The Importance of Downtime

HAMMOCKIn many of my business lectures, I ask my audience how many of them take regular vacations. I’m always shocked when I see how many pet professionals don’t schedule vacations or downtime for themselves.

Did you know roughly half of all Americans don’t take annual vacations? And if they do take vacations, it’s common that they stay connected to work or even bring work along with them! Are you guilty of either of these situations? I have always scheduled downtime for myself. However, I admit I am guilty of being connected to work wherever I am – even when on vacation.

Scheduling time off for yourself is important to your overall physical and mental health. There are many positive effects to your well-being.

Here’s a short list of positive attributes to scheduling down time for yourself.

  • increased productivity
  • open to new ideas and viewpoints
  • increased creativity
  • lower stress levels
  • higher energy
  • improved moods
  • positive relationships with family and friends

2017-02-08_1539I learned early in my career the importance of scheduling time off for myself. I have always been an over-achiever, taxing my system both mentally and physically on a regular basis. Yet, I always maintain an intense pace. Why? I know the importance of unplugging.

The key is getting it SCHEDULED.  What gets scheduled – gets done. That’s true for everything, including down time!

Schedule time to disconnect. Schedule time to unplug. Schedule time to breathe. Schedule time to just enjoy life.

Here is a collection of ways to unplug. Use it to get your ideas flowing on how YOU can find time to decompress from an abundant (and sometimes insanely busy) life.

  • Daily Down Time – Do something every day you enjoy. Maybe it’s spending quality time with your family or friends. Cooking. Exercise. Sports. Reading. Doing something creative. Just take the time to enjoy the simple things life offers.
  • ab3ca0e2f7a04a4ad659c82ea2485e0eFull Days – Book a day just to do something fun and special. You might opt to include only yourself. Or plan an activity with friends. Or with family. Many times, special days don’t require money but they do require time and planning.
  • Weekend Jaunts – When is the last time you booked a weekend excursion? Everyone has different tastes. Some enjoy the solitude of the woods, water, or slopes. Others get a charge out of dog show weekends. Others gravitate to the city. There are literally thousands of things you could do on a weekend, creating special memories for a lifetime.
  • Staycations or Holistay – If your life is supercharged or you don’t have the financial resources for a full-fledged vacation, staying home could be the best answer. What is a staycation or a holistay? It’s when you stay home and participate in leisure activities within driving distance. You sleep in their own bed at night. You might make day trips to local tourist sites, swimming locations, or participate in fun activities such as horseback riding, kayaking, wine tasting, hiking, or visiting museums. Most of the time it involves dining out more frequently than usual or participating in carefree dinner menus.
  • Vacations – Think big. Have fun. Head to the islands. The slopes. Experience a cruise. Explore areas you have never been. Participate in activities that are new to you. Every city, state, and country has a wide range of activities. The only thing holding you back is your imagination and possibly your pocketbook.

A word of caution. When planning any type of downtime – is make sure it stays downtime. Don’t over schedule too many activities. If you do, you will just jump from one frenzied lifestyle into another. You won’t relax and rejuvenate.

Vacations and down time reduce stress and improve health. Time away makes you an effective, productive, and happier worker. You’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle whatever life tosses your way. Take the time to get down time into your calendar.  You deserve it!

~Happy trimming,

Melissa

MVpaw_no_Inner_whiteP.S. How do you unplug?  If you don’t – or can’t – tell us why.  Jump on the Learn2GroomDogs.com Facebook page and tell us about it.

 

 

clinicSpend the day with Melissa

Melissa Verplank will be in Lutz, Florida on Sunday, March 19, 2017 for an all day seminar.  Melissa will present four of her most popular lectures that are sure to help you and your business!

The Power of Natural Remedies

Using Natural Remedies to Ward Off Laryngitis

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I’ve been a long-time believer of natural remedies. The healing power of nature is amazing. There are so many avenues, it’s often mind-boggling.

