Entrepreneurs need to view the road to success as more of a marathon than a race. Reaching the end depends on having perseverance, which in turn necessitates several processes, including self-care. Too often, entrepreneurs let self-care fall by the wayside as they focus on work. Doing this can quickly lead to burnout. Some entrepreneurs take pride in working long hours, but doing this can actually hinder progress and lead to unhealthy routines that will eventually culminate in burnout.
The most successful entrepreneurs set aside time for self-care—most often after learning the hard way what can happen if they do not. Read on for some of the best tips when it comes to maintaining adequate self-care in entrepreneurship.
1. Prioritize sleep.
When we become extremely fatigued, our performance suffers. Sleep deprivation actually leads to a state of mind very similar to alcohol intoxication. Just as you would not show up to work drunk, you should take sleep seriously and make sure you make adequate time for it each night.
Sleep heals the body and the mind, letting us approach the next day with energy and excitement. Often, the thought of completing a task makes us push off sleep for another hour, but the best choice is to leave the project for the next day. Even Bill Gates aims to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
2. Unwind daily.
Entrepreneurs are often looking for ways to squeeze more into each day, but the people who are the most productive actually say that their productivity is bolstered by scheduling time to unwind. The human body is not built to expend energy constantly—doing so compromises work and causes tensions to mount.
Giving ourselves time to unplug from work and decompress has a rejuvenating effect, which in turn allows us to put 100 percent into work the next day. Many CEOs at large companies will purposefully disconnect from technology at night or for entire weekends at a time.
3. Learn to say no.
Today’s entrepreneur is often overscheduled—and unfortunately, overwhelmed. Planning too much keeps us from finishing everything we said we would. You would do better to learn to accept that you do not need to do everything. Learning to say no can be extremely liberating, especially as you learn that your business will not fall apart if you do.
People-pleasers, in particular, need to learn that they can say no. When it seems like there is simply no time for self-care, the next logical step is to make time. Pushing back and saying no may seem stressful at first, but it is a vital skill for you to learn.
4. Schedule personal time.
While it is important to relax and unwind daily, you also need to schedule a time to check in with yourself each day. The actual method of checking in can vary from person to person. Some individuals enjoy meditating, others prefer journaling, and some view video games as “me time.”
Whatever the activity you choose, use it to check in with yourself and gain some self-awareness. You may not realize how stressed or stretched you really are until you take some time to get in touch with your emotions. This time does not need to be long. Even 10 or 15 minutes is enough to get a better sense of how you are doing.
5. Pick up a hobby.
Even the most well-known entrepreneurs find ways to blow off steam, usually through hobbies. For example, the former CEO of Yahoo started to bake cupcakes for fun, while the CEO and cofounder of Chronicle makes time for online multiplayer gaming. Even Warren Buffett spends a lot of his time practicing the ukulele.
While these kinds of activities may seem frivolous at first glance, they can provide a person with the enthusiasm and inspiration they need to return to work. Plus, many successful entrepreneurs credit their hobbies for teaching them important lessons they then applied to their work.
6. Get some exercise.
A number of entrepreneurs say that their workout routines have helped them become successful because it forces them to push themselves physically and mentally. While you do not need to exercise intensely every day, making time to blow off steam physically can help in several areas of your life, from improving sleep to mitigating daily stress.
Physical activity for entrepreneurs is especially important as most of them spend the majority of their days in meetings or in front of a computer. Getting the blood pumping from time to time is important for continued health, whether that means an occasional hike up a mountain or hitting the treadmill at the gym. You should figure out what works best for you, and make sure to schedule time for it once you do.