As a business owner, you might find it difficult, if not impossible, to completely switch off. And yet, it is vital that you do so, for your own well-being and for the benefit of your company. Imagine if you did not ever power down your computer, eventually it would become sluggish or break down. You could be heading for a similar fate.
I ran my business with 20 employees for 11 years. The first few years were hard. My husband warned me, after he had run a business himself, that the hardest part was not being able to switch off. Your mind is constantly problem-solving, processing or innovating. Taking time out from this mind chatter is challenging.
In the end, I devised a number of strategies to help me “power down”.
– Have a separate workspace. If possible, work somewhere that you can close the door to every day and not have to enter again until the next morning. Do not be tempted to go back into the room to check emails. Set clear boundaries for yourself and your customers. Manage their expectations. If your website says you are open 9am to 5pm, then stick to those hours and save yourself the headache of numerous after-hours emails from people all expecting a response.
– Get a separate telephone for work. This can be a landline or mobile or both. Either way, switch them off at the end of the day. Divert the calls to an answering service if you can afford it. Treat the business as you would a job. Walk away from your desk and your phone at the same time. Looking at emails or text messages on your phone after hours will only exacerbate over-thinking.
– Set daily intentions. A lot of worry for business owners can be caused by overwhelm. There is always so much to think about and do. Isolate three things you must get done each day, treat them as urgent and resolve to complete them. Acknowledge when you have done so. Celebrate it even! This will help you to track your progress and feel more accomplished.
– Have a diverting morning routine. Running your own business can be all-consuming. If the business is on your mind first thing, it can be at the expense of your loved ones. Devise a routine that does not leave you distracted. Try to do something first thing in the morning which is totally unrelated to your business. Children and pets can usually help with this. Take the dog for a walk, or the children to school. Give them your full attention. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
– Take regular breaks. Running a business is exhausting. You need to manage your self-care as much as anything else. Schedule holidays and short breaks at the beginning of the year and organise cover at the same time. Use the time away to totally disconnect. Let your customers know you are out of the office and leave your work phone at home. I made the mistake of taking