I have used natural remedies to cure tendonitis, boost my immune system, sleep better, relax, increase energy, control cholesterol, and ward off cancer. I follow a Paleo/anticancer diet which eliminates all processed foods. I have had great success using natural means to ward off health concerns.

This success makes me a true believer in this quote:

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This year has been extremely busy. With the release of the second edition of Notes from the Grooming Table, I have been doing a lot of speaking engagements. I also have a long history of losing my voice when I speak for extended periods. I’m just very prone to laryngitis.

I always feel fine – I just can’t speak above a very soft whisper. Normally, I have been able to get through my events before I lost my voice. This year was different. I was consistently losing my voice after just two lectures.

I had been hired by Barkleigh Productions to speak at Groom Expo. A few weeks before the show, reality started to sink in. I had been hired to give seven lectures over the weekend! Not only was I speaking, I had a judging assignment, too. In addition, I was attending the Barkleigh Honor Awards banquet for two nominations: Website of the Year and Book of the Year. When you factor in all of the talking that happens at any trade show, I knew laryngitis was likely. What would I do if people couldn’t hear one of my hour-long presentations? How could I motivate, inspire, or teach them if I couldn’t speak?

I needed to keep my voice.

product5_seasonal_throatcoatlemonechinacea-06-348x408At the Atlanta Pet Fair, Lisa and Eric Leady introduced me to an organic tea that their daughter Amanda drank before singing engagements. My husband ran out right away and got me a box of Throat Coat by Traditional Medicinals. After drinking a few cups over night, my voice came back.

About a week before the Hershey show, I reached out on Facebook and asked if anybody had any suggestions on natural preventatives for laryngitis. I was flooded with suggestions!

Luckily, there are many common threads. Added humidity, essential oils combined with tea, honey, and lemon were the top contenders. I narrowed down the comments into the following treatment plan.

Humidity

When I thought back on my speaking engagements for this year, I realized all were in hotels or convention centers with air conditioning. Hmmm… Air-conditioning removes humidity from the air. Could that be a major cause for my bouts with laryngitis?

Many of the comments suggested running a hot shower in the hotel room to build up humidity levels. Other people suggested running a humidifier.

I didn’t do either. I took it one step further.

We were traveling and staying in our coach at a local RV park. We opted to leave the windows open versus running the air conditioner which would have reduced the natural humidity levels.

I knew I had a steam inhaler sitting in the cabinet. It got packed into the coach. I used it at least three times a day while I was speaking – with a few drops of essential oils.

Essential Oils

essential_oilsFor years I had been hearing about the powers of essential oils. I had dabbled in it, but hadn’t yet jumped on the bandwagon. I even had two books outlining suggested usage for essential oils, as well as all the items that go along with using them! I was totally ready to jump in!

For laryngitis, I used a combination of sandalwood, frankincense, and lavender in a variety of ways. It was also heavily suggested that I boost my immune system by using Doterra “On Guard,” an essential oil protective blend.

Here’s how I used the essential oils.

I mixed On Guard with fractionated coconut oil according to directions in my book. I put this mixture in a small rollerball applicator. I started using On Guard about a week prior to the event. I put it on my wrists, forearms, and the bottoms of my feet several times during the day.

I also mixed sandalwood with fractionated coconut oil according to instructions and put it in a small rollerball applicator. This would be applied to my forearms and my throat five or six times a day while I was speaking.

I started to put On Guard into my diffuser. I ran the diffuser whenever we were in the coach. The diffuser added the immunity boosting properties of On Guard into the air. The little bit of the humidity it added didn’t hurt either! Plus, it smelled great!

The steam inhaler was a great bonus item. I really feel it helped keep my voice strong. I spent about 20 minutes, three times a day, using the steam inhaler that contained a drop of sandalwood, frankincense, and lavender essential oils.

