To misquote the words of Charles Dickens, running your own business can be ‘the best of times, and the worst of times’. There will be periods when you feel on top of everything and you are clear about where you’re heading, but the next week you’ll feel overwhelmed and not sure if you’re coming or going, with a To-Do List that just keeps growing and no sign of feeling in control again. But whether you are flying high, or struggling to cope, it is essential that you are at your best to be able to deal with whatever comes your way. And, being at your best means ensuring that you maintain a balanced lifestyle. In this blog I wanted to share my top tips for establishing the most effective base on which to find that balance which in turn will help you be at the best for both you and your business…
1. The Off Button
As tempting as it can be to work late into the night, or all over the weekend, it is important that there is a distinction between your working and personal life. It is a common thought that the more hours you put in the more productive you are, but research shows this isn’t always the case. For many business owners who work from home this is a situation that is all the more easy to find yourself in. To be at your freshest and most productive you need to create breaks and time for other activities which give your brain an alternative focus and allow it to regroup its thoughts about your business. So, set breaks in your calendar for exercise, lunch and most importantly an End Of Working Day time.. and stick to it– you and your business will benefit!
2. Time Off
Running a business is challenging and your weeks can turn into months or even years of hard graft before you realise that you’ve not had any time off. It is so important to take proper time away from your business, maybe have a holiday, but most importantly to relax and spend time with loved ones. In doing so, you can gain fresh perspectives and reconnect with people outside of your work circle. It’s often forgotten that the impact of running your own business can be felt throughout your family, so they will also benefit from having you share their time off too.
3. The Office
In keeping with the theme of my first two tips about separating work and personal life, another tool to help you achieve this is to set aside a specific work area – your ‘office’. It allows you to focus, and deliver your best work, because let’s face it, if you’re sat on the sofa trying to work with the TV on, it’s tempting to just check what’s on, isn’t it?
Studies have shown that sleep is vital for many brain functions, and a lack of sleep negatively affects our concentration levels. As a business owner, you want to be focused and able to make the best decisions for your business, which means a good night’s sleep is essential. For those that struggle drifting off, put your digital devices down an hour before you go to bed. This will help your brain start to unwind. And for those of you who wake in the night with work thoughts racing through your brain, try writing down what you need to do tomorrow before you go to bed. It can help clear your mind and help you get a restful night’s sleep.
5. Eat Well to live well
A balanced diet with the right mix of vitamins and minerals, alongside keeping hydrated with plenty of water, will make sure that you’re looking after yourself from the inside out. This supports your mind and body to function at its optimum. Easy to advise, but I accept it can be less easy to follow, and even if you do follow my advice that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in your favourite treats once in a while!
Keep a check on how much caffeine and alcohol you’re having as both of these are system disruptors which, if drunk in high quantities, may throw you out of balance. For those who find sleep elusive, both caffeine and alcohol can have a major effect upon sleep patterns so it would be worth checking your consumption and cutting down if you can.
7. Socialising not networking
It can be really easy to slip into surrounding yourself with people who are associated with your business, be it colleagues, employees or associates you have met as a result of your work. But this can be an unhealthy position to be in whereby your social life becomes an extension of your working day/week and you never get that down time, as the conversations invariably become work oriented. Try therefore to keep some of the friends in your social circle completely unrelated to your business, and when you spend time with them, work will hopefully be the last thing on your mind.
8. Be True to You
My last tip to share is probably one of the most important. Whatever you do, in your business or personal life, make sure that it is a true reflection of who you are as a person, and doesn’t compromise your own values. If ever you need to check in with yourself on this point, pause and ask yourself, ‘will this decision sit comfortably with me in 5 years time?’ It often provides the reality check you need to make the right decision for you.
It’s important to remember that you will never run your business to the best of your ability unless you have a healthy lifestyle, with the right balance between work commitments, family, time off, and everything else that life can throw your way! Finding this balance can be tricky, but once you start to achieve it, you should soon find that the path ahead becomes clearer, and you can make better decisions with more clarity than ever before.