When you have your own business, it can feel like you ought to be working every minute of every day. This is perfectly understandable; you're working towards your dream and you want to accomplish it come hell or high water. If you're not careful, though, overworking yourself can undermine this goal instead of helping you reach it.
As Ben Bloch, a Weebly Director of Engineering, discussed in a recent article he wrote for Business Insider, taking time away from your work is key to keeping the creative and entrepreneurial juices flowing. But how can you follow this great advice when there's no real separation between your personal life and your work?
Get rest whenever possible
The more you rest, the more work you can get done. We all ultimately know this is true, but it can sound counterintuitive when we're in the middle of working on a huge project. Next time you need some motivation to step away and give yourself a chance to rest, think about this study published in Nature showing that sleep inspires insight and this study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Journal (the name was going to be longer but they ran out of space on the cover) detailing that REM sleep improves creativity and productivity regardless of whether it comes at night or through naps. Probably better if you get both.
Which all means if you want to accomplish your goals you should get sleep, rest, relax, sleep, rest and then relax again.
That all sounds nice, but again, how can you fit that into your schedule?
There's a very good chance you're working on your own business in addition to another job that pays the bills. Which also means you're working your "real" job and then focusing on what you want to be doing when you get home at night, when you're already drained and tired from the work you were doing all day. You're giving all your best work to the job you don't want and saving the leftovers for the job you do. This is backwards.
Get in the habit of waking up a little earlier every day to knock out the most important task for your own business before going to work. That way you'll already feel super accomplished before you even start your commute.
It may sound contradictory to plan to get rest, rest and more rest, and then also to wake up early, but doing so can also ensure quiet time to yourself, time for exercise and time for a healthy breakfast, all things that can help you accomplish more. You'll simply feel less rushed.
Be present in your work
An excellent tip that Ben brought up in Business Insider is how important it is to be present in your work. Don't split your attention with Facebook, Twitter, email, texts or anything else on your phone. When you're working, work. When you're resting, rest.
There are apps specifically designed to keep you on task, like (OFFTIME), which blocks distracting apps and notifications for a set period of time so that you don't get off task. You can also try options like the simple Pomodoro Technique which sets specific blocks of time (around 30 to 45 minutes) in which to get work done, followed by short, scheduled breaks.
Stick to a routine
Once you have a routine, try to stick to it. Don't get up 6:00am on Monday and 9am on Tuesday and 7:30am on Wednesday. Get up at the same time each day. Start work at the same time. Take breaks at the same time. Sleep in on your days off, but otherwise treat your own work the same way you treat working for someone else, show up and leave at set times.
Again, this may seem contradictory to the notion of taking lots of breaks, but it's this structure that will enable you to have more time for breaks. If your work time is haphazard, then it can easily eat your entire schedule. Forcing it into scheduled blocks ensures you do plenty of work as well as have unscheduled time for yourself.
Find someone else you can rely on
One of the hardest things to do as a business owner is to delegate responsibility. You're so close to the project, how could anyone else possibly do the job you're expecting?
Here's the thing. They won't. They'll bring new, different ideas. Some of which will be better than your own, some of which will be worse. And that's good. It's important to figure out very early on that it doesn't require perfection to build your business, it requires persistence and a willingness to sometimes fail. It helps to have someone else shoulder that burden.
This can be a family member. A friend. Someone you bring on a business partner who will also feel strong ownership over the business. This will allow you to walk away for a bit to hike the mountains or visit the beach. To step away and feel refreshed.
Starting a new business can (and maybe even should) feel all consuming. You're taking a leap that many people don't have the guts to make. To succeed, though, you still need to allow yourself time to breathe and maintain some semblance of a live / work balance. Doing so will make that leap even more likely to be worth it.