Tea

coffee-and-dna-jpg-653x0_q80_crop-smartAs soon as we arrived in Hershey, I started drinking my Throat Coat tea. There are two types, one with lemon and one without. I have used both with great success. I would start my day with a nice mug of hot tea and one or two tablespoons of honey. I continued to drink the tea and honey throughout the day. It was always in my spill-proof travel mug and never far from my side. On a rare evening occasion, I’d even added a small splash of Jim Beam Honey to the brew. It’s not the best way to stick to my overall diet plan, but it’s sure a great way to wind down after a long day!

So how did my natural remedies work while I was at Groom Expo 2016?

I’ve got to be honest. I was a bit skeptical about my voice holding up, but I was still going strong after four lectures! I did fine through a judging assignment, another lecture, and the Barkleigh Honors Awards where I gave two acceptance speeches. My voice remained strong (okay, maybe a little jittery during the acceptance speeches) and I went into my third day with two more lectures without a hint of laryngitis!

I have become a true believer of the power of essential oils combined with other natural healing methods to overcome common ailments. I was thrilled with my results. In the future, the items pictured above will always be my traveling companions for any speaking engagement!

What natural methods do you swear by? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa

Why Should I Schedule Holiday Appointments in September?

dogIt’s hard to think about scheduling for the holidays with apples still growing bright on the trees and pumpkins still turning orange in the fields. Warm weather makes it hard to start thinking about holiday plans. What if I told you that this is the perfect time to avoid holiday stress?

The secret to avoiding holiday madness is to put your festive season pre-booking plans into gear before the chill hits the air. Are you surprised? It’s true! Here is an added perk to pre-booking holiday appointments. ‘Tis the season to guarantee the typically quiet months of January and February are lively and robust. This is the perfect time to ensure you have a holly, jolly, and profitable grooming season.

When you count it out, we are not that far out from many prime holidays. In just six short weeks it will be Halloween. In 10 weeks we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. In about 15 weeks we will celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. All of these holidays revolve around friends and family.

holiday-stress-600x300pxOne of the biggest ways to eliminate being frazzled by all the holiday pressures is to get organized, now. The last thing your clients want to worry about is having their four-legged fur baby looking unkempt and bedraggled as friends and family enter their homes to celebrate the season.

Years ago we discovered that pre-booking was a great way to get control of our salon schedule. It offered a great benefit to our customers, as well. We even found a few hidden bonuses. One of those bonuses was shortening the time frame between appointments on our five and six-week clients. Our customers often opted to shave off a week or two from their regular schedule just to make sure their dog was looking fresh and festive. By doing so, the added revenue dropped directly to our bottom line. Another bonus was the generosity of tips around the holiday season. The third bonus was our ability to pre-book into the typically slower January and February appointment time frames here in Michigan. When done correctly, our January and February can be some of our more profitable months.

So how do you kick this off?

Start by going through your client list. Identify your premiere clients. You know who they are – the clients that book regular appointments every one, two, three, four, five, and six weeks. You will start pre-booking appointments based on the frequency your clients typically come into the salon.

5-phone-calls-that-saved-me-100Once you have them identified, it’s time to pick up the phone and get them scheduled. I consider it a courtesy call to our most important and regular clients.

Your weekly and bi-weekly clients should have automatic standing appointments throughout the entire year. Those clients are your most valued premier customers. Confirm all of their appointments. They should be dropped into the schedule first, getting premium appointment choices. Once all your one and two-week clients are booked, move to your three-week clients. If they do not already have pre-scheduled appointments through the holiday season, pick up the phone to get them scheduled. Continue to move down the list to the four-week clients. Finish up with your five- and six-week clients.

By the time you are done, you will have very few appointments left. Why? Because you’ve done such a good job taking care of your most valuable clients. If you do have any appointments left, you can be selective about what you take. You will have the control and confidence to know what can be done or what needs to go on to a cancellation list or when you simply need to say, “I’m sorry, but we are full.”

Once the schedule is set – stick to your guns. Sure, the holiday season can be extremely profitable for grooming establishments, but do you really need to push yourself beyond your limits?

No. Not if you value your mental and physical health.

istock_83916991_mediumOnce you get into the final countdown in November and December, looking forward six weeks will be January and February. Before those clients leave, they should have their January and February appointments pre-booked. If you struggle to get clients to pre-book during the colder months, think about incentives to help encourage pre-booking. Maybe it’s a discount off their next grooming. Maybe it’s a free add-on, upsell, or spa treatment. Get creative – but make sure you’re ready to offer the incentive at checkout to get those deep winter appointments booked.

Don’t forget, the holiday season is about friends and family. You have a right to enjoy them, too. How can you fully enjoy family time when you’re totally drained? Some of you may miss festivities altogether! I can’t tell you how many Christmas Eve’s and even Christmas days I totally missed because I was simply exhausted. Most successful groomers have to learn this lesson the hard way – including myself!  Don’t believe me? Click here to check out my video on Learn2GroomDogs.com!

When you have a pre-booking priority system, you are in control. You’ll be able to recapture your holiday spirit and sanity – and so will your team!

Remember, as the holidays draw closer, the dogs get easier. Typically, these are the one- to three-week regularly scheduled pets. Simple spruce-ups are usually all that’s needed to make them look amazing for their families.

This system works best when you start pre-booking in September. Don’t wait. You’ll thank me later when you have time to enjoy loved ones and some holiday cheer.

What steps do YOU take? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa

Overspending Your Time Budget

Time-Is-Money-740rrIt’s interesting that some people who are so disciplined and focused regarding their financial budget, think nothing of overspending their time budget.

Let me explain what I mean. There are only so many hours in a day, a set number of days in a week, and a measurable number of days in a year. Those hours and minutes never change. These blocks of time shape our lives. They frame when we work, when we sleep, when we eat, and when we play. Yet, many people treat these blocks like hands full of cash just waiting to be spent. They forget that time is finite and has limits.

Many of us know, whether we create definite schedules or just have a rough idea, how our days, weeks, and months will be shaped. Others schedule their whole lives down to the last detail. I’ll bet you know:

  • what time you’ll get up each day.
  • what days you’ll work.
  • when you’ll leave work and go home.
  • what time you hope to go to bed.
  • your plans for the weekend.
  • when you’d like to take a vacation.

Given those facts, you also know:

  • roughly how many hours you’ll work this week.
  • how many hours of sleep you’ll get tonight.
  • how much time you have left to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night.

Our lives are all about time. We think about it constantly, whether we realize it or not. Tapping your foot because someone is late? You’re thinking about time. Honking your horn because the car in front of you didn’t go when the light changed? You’re thinking about time. How many times did you glance at your watch, clock, or phone today? It’s all about time.

So now that you realize you’re thinking about it, let’s talk about spending it. Time is like money – when you have it, life seems more in control. So why do so many of us spend time like it’s a limitless resource?

Time is the same for all of us. We all have the same amount of time in our “wallets.” We all have the same numbers of seconds, minutes, hours, and days. Yet, I see people who overspend their time budgets everywhere I go.

Have you ever thought about what mismanaged time is doing to you and those around you? Let’s start with your health. Are you eating right or just grazing on whatever you can find? Are you sleeping well or enough? Is your body reacting to the stress with pain, skin issues, or illness? What about your relationships with others? Are your irritable, impatient, and withdrawn? Are you missing out on family events? How much time do you get to spend with your friends? For that matter, when did you last take any time for yourself?

If the answers to those questions are negative ones, it’s time to make some changes before you lose your mental and physical health, relationships, or job. There are ways to stop that flood of overspending, but like anything else, you have to be honest with yourself and assert some discipline.

Know your limits

You need to eat and sleep. To nurture your relationships, you need to set time aside for those you love. You need to pick your kids up from school. You need to set time to take care of yourself. That means you need a reasonable schedule and you need to stick to it. That doesn’t mean you have to be inflexible, but if you’re in time trouble, you need to be as ruthless with your time spending as you would your cash if you were deep in debt. You need to retrain yourself and that means that at first, there is no bending of the rules you set for yourself. Eventually, with practice, you may be able to lighten up on the reins, but until then, stick to the plan. How will you know when you’ve achieved the proper balance? Simple. Ask your doctor, family, and co-workers. When they give you the thumbs up, you can ease up a bit.

Create an emergency fund

Setting a schedule or framework builds in the gift of time. When you set time goals and stick to them, you suddenly have time available at the end of your day. No, that doesn’t mean you can start spending it like a $10.00 bill you discovered in your jacket pocket. That time is emergency money, like a credit card that you use only for dire straits. Use that time to get other scheduled tasks done ahead of schedule, so if something urgent comes up (and it will), like a family emergency – you can handle it with limited effect to those who are depending on you.

Become a master of efficiency

Doing things the same old way has gotten you into this mess. Are you using your time properly? Just because it’s the “way you’ve always done it” doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Finding better ways to do tasks reduces their power over you. Sometimes you do a task the most efficient way, but at the wrong time of day, and it eats up valuable minutes.

Do you always put that phone call off because you’re uncomfortable? Do it first and get it out of the way so you don’t spend the rest of your day dreading it. Some tasks can be made easier with technology. Look for better ways to do things and you’ll be surprised how those moments, like pennies, begin to add up.

Eliminate procrastination from your vocabulary

Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “I can’t wait to procrastina…” I love that joke, but it’s also so true. Think of all the time we waste by putting things off. We waste time just thinking of ways to avoid a task. We waste even more by trying to think up ways to justify it to ourselves. Some things are just always going to test your nerve, your resolve, or your patience. Just do them and get them over with, then move on to the good stuff as a reward.

Accept that sometimes the answer is, “No.”

I remember asking my mom for something when I was little. I can’t remember what it was, or even why I wanted it (which shows how important it was, right?). What I do remember is what she told me when I asked why I couldn’t have it. She simply (and not unkindly) said, “Honey, sometimes the answer is ‘no.’”

It was an important lesson then and it still matters now. Sometime you have to say “no.” When you make a promise you can’t keep, it’s more than an inconvenience – it’s a breach of trust. Keep it up and your word is worthless. Be realistic with your expectations and abilities. Know when to say that more time or help is needed – or even the reality that you can’t do it. Give the other person a chance to pursue other options. They won’t look down upon you for being honest – they’ll be glad you didn’t leave them high and dry when you couldn’t keep your promise.

Know when to ask for help

This goes hand in hand with the previous point. Maybe you can’t do a task alone, but with the right help…? You still have worth and value even if you need assistance. Knowing that you need help lets others know that you understand the problem and have a plan.

Asking for help can actually save time. Two people carrying in all those grocery bags will get the job done a lot quicker, right? Just because you can do something alone doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Be present

Being present means you are paying attention to the task at hand, not the next thing you’re worrying about. With proper planning, you will be able to compartmentalize tasks a little easier. That means that you can get things done in the time allotted. Being present also means understanding that loved ones need you just as much as those tasks you are trying to get done. When you can’t remember the last time you tucked your child in at night or thought to give your spouse a kiss goodnight, things need to change.

Respect boundaries

This is a big one. Know your limits AND those of others. Do you have deadlines? Meet them especially if you’re part of a chain of events. If you’re late, they will be, too. If they can’t make up the time downstream, the end result will be late. People who plan can often help those who don’t, but they won’t for long.

Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on theirs

If you overspent your time, it creates a ripple effect on others involved. If you created an emergency because of poor planning and execution, don’t always expect others to bail you out. Mutual respect breeds trust and a solid team. When we all work together, everyone wins.

Time can be a beautiful thing. When you have it, you can appreciate the loveliness of the world around you. You can enjoy time spent with others. You can actually be present with those who matter most. When you are a slave to time because you failed to control your misspending of this finite resource, you create a prison for yourself. Luckily, there is a key… YOU!

Do you sometimes struggle with time management?  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Guest blogger

~Joelle Asmondy