When you launch your business the first things you focus on are usually designing your logo, creating your website, writing some content and making sure everything looks great – this is your new baby after all! But there’s one thing that’s more important than all the branding, networking and finding new clients, and that’s making sure you’re taking good care of yourself.
Setting up some healthy habits from the start can stop you feeling burned out further down the line, so here are three suggestions to help you stay sane and navigate even the most stressful of days!
Get A Business Buddy
Last week I met up with my BB (Judy Heminslea of All Things Bright & Good). We started with a catchup over a brown bag lunch, then headed out for a walk while we brainstormed our business ideas and discussed our challenges, progress and profits.
Judy is fortunate to live in part of a converted mill surrounded by rolling Somerset countryside, so we started off strolling through a neighbouring field of sheep where their more confident and curious month-old lambs watched us closely as we walked past. Climbing over a few stiles and across a busy road took us into shady woodland carpeted in wild garlic just coming into flower, then uphill across several fields where we had views for miles. Feeling rather virtuous and full of fresh air we then headed back to base for tea and cake.
It’s the perfect way to recharge, re-energise and reconnect in a world that is often virtual, and if you’re working from home, often solitary for large chunks of the day. It’s become an essential part of business for both of us, an opportunity to discuss ideas, get some feedback and offload any frustrations that have build up since our last meeting.
So I’d highly recommend it – even if you don’t have a business buddy with handy access to rural bliss you can meet for a coffee and a walk around your local park – there’s something about getting away from your desk while still being in work mode that helps broaden our perspective and generate more creative ideas.
Have A Schedule
You might have started a business so that you can have more flexibility in your life or to blend work with family responsibilities, but if you’re always in ‘work mode’ and checking emails and social media messages at all hours you’ll quickly start to feel fried.
Even though you might need to maintain a flexible schedule, it’s still important to create a regular routine. Our brains love familiarity and habit, so a little ritual at the start of your working day can help you focus on your to-do list and get down to work instead of feeling overwhelmed and ending up doing ‘busy work’ that somehow seems to involve a lot of scrolling Facebook but never moves you or your business forward.
Something simple like making a cup of coffee in your favourite mug, playing some upbeat music or listening to some affirmations can act as a clear signal to your brain that you’re crossing from ‘domestic’ to ‘work’, even if all you’ve done is clear the breakfast things from the kitchen table to make room for your laptop.
It’s also important to have a stopping time and a ritual to end your working day. Schedule ten or 15 minutes to review what you’ve achieved and make a few notes so that it’s easy to pick up later in the evening or the following day. Then down tools and switch off to give yourself a break.
Writing down three things you’ve achieved today might sound simple, but your list will quickly start to grow and you’ll have a clear idea of your progress over time. Being able to reflect back on how far you’ve come can really boost your mood and confidence on days when you’re flagging or feeling like you’re getting nowhere!
Practice Good Self Care
When you first start out in business you’ll probably be doing everything yourself – not just delivering your product or service but also dealing with your own marketing, book-keeping, website maintenance, blogging and social media.
As your business grows and develops you’ll be able to outsource some of these tasks and build a support team to share the load, but whether you’re a team of one or a team of ten, self-care is still an essential for any business owner.
As well as having a routine and schedule with clear starting and finishing times, it’s also important to step away from the keyboard and give yourself time for family, friends and having fun.
We all know that a healthy diet and some gentle exercise are good for us, but it’s so easy for even the most basic self-care habits to drop off the radar when we’re busy with endless demands on our time and energy. Look for ways where you get more bang for your buck from your time off – a date night with your partner might be a great opportunity to plan healthy menus and a cooking schedule for the week ahead or a trip to the park with your kids is the perfect time to get some fresh air and exercise without having to schedule in a trip to the gym.
Look for ways to make self-care easy. I read a quote recently that said ‘grown-ups get lie-ins by going to bed early’ so if you feel you’re burning the candle at both ends, aim for at least one early night in the middle of the week, I promise you’ll feel better for a couple of extra hours sleep and will be a lot more productive the next day!