Starting any business requires hard work and as your business grows, so does the threat of it becoming all consuming. A lot of journey stories can either paint an overly rosy picture or can spell nothing but doom and gloom. Hopefully the tips below will help you find a balance, because yes, entrepreneurship is difficult, but with a few tweaks you can make it a healthy and enjoyable process!
1. Sleep Is Self-Care
18-hour entrepreneurial work-days have luckily been a myth to me, but 12-14 hour days are common. When you’re building something for yourself it can be hard to find a separation between the working day (usually 9-5) and after-work, because at the end of the day the opportunities to grow and problems to solve don’t pause at 5. That’s why you may sometimes find yourself working into the evening…and maybe even later than that. But this can have a large impact on your sleep.
Tip: Set A Bedtime
If you’re working, as you likely will be at least a few days a week, until 9,10,11pm (or even later), it’s important that you make time for adequate sleep. 6-8 hours a day. This not only helps you function better the next day so that you can be as productive as possible, but it also gives you a break! So, set a bed-time and make sure you go to bed at that time, even if it means missing out on a few things you love. I manage to be in bed before midnight (usually 11pm) so that I can get enough sleep for the next day, even if this means that my evenings are spent working with very little time for Netflix.
2. Food Is Self-Care
When you have back-to-back meetings (52 zooms in one jam-packed week was my highlight) and back-to-back emails and problems to solve, finding time to eat a balanced meal can be a challenge. But it’s so important. The meals you have will not only give you enough energy for the day, but will also make sure your brain is performing as best as it can.
Tip: Meal Prep
To help you get enough nutrients without taking up time you may not have – prep your meals! You can either do this by cooking and storing your meals beforehand, or you can simply prep your meal ideas so that you know what you’re going to eat and when and all you need to do is buy the ingredients in advance. I prefer the second option as it allows me to have more variety in my meals!
3. Being Social Is Self-Care
A lot of the time we can view self-care as a solitary activity, where we meditate alone, pop on a sheet mask, run a bath or curl up in bed with our favourite book. And while those things definitely constitute self-care, sometimes self-care is spending time with those you love and laughing about the most meaningless things. You may already spend a lot of time building your business with clients, employees, freelancers, and collaborators etc., but getting to be social with people in a setting that doesn’t have an agenda is something that I’ve found to be crucial to my self-care.
Tip: Get Social
Set aside a few nights (or hours) a week where you can unplug and have fun with your friends or family. Whatever it is you guys do together: go out for dinner and drinks or stay in and watch a film or play cards, make sure you enjoy every moment!
4. Organisation Is Self-Care
You’re going to have more information than you think, be it in the form of papers, emails, messages, documents, photos, passwords…everything. This can very quickly become a cluttered mess (IRL or digitally) and if you’re opening dozens of different folders to find a specific file or rifling through envelopes to get that invoice it can take a toll on your mental health and leave you very stressed.
Tip: Get organised
Find a way to organise your information from the get-go and it will save you a lot of time and hassle in the long-run. Some things that have worked for me: spreadsheets, colour-coding, a single calendar for work and non-work events, productivity apps and doing at least a weekly clean/tidy of my desk, desktop and phone. A clean and tidy work-life is a clean and tidy mind.
5. Focus Is Self-Care
Although it’s a bad habit, you may be tempted to compare yourself to the market leader in whatever industry you’re starting out in. So, if you’re looking to start a clothing brand, you may start comparing yourself to Chanel. Or, if you want to launch a skincare company…L’Oréal who? Not only is this completely unrealistic, but the practice of doing this will also add unnecessary pressure to your life and start-up. Yes, you should look at your competitors and learn from them (and their mistakes), but your journey is your own and no-one else’s.
Tip: Focus on you
To take the pressure off, focus on yourself. Easier said than done, yes, but when you take the time to really appreciate every single thing you’re doing to build your business (every small email sent, every design decision made, etc.) you’ll end up being really grateful for your journey and feel less pressure to do things like anyone else.
6. Doing Nothing Is Self-Care
The art of being busy: something city-dwellers have perfected (or at least pretended to), and something entrepreneurs can’t escape. When you’re building a business, the tasks never (and I really, truly mean never) end. There’s always another potential client you can reach out to, there’s always another application you can look at, there’s always another marketing campaign you can launch, there’s always another strategy you can consider. There’s always something more you can do…but that’s not really self-care, is it?
Tip: Do nothing
No, I don’t mean do nothing while you scroll on your Instagram or do nothing while you watch a chick flick. I mean, very literally, do nothing. Just relax, either in your favourite armchair or even on a walk, and give your brain a break from concentrating or thinking. Being in constant mental overdrive can be overwhelming, and it’s important that you find time to do nothing. I find meditation to be a great way to practice this and to help quiet the mind, and it’s a practice I would encourage everyone to adopt into their lives.