As an entrepreneur, I have found that I need to remind myself that I need to take time for myself. This may sound a bit strange, but it’s true. Those that know me, know that I have worked a wide variety of positions and shifts but being an entrepreneur is different. It’s harder to turn off my brain because I never leave work, even when I say that I’m done, I am never really done for the day.
This week has been rough for me. Life happened, plans changed, and the feels hit hard. I overbooked myself last week. I try to keep my schedule flexible yet workable for myself as a large part of what I do is creative work which I thoroughly enjoy. I also know that for me to be able to be creative, I need to be able to access that part of my brain which can’t be done if I am running. Running from meeting to meeting. Running around my house trying to keep the laundry caught up and dinner on the table. Running to the store for groceries or supplies or to the doctor’s office for checkups. What was missing from my week of running was time for me.
As an entrepreneur, I know that we often put ourselves on the backburner and this more often than not, leads to problems. Simple problems such as paying the business credit card with your personal account instead of the business account. To larger problems such as forgetting to eat, missing time with family, and feeling overwhelmed and lost. These are not amazing feelings and can lead to even larger issues.
As a small business owner, I am learning that I need to prioritize myself just as much as I do the business. To do this, I am working on making my schedule to reflect my needs as well as others needs through setting boundaries and finding balance. Not that long ago, I would answer client phone calls whenever they called including weekends and later at night. I found that I had difficulties finding balance between work and family. I felt I was constantly being pulled in two different directions and neither one allotted time for little things, like taking a shower!
By setting boundaries, I found that I was able to spend more quality time on the work I agreed to take on, my family, and most importantly, myself. However, it is not easy to maintain these boundaries, as evident by stretching myself too thin and having felt the stress of it all this week. As I have found that I need to remind myself of this simple truth, I am certain I am not alone. So here are things I have found that have helped me:
- Setting Determined “Work Hours” – Yes, there are times when I work beyond these specified work hours such as networking events but on the whole, I devote time between 8am to 5pm for work. This is the time that if a phone call comes through and I can answer, I will. I respond to messages, emails, work on projects, update my personal social media, attend meetings, and all the other wonderful things devoted to the business.
- Find A Balance With “Work Hours” – For me, this means 2 business related meetings a day. No more. Any more than 2 business related meetings a day leaves me feeling as if I have run all day and zaps any creative juices that may be flowing. I am still able to think of all of the things, but actually accomplishing those things becomes much more difficult when I am trying to squeeze in things between meetings.
- It’s Okay To Do Other Things During “Work Hours” – Here’s a big truth bomb for me and one that I have difficulty with. No matter what you do, you cannot constantly work. Taking time to do things that need to be accomplished outside of work is okay. Now, I’m not saying take a few hours and binge watch a show but it’s 100% okay to take a break to throw in a load of laundry, vacuum the stairs, walk the dog, whatever it is that you need to do. Not only do I feel more accomplished at the end of the day, I also feel less stressed when I do put down the computer/phone/iPad for an hour or so and focus on something else for a bit.
- It’s Okay To Take A Day Off – Oh, this is a tough one for me. I feel guilty taking a day off because I’m thinking about all the things that I “should” be doing, and this can include literally all of the things. This leaves me feeling that I am behind in life and that sneaky depression starts to seep in. When I feel this way, I tell myself things I would never, let me repeat that, I would never say out loud to anyone, ever. When I find myself starting to think on all of the things that I “should” be doing, I know I need to step away for a bit and take some time off.
In setting these boundaries, I have found that I am able to find a better balance in my life (and yes, more frequent showers). If I have found one thing that all entrepreneurs have in common, it is that we all have times when we feel alone. In this rather personal post, I hope that you know that you are not alone. We’re all in this together.