth Coach with Dance Studio Owners Association.
Jane works part time in an effort to successfully navigate the challenges of combining a career with her greatest role, that of mum to Alana, Caitlin and Liam and wife to Brian.