Entrepreneurship is an amazing journey. There’s nothing more satisfying than building a business from nothing, setting your own schedule, starting each day with the question “Should I wear pants today?” and answering with a resounding “nope!”
Entrepreneurship can also be one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do. You might be your own boss, but there’s no one walking into your office at 10 pm telling you to go home and take a shower. You are the CEO, the marketing director, head of the creative department, the IT crew, the customer service hotline, and the janitor all at once.
There’s no punch card, no paid 15 minute breaks, and no pretending to work for the last hour while you watch the clock for quitting time. You get to/have to create your own schedule and your own structure.
As awesome as being a business owner is, it can be really stressful and crazy-making. You’ve probably figured out some tricks for keeping it together, but here are some of my favorite ways to maintain my status as a functional human being while building a business.
Tricks for Staying Healthy as an Entrepreneur
Guard your office hours
Set boundaries around your time. Have a bedtime and stick with it. Stay away from your email on the weekends and after certain hours at night. Have a designated unplug day (that’s Sundays for me). Eat at least one meal per day far away from your computer. Hustling is great, but don’t forget to live outside your business too!
Leave the house
Sometimes I like to take my laptop and a notebook to a coffee shop for a change of scenery (I am the Cafe Wordsmith, after all!), or I leave the computer altogether and go for a walk. If I’m stuck on a project, I take an hour to browse a bookstore, take myself to lunch, or maybe take a whole morning off to visit a museum or something.
Go out with friends in the evenings. Schedule a date night with your significant other or best friend every week. When you work at home, it’s really easy to become a hard-working hermit in pajama pants, but you’ll feel more creative and balanced if you take time to get some sunshine and social interaction.
Work in short bursts with breaks in between
Our brains can only concentrate on one thing for 45 minutes or so before we start thinking about what to have for dinner. Try working in concentrated chunks of 45-55 minutes and taking a 5-10 minute break between bursts. Active breaks away from the computer are best. I like get up and fill my water bottle, go outside for a minute, or even hula hoop in between work bursts. When you let yourself focus and rest, your productivity will skyrocket.
Pay attention to ergonomics
Back problems, sore necks, and carpal tunnel syndrome suck, and unfortunately, they’re very common among entrepreneurs (and anyone else who works at a desk). Prop up your laptop so you aren’t hunching over to see the screen. Get an ergonomic mouse if your wrist is acting up. Try a standing or even treadmill desk if you can. Make sure to get up every once in awhile so you aren’t in the same sitting position for hours and hours. You’ll have fewer aches and pains and feel more energetic too!
It’s a hard truth, but here it is: It won’t all get done.
When you have a zillion little things on your to-do list, it’s so easy to get stuck in the piddly little tasks that ultimately won’t move your business forward. Instead of going for the little things first, start with the important things that will make the biggest difference.
I like to start my day by doing something that will help my business grow, like writing a blog post or sending an email pitch. Once that’s done, I move onto client work, because I’m held accountable for that and I know I’ll defy time and space to get it done on time.
But the other really important stuff no one’s checking up on me for? I’m more likely to blow that off. So I get it done first. Try it for a week and see what happens!
Prep some healthy meals
We know we feel better when we eat well, but when we’re on a time crunch it’s so much easier to nuke a frozen burrito than put together a beautiful, nourishing salad.
The solution? Do as much as you can ahead of time.
When you bring home your groceries, chop veggies for snacks and salads so all you have to do is open a container. Premake some sauces or dressings, cook up some healthy proteins, and put together some grab and go snacks. Learn about the wonders of crockpots and quick dump dinners if you haven’t already.
Healthy food can make a huge difference in how you feel, think, and work, so it’s worth it to put in a little time to make healthy eating easier when you’re busy, because that’s when you need that energy the most.
You can’t do it all yourself, and you shouldn’t for a few different reasons. First, it’ll wear you out and you won’t be able to give your all to the parts of your business that only YOU can do. Also, you might not be that good at everything, which is fine! Not everyone is amazing at all aspects of running a business, so don’t waste time on things that aren’t your zone of genius when you can hire someone who enjoys it and might actually do a better job.
Looking to outsource? Check out my services page.
Entrepreneurship takes a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to run you into the ground. Burnout will not grow your business or make you a happy person, so make sure to take care of your health and your precious brain while you turn your business into your dream empire!