This is the second post in a two-part series on why entrepreneurs need to rest, relax and recharge.
What good are you to yourself or your business if you’re laid up by burnout?
A business can, at times, seem like a brand new baby you can’t turn your back on. Come to think of it, even a baby sleeps.
So how, pray tell, can you strike a balance between achieving business success and personal time?
A great place to start is by changing those ideas of what constitutes taking a break.
Some of us tend to be sort of all-or-nothing in our thinking. Time off only makes sense if it’s a week-long vacation or a full day off spent in a slow broil at the beach.
But life isn’t an ‘either-or’ deal.
Let’s take a look at some ways you can create those daily oases of calm and recovery during the hectic workday.
1: Don’t take no for an answer
First things first: put your foot down and refuse to take no for an answer.
When you need a break, but you tell yourself, no, because there’s just too much work to be done, it’s time for a change of mindset.
Programme your mind to accept only, yes, when it comes to taking regular breaks during the workday.
2: Set a break timer on your phone
Sometimes the work-harried entrepreneur needs a little reminder that it’s time to come up for air.
Create a schedule for regular breaks by programming your smartphone to trigger an alarm at regular intervals reminding you to take a breather.
When you are caught up in what you’re doing, not only is it easy to lose track of time, but you won’t voluntarily press the pause button.
An alarm will help you establish a culture of regular breaks. Soon enough, these breaks will become incorporated into your work routine.
3: Electronic embargo
Set aside times during the day, or after your substantive work period is finished, for device-free pockets of time.
Put the computer to sleep, slip the smartphone into a drawer, steer clear of the TV.
Use this time to read, catch up with the family or cook yourself a healthy meal.
Taking a blue-light break will not only spare your eyes but also allow your brain to reset within an environment that is less dominated by the noise of modern life.
4: 10 minutes
When you’re focused or in the zone, it’s easy to be shackled by the fear that if you step away from the computer your train of thought will be derailed.
More often than not, stepping away from a problem or something you’re working on, even if briefly, adds the clarity of distance and space.
A decent stretching routine or brisk walk up and down the stairs can get the blood flowing again and stimulate new ideas or a different take on that one stubborn challenge.
5: Tea time
Maybe a cup of tea isn’t your…cup of tea. The point here is to schedule something pleasant or relaxing.
This should preferably be something you can look forward to, so your brain and fingers can have a rest.
Some people like to enjoy a quiet moment with a cup of tea or maybe a coffee with biscuits (cookies?) away from the desk.
Your preference might be for a healthy snack. The idea here is to just give yourself a moment where the gears in your mind can cool for a bit.
Before you get carried away with ideas of awkward, pretzel-type lotus poses on a yoga mat, meditation comes in many forms.
In its simplest representation, meditation can be a few minutes of sitting quietly.
You don’t need to research any fancy mantras to meditate meaningfully. If anything, when you meditate, it’s meant to function as the absence of noise and activity.
Just chose a quiet place in your home or office, close your eyes for a few minutes and breathe deeply.
Doing this periodically throughout your day can do wonders to restore balance.
7: A musical interlude
Not everyone is a music lover. If you are, though, taking a brief musical interlude is a great way to cool your brain down for a few minutes by doing something you enjoy.
It’s better if you can listen to the music on your phone rather than playing it as background sounds on your computer. This way you will give your eyes a rest from staring constantly at the screen. Your brain will also have an opportunity to focus on something other than the work at hand.
For entrepreneurs with extreme demands on their time, it’s all the more important to carve out dedicated time during your day for physical exercise.
It doesn’t have to involve membership at a swanky gym. If a brisk stroll in a neighbourhood park or sweatin’ it out on a stairmaster at home will do it for you then that’s great.
Getting the blood pumping offsets the less-than-desirable effects of sitting in place for hours on end working over a computer.
If you’re serious about entrepreneurial success, you need to prepare your body and mind for the rigours of this way of life.
Blocking out time for regular exercise is one of the best investments you can make in your business.
9: Dear Diary
Keeping a journal or diary is a great way to take a break from the duties of the day and chronicle your entrepreneurial journey.
Entries in your diary needn’t be restricted to your business. This exercise is also useful to record your development as a person. You can note your victories, disappointments, moments of ennui and epiphanies.
Choose the time of day that’s best for journaling and settle with an established book where you’ll make your entries.
Who knows, that journal could be the beginnings of a bestselling book?
10: Take time to laugh
What does that mean…taking time to laugh?
Laughing triggers all sorts of biological processes in the brain and body. A good session of laughter releases feel-good endorphins. This promotes feelings of happiness which counteract the destructive forces of stress on the body.
You can phone a friend who has time for a quick, lighthearted chat. The Internet is never short on video clips of someone somewhere in the world doing something hilariously silly.
If you’re worried about getting caught up in conversations or funny videos, put a timer of 10 minutes on getting your laugh on, then head back to work.
The time is now
So many entrepreneurs wait for the timing to be right, they fail to realise that the timing will never be right.
Building a business from the ground up can be an all-consuming affair. Even in your sleeping hours, your mind is constantly clicking over with ideas on the next big thing.
That’s why it is important to enforce downtime.
Don’t wait until the circumstances are just right. Don’t leave it until there’s enough money in your bank account or your client stable is nicely crowded.
Establishing a routine of regular pauses during every workday builds an excellent mental equilibrium.
Downtime isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. It’s time you started treating it that way.