One of the occupational hazards of running a one-person business is working all the time.
It’s not just crises like the COVID-19 pandemic that can trigger overwork. Sometimes, the joy of growing a business can become a trap.
“If you tend to be really passionate about your business, you may tend to become a workaholic. You will naturally end up expanding your day to its limit,” says Michael Peluso, founder of the True Living coaching program for entrepreneurs and Joinocity, a marketing and sales technology platform.
So how do you put the brakes on, when there’s no boss to help? Peluso, who advises entrepreneurs in his coaching practice, recommends these strategies.
Ask yourself one question: Am I exhausted? If you are feeling tired and run down, consider it an opportunity to make some changes in your lifestyle.
“Balance is a funny thing,” says Peluso. “You realize you’re out of balance because there’s some sort of pain there.”
Set a clear vision. One reason entrepreneurs get exhausted is they are spinning in too many different directions. “Unless you have a vision, you don’t really have an idea of where you’re headed,” says Peluso. “Most of the time, what you’re doing is avoiding what you don’t want, instead of creating what you do want.”
Giving regular thought to what you truly want to build in your business will help you say no to distractions. This is why many coaches focus so heavily on coming up with a clear vision.
Know your core values. Just as a business will have core values, your life probably has them, too—like “Family.” Keeping them top of mind will make it easier to make choices at work that support them. “Your core values are not something you go shopping for,” says Peluso.
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Quantifying how you will honor these core values in the coming week may be helpful. For instance, you may decide that you’ll honor the core value of “Family” by watching a movie with your spouse and kids on Saturday.
Put your calendar to work. Mapping out how you’ll spend each week can help you make more conscious choices about how you spend your time. If you block out the time after 7 pm as family time, for instance, you’ll have to think twice about staying at your desk until 11 pm.
Peluso recommends meditating before you work on your calendar. “Fall into a state of gratitude and ask yourself, ‘What will my life look like this week?’” he recommends. Only schedule things you’re willing to commit to.
Of course, a critical part of this is honoring your word—to yourself and the important people in your life. If you tell yourself you’re going to stop working at 7 pm but 8 pm rolls around and you’re still responding to emails, it’ll cause you to lose confidence in yourself.
“I decrease my believability in my self-discipline, and it erodes my ability to accomplish what I tell myself I’m going to accomplish,” says Peluso.
Put systems in place to make balance easier. Paying attention to how you handle basic habits of life like sleep, drinking water, breathing, thinking and exercise can help to reduce the overall exhaustion that can derail the best laid scheduling plans. “The goal is to standardize them, so you are full of energy,” says Peluso.
How do you standardize them? Let’s say you tend not to drink enough water. Simply keeping a water bottle on your desk every day can go a long way. The more you support your efforts with simple systems like this, the easier it will be to keep them up.
Keep fine-tuning. Changing your habits at work can take time. Take stock every week to see how well you are sticking to your agenda. Ask yourself if you hit the mark or not.
If there was some slippage, make some micro-adjustments for the following week, he recommends. Maybe, for instance, you need more of a time cushion between meetings.
Ultimately, doing what you say you’ll do – when you plan to do it – will help you build momentum in your business and your life—without leaving you tired and overworked. “Those little ‘micro-wins’ become a way to honor yourself on a larger scale,” he says.