If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work you do, you’re not alone: the U.S is the most overworked developed nation in the world. We work more hours, have less vacation, and have the worst parental leave laws in the industrialized world, and there’s no sign that things are slowing down. If you’re a small business owner, you’re definitely feeling all this pressure and more.
It’s not going to get easier anytime soon, so how exactly do you prevent burnout?
The good news is that there are conscious, concrete steps you can take to keep yourself (and your business!) on track. Here are 3 ways to reclaim your time today.
Prioritize Your Health
First things first, you need to make sure your physical health is a priority. Getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly are HUGE parts of staying productive in your work life.
“Getting healthy will be a huge part of your success as an entrepreneur,” we’ve reported. “Even though we live in a relentless work culture, ignoring your health will have short-term and long-term repercussions.”
The benefits of regular exercise are substantial. Even a stretch break every hour away from your computer or a walk during your lunch break will improve your quality of sleep, reduce your risk of blood clots and other health problems, and lift your spirits.
Taking care of your health will improve your time away from work, as well. The quality of the time you have away from your business is as important as the quantity. Imagine coming home and not being exhausted. Imagine waking up and not pressing the snooze button. It’s possible if you prioritize your health!
Make Conscious Separations
This is, perhaps, the most important and most difficult step you can take to reclaim your time. You need to make sure that your time at work is fully focused on work, and your time at home is fully dedicated to being present.
Dr. Deb Knobelman explains it well in her article on Medium, “You Need To Keep Your Mind In One Place At A Time.” After struggling with guilt and other difficulties when returning from maternity leave, she realized that “Over time, I learned to redirect my thoughts. To stop thinking about what I should do. And tell myself, this is where I am. This is what I’m doing right now. There is no right or wrong. There is no perfect parent or a perfect worker. I am doing the best I can. And leave it at that.”
Having a strong work/life separation can be incredibly difficult. It’s tempting to try constantly think ahead to your next step for both environments. Furthermore, entrepreneurs are under a lot of pressure to always be “on” and constantly grinding.
This is a huge mistake! By splitting your emotional and mental energy, you’re just going to do a worse job at all tasks. It’s unfortunate but true.
Try to practice mindfulness and really give your all to each task you perform. If you find yourself stressing out and thinking ahead, redirect your thoughts to the task at hand. Make a note and give yourself the room to brainstorm solutions to problems in a set time later.
“I’d never had my thoughts split in two places like that before. I spent a lot of time, in the beginning, reacting to each thought as it came up,” said Dr. Knobelman. Focusing on negative thoughts “undermines your ability to focus on the task at hand.”
It takes some work and practice, but if you can make those distinctions between your personal and private life, you’ll be able to make your time away from work as meaningful as possible.
If you’re making your health a priority and consciously separating your time at work from your time at home, you’re heading in the right direction to reclaim your time. However, sometimes, all your efforts just aren’t going to be enough.
That’s when it’s time to outsource. Outsourcing is easier than ever, thanks to the Internet, and “the good news is this will still save you money and time in the long run, especially as a startup, since outsourcing saves you the cost of in-person office spaces, training, insurance, and other expenses of in-person employees,” says Answer 1.
Some tasks are essential for the daily operations of a business, like administrative work and call answering. However, these tasks eat up your time and distract you from the crucial work of your business.
The average office employee spends around 4 hours a day on interruptions, with 80% of those interruptions being considered “little or no value”, according to People HR.
Eliminate interruptions! Reclaim your time by hiring professionals to handle the monotonous to-dos while you focus on the work that really makes your business.
Moving Forward With More Time for Your Business
Time is a precious and limited resource. As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you’re no stranger to hard work, but you need to put yourself first.
Reclaim your time by improving the quality of your health, making strong distinctions between work and home, and outsourcing non-essential tasks. Your business, your loved ones, and your future self will all thank you. Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.