Working for yourself as a business owner, contractor, or freelancer means you set the rules; it's one of the many perks that draws ambitious people to this lifestyle. But it also means you're the one in charge of everything, from your office space to your work hours to how you manage projects.
My husband and I are both entrepreneurs, so we know what it's like to both be working at 9:30 pm while trying to fit in dinner and some rest time together. This post is all about how we've found balance and productivity in self-care, and how that helps us thrive and grow our businesses. This is what we've learned while searching for ways to take care of ourselves.
Burnout is Real—and Common
You may not be sure self-care is important enough to invest time in. But as the entrepreneur at the head of your startup, you're running things, and if your engine runs dry, so does your business. Burnout is a common dilemma for entrepreneurs, and it can make your already uphill battle to business success come to a screeching halt.
The SBA Office of Advocacy estimates that only 50 percent of small businesses make it longer than five years. Your energy and drive aren't limitless, and as an entrepreneur, you're the fuel keeping your company moving forward. Just like you'd perform preventative maintenance on your car and tune up your home's furnace, you have to take care of your mind, body, and soul if you don't want your business to become a statistic.
Your Workspace Could Be Stressing You Out
A 2010 study found that simply the act of arranging your own workspace as you choose can increase your productivity. If you're still staring at blank wall while typing away from your living room couch, it might be time to deck out your own remote office.
Your workspace can either add to your stress or be a sanctuary. I have found that I'm more likely to take care of myself physically and mentally if my workspace is clean, conducive to the tasks I need to accomplish, and has a few perks! (I especially love this essential oils diffuser from Amazon). The ultimate goal of self-care is having more headspace for creativity in what you love doing and motivation to accomplish the mundane tasks while taking care of yourself.
Delegation is A Form of Self Care
According to Small Business Trends, an unwillingness to delegate is among the top 10 reasons small businesses fail. If you're still emptying the dishwasher in the breakroom or running your own social media accounts, it's time to delegate. You may be convinced that you can do it best or be afraid of the cost of bringing on a new team member, but what revenue are you losing by splitting your time among tasks someone else could do for you?
My husband's passion is coffee roasting. We co-own of Hammer & Kettle Coffee Roasters, and it didn't take long before he realized he needed my help in the marketing department. He can give attention to each roast profile, event idea, and business collaboration while I do the website building, marketing strategy, and high-level organization. Now he can protect his time and focus on improving our product, prospecting leads, and freeing up headspace for creative ideas and innovation.
Know What Makes You Tick
When I first started taking self care seriously, I made a list of tools and activities to enrich my workspace. I gradually purchased things like that nifty diffuser, more house plants, nice headphones, a Wake Up Light Alarm Clock, and a programmable Mr. Coffee Maker so that the smell of craft coffee greeted me each morning. I prioritized stretching and some yoga before sitting down to work. I bought easy-to-grab snacks and a fun water bottle to keep me hydrated and give me an energy boost when that 2 PM slump hits.
All of these tools and habits helped improve my environment to preemptively avoid stress and burnout. But of course, no one purchase or habit can fix the oh-so-human experience of burning out. Rest and self-care look different for everyone, and it's a journey, not a one-time fix. It could look like a long run or a hot bath, a night out with friends or curling up with a book. Whatever the case, figure out what self-care tactics work for you, and rest and rejuvenate before you experience full-fledged burnout.