Whether you’re just starting out on your entrepreneurship journey, or if you’ve been running your own business for a while, it’s usually a busy, frantic process. You’re constantly learning, stretching yourself, and pushing yourself to do better. You have to deal with paperwork you’ve never heard of before, take all of the burdens and the responsibilities solely on your shoulder and constantly innovate and be creative in the way you work.
This can be an extremely exciting time, especially once you start to see some results from your efforts. But becoming an entrepreneur is also a difficult process, with long hours and lots of worry and stress. That’s why you need to develop strategies to keep yourself mentally, physically and emotionally healthy. You no longer have regular working hours, or already established time off. Instead, you have to create all these things for yourself, and learn to guard them closely. Because if you don’t, you’ll probably find that your business and your life will degrade faster than you ever would have thought possible.
Schedule breaks and days off
When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re completely responsible for the amount of work you get and the amount of money you’re bringing in. This reality can create a kind of panic, making you think that you need to be working all the time to make the money you need. But this kind of thinking will only exhaust you and burn you out.
No matter how busy you are, you need to take regular breaks. Don’t eat your food sitting hunched over your computer, and don’t work seven days a week and expect your energy to be endless. Breaks revitalize your thinking and give you time to do other things. And more importantly they get you away from your computer and out into life and the real world that you usually ignore when you’re working.
And don’t feel guilty
Even if you do schedule breaks, you might be reluctant to take them. This is all part of the guilt that sometimes comes with being an entrepreneur. This interloper creeps in and tells you that you’re not doing enough, making enough, and you have to do more so you can make the money you need.
The real trouble is that this voice isn’t wrong. When you’re just starting out it’s difficult to make the kind of money you need, and you might find yourself having to work longer hours to keep food on the table and a roof over your head. That’s why you should have a nice nest egg and some good clients before quitting your regular job to become an entrepreneur. But this guilt doesn’t go away even when you do make good money. It lingers, souring your days off and your time with friends and family.
The only thing that does help it is time. Remind yourself that you need to take time off to function at your best. Write this down somewhere you can see it and refer back to it often. And every time you hear that poisonous voice demanding that you do more, remind yourself of all the work you’ve done, and then go back to enjoy the little time you have to do other things.
Get lots of fresh air and exercise
Human beings need sunlight. They need to move their bodies. And if they don’t, there will be consequences. They may not appear right away, it might actually take years before the consequences make themselves known, but eventually there will be a price to pay, either mentally, emotionally or physically.
As an entrepreneur, you probably spend most of your days sitting at a desk, and this is incredibly bad for your health and your overall happiness. In fact, some recent research indicates that when you sit down for long periods, you greatly increase the odds of an early death. The results of this study suggest that after half an hour of sitting, you need to move around vigorously for five minutes to lower this risk factor. This may not always be possible, but it’s a good goal to have.
Schedule time with loved ones
When you’re busy, it can be hard to keep up with your social engagements. You might feel guilty for taking the time away from work, too tired to leave the house if you don’t have to, or just want some time alone when you can get it. And this is fine if it’s only once or twice, but unfortunately it can too easily become a habit.
The people in your life are what make your life worth living. No matter how antisocial you might think you are, no matter how busy you are, everyone needs regular social contact to feel healthy and happy. People with strong, in-person social bonds tend to live longer, have fewer health problems, and report higher overall life satisfaction. So don’t let your social connections be a casualty of your business, or you might find that all the success in the world isn’t worth it when you’re enjoying it alone.
Keep doing the things you love
Never let being an entrepreneur take up all of your life. Have you ever met one of those people who have nothing in their life but work? You see them quite often at parties, boring everyone around them with their blow by blow description of their latest work day. Do not let having your own business turn you into this person.
Chances are that you have other things in your life, things you enjoy or are good at or things that inspire you. And it’s important that you hold onto those things, not only for your overall health and happiness, but also for the good of your business. After all, it wasn’t just your business sense that created your new business, it was all of you. It was your quirks, your individual likes and skills and interests. Without all those aspects of yourself, there would be no business, and if you get rid of them, chances are that your business will suffer as well as your life.
Keep track of your time
As an entrepreneur it can be difficult to really know how you’re spending your time. You might think you’re doing a full day’s work when you’re really spending most of it answering emails or procrastinating on websites. Or it could go the opposite way, when you feel as if you’re not doing enough work when in reality you’re working 12-hour days constantly. The only way to overcome this uncertainty is to track your time.
Choose a day, or a week, and work out how you’re spending your time. Write everything down and use a stopwatch. By the time you’ve done this for a couple of days, you’ll have a good idea of how you’re using your time and how you could do better. And you’ll be able to see any little trouble spots where you’re wasting time that would be better spent on other activities. It will also give you some serious ammunition against the guilt you feel whenever you take a day off just to relax.
The number one thing you can take away from this
Being an entrepreneur can be a long, arduous journey that takes up a lot of your time, a lot of mental space, and most of your energy. But it shouldn’t be allowed to completely take over your life if you want a healthy and balanced life that you enjoy. And this is the key. Do the work you need to do. Do the work you want to do. But also hold onto the things that give you joy in other parts of your life as well. That way, you’ll enjoy the journey just as much as the destination and arrive there healthy and happy and ready to enjoy your success.