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Soapbox & Opinions












Are you working to live or living to work?

The jewellery industry is notoriously dominated by those who prioritise working long hours over a healthy work-life balance. MADELINE DUFFY encourages you to step back and consider the bigger picture.

I’m sure you’ll agree when I say that the jewellery industry is dominated by ‘workaholics’ – those who are driven by a compulsion to work beyond what’s reasonably expected despite the potential for negative consequences.

If that description fits your approach to business, allow me to ask you a simple question - what are you working so hard for?

Take a moment to really think about that question before you read on. Are you working hard to spend more quality time with your partner or your children?

Do you work long hours so that you can enjoy luxuries such as a bigger home, a fancier car, or perhaps an overseas holiday?

Now ask yourself this question – are you accomplishing these goals? Sadly, I can guarantee many people will say no. We know according to various studies that stress causes major health concerns, including serious heart problems, increased depression, and fertility issues.

Did you know that 74 per cent of Australians feel that stress impacts their physical health? One study in the US suggests that 80 per cent of workplace accidents are due to stress. It’s not too late to turn it around!

There are a number of solutions worthy of consideration for the dedicated business owner and jeweller, including defining your values, improving your organisation, and reviewing your services.

“Many jewellers tend to fall into the habit of playing the role of the dreaded ‘yes man’ when it comes to accepting every single job, causing our stress levels to skyrocket.”

Don’t be a pushover

If you think you have an unhealthy balance between your professional and personal life, take the time to review your values.

Many jewellers tend to fall into the habit of playing the role of the dreaded ‘yes man’ when it comes to accepting every single job, causing our stress levels to skyrocket.

My recommendation is that you write down your top three values in your business and in your personal life.

Examples of values in the jewellery business can be prioritising relationships with customers and establishing trust, a dedication to producing quality products, and practicing sustainable and ethical trade.

Once you have figured out your core values, each decision you make should align with them. If you’re presented with a job that doesn’t align with your values, you can confidently say no without feeling guilty.

Many jewellers accept every job they’re presented with out of the fear that opportunities will one day ‘dry up’.

However, many customers are naturally drawn to businesses that reflect their values – so when you compromise your own values, you may well be costing your business further down the line. Values are important because they allow us to develop, both in a personal and professional sense, and create a future we want to experience.

Get organised
“The added bonus of scheduling your day in this way is that you can leave work each day comfortable in the understanding that you’re on the right track!”

If you speed through each day doing as much as possible, you’ll never leave the bench and you’ll feel overwhelmed. An easy way to improve your organisation is to schedule your time in a diary. Assign yourself a realistic number of tasks that you can get done each day, leaving wiggle room for unexpected urgent jobs, and stick to it.

At the beginning of each work day, review your tasks and schedule them in your diary. If you miss one, reschedule it. This practice has dramatically reduced the stress in my business. It will stop you from promising too many things on one day, discourages you from working late, and prevents you from letting customers down by missing a deadline.

When you can confidently tell your staff “no I am fully booked for today, it will need to wait” they will respect you for it. Organisation is my number one method for reducing stress.

The added bonus of scheduling your day in this way is that you can leave work each day comfortable in the understanding that you’re on the right track!

Sticking with this approach will give you more time to spend at home with your children or heaven forbid, go on a date with your significant other!

Review your services 
“Life isn’t all about work! Hopefully, my experiences can help you start working to live, instead of living to work.”

My final insight is to step back and look at what services you offer. Once you get in the habit of keeping a diary, you’ll quickly see where you are working ‘over capacity’.

In my business, I was so overwhelmed with the volume of repairs, that the more profitable jobs such as engagement rings were getting pushed to the side.

The solution was to review my financials and see if it was viable to continue operating in this manner. I discovered I was making hardly any money on repairs compared to the other services I offer, and it hadn’t been worth my time.

Now, I outsource all repairs so that I have more time to create new collections and focus on my high-end customers. My recommendation is that you take some time to refine your services and develop a strong understanding of where your time and energy is best spent. Making this change in my business has freed up time and allowed me to be more creative and enjoy my work.

As a flow-on effect, I also have a better work-life balance now because I have more time for the things I enjoy. I am happy to admit I am still learning every day, through trial and error. One of my values is ‘passion’ and without a healthy work-life balance, the passion for work quickly disappears.

It’s a fact that many of the world’s best jewellery designers and business owners work very long and grueling hours. While the end result is often remarkable, it’s an approach that can also lead to misery.

Life isn’t all about work! Hopefully, my experiences can help you start working to live, instead of living to work.

NameMadeline Duffy
BusinessMadeline’s Jewellery By Design
Position: CEO and Jeweller
LocationBunbury, Victoria
Years in the industry: 7

 

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