The Top Tip For Running Your Own Business – Be Kind To Yourself!

Being a freelancer or solopreneur means we put our heads down and have to work hard, very hard for what we want.  However, as fun and rewarding as it can be, we often forget to come up for air.  We’re so focussed in what we’re doing that we forget that a healthy life needs more than just work.

Hustle yes, but with balance!

I love the word ‘Hustle’.  I revel in that accomplished feeling of getting things done.  No really, I’m that geek that likes to physically tick off her to-do-list (it gives me such perverse pleasure that sometimes I will add things on my list that I didn’t account for just so I can tick it off!)  However at the moment it seems ‘hustle’ is being overused and celebrated for working yourself into the ground.  It has become somewhat of a bragging right.

Yes – absolutely you need to take consistent action and pull out all the stops if you want success, however running your own business can take its toll if we don’t look after ourselves, and if we don’t look after ourselves how are we expected to win the end game?

Just before the summer I was suffering from complete overwhelm.  I had just come up with a new idea for my business and after all the initial excitement, all of a sudden it completely struck me how much I had to do which would challenge me and push me past my comfort zone.  So much so, I hit a complete block.  I knew what to do, I had planned and allocated time in my day for tasks but I would just sit down and stare at a blank screen.

The more I wanted to get things done, the more I would struggle.  My brain had ‘too many tabs open’ and was constantly whirring, I couldn’t stop thinking about the 1001 things I should be getting done but wasn’t.  I had trouble sleeping, I couldn’t focus and I was feeling the physical effects of stress.

However I know that I’m not the only one who hits this block.  So rather than persist fruitlessly, wasting more time and creating more stress, it became clear I needed to change my course of action!  I took a decision to ‘shut down the tabs’ that weren’t benefitting me and to be kind to myself.  We often forget to do this, particularly during times of stress or urgency but without sounding woo-woo here, sometimes we need to nurture ourselves with a little self-care to get us back on track and here’s how.

  1. Procrastination isn’t as evil as we believe.

Instead of beating ourselves up when it happens, procrastination can actually be a good thing!  Ironically (whilst procrastinating of course) I was reading an article on how to boost your productively (read it here) which includes Adam Grant’s TED Talk on ‘The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers’.  He actually says that those who procrastinated before starting their tasks often came up with the most original ideas!  At least that’s how I try and convince myself when an impending deadline looms!!  However if I find that I can’t get the task done straight away, I don’t push it any more.  I know I will pull out all the stops to deliver on time and within deadline, but if a little creative break helps I take it, or I choose to watch a TED Talk which also inspires me with new ideas – then at least I’m ticking the personal development item on my to-do list.

  1. Get creative and play!

Kids teach us the best lessons sometimes – play time is an essential part of life. Sometimes we need to balance out how we’re using our brains in order to make them work more effectively.  Having to constantly think about all aspects of our business, doing another unrelated activity can be a welcomed break.  Tap into your inner child and play – take a class, join a group.  Whether you paint, draw, colour or bake simply create, shake off the usual restraints and learn to free yourself.  That time you take out can help refresh your brain by using another part of it and make you more productive.   After suffering from writers block, I managed to churn out four blog posts in one day after a creative art class!

  1. Look after yourself and your health

Diet and exercise are all very important to incorporate into your lifestyle if you want to be able to endure the physical tolls of working for yourself.  In addition, remember to treat yourself from time to time with activities that give you joy.  Take in plenty of fresh air and enjoy the outdoors.  If you’re prone to stress book in a massage or if money is tight block out time for a luxurious bath time ritual – scented bath products, candles, music, maybe a glass of wine and a book.   Last week it was our one day of summer.  I was hot and bothered travelling across the city for meetings and all I could think about was the long list of things I had to do on my return back to my desk.  I noticed I was feeling agitated and stressed which isn’t productive, so I changed my mood by picking up two cupcakes from the station, made myself a pot of tea even used a cup and saucer (oooh fancy!) and sat outside in the sunshine for 20 minutes before settling into work.  Not only did this help my Vitamin D deficiency but I was able to work more productively and longer than pushing through being worn out and worn down.

  1. Spend time with the people who make you happy.

Surround yourself with those who lift you.  Whilst it’s important to achieve your goals it shouldn’t come at the cost of neglecting loved ones.  Working 24/7 may be a necessity for some but the business will always be there, time with those precious to us goes quickly.  The wonderful benefit of working for yourself is that you can be more flexible with your time.  Meet your friends for lunch, or take your folks to the cinema.  There is a wonderful documentary on Netflix called Happy.  It found that one of the key recipes for happiness are the relationships and community around us, so it’s important to remain involved whether that be with family, friends, charity work, or community.  Find your tribe and love them hard!

  1. Embrace the digital detox

If I’m taking a time out for a coffee in between meetings, I love to people watch.  Yet have you noticed how we’re always looking down at our phones?  As if we weren’t looking at our screens long enough with work, even whilst we’re walking down the street, in the shops, with our friends we’re glued to those pesky screens.  Texts, social media, emails, this constant access just consumes us and let’s face it, it’s just plain rude at times when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone who won’t put their phone away.  So switch off your notifications, check your emails and social media at specific times, take breaks from the screen, put your phones away/on silent especially if you’re on holiday – close down those pesky tabs.  If it’s an emergency – someone will actually call you rather than tweet you and leave a message.  You miss so much when you’re not looking up, so heads up!

  1. Remember and celebrate how well you’re doing!

We all have so much to do in such little time that sometimes with this constant grind we need to be reminded how far we’ve actually come.  An accountability partner is a great way to ensure you’re moving forwards – check in, talk about your goals, what actions need to be taken, what you need to deliver and then set a date for the next check in to evaluate your progress.  This can be such a valuable exercise especially during months, where naturally in business things haven’t gone to plan.  An accountability partner can also help find the positive in the progress you are making whilst setting each other tasks or provide recommendations or advice to help get you back on track to get the job done!

After taking some of positive steps above, I was able to get back on track.  It wasn’t easy to do, it took small steps every day but helped create a big change.  My enthusiasm and drive returned, I was again productive and more things off that pesky list were being completed.  I’m finally seeing progress and I’m excited again to be working on my business.

How are you kind to yourself?

We need to remember that this exciting adventure of working for ourselves also needs us to function at our best level so let’s share what little steps we can take us there.  How do you show yourself kindness and what tips or activities can you recommend?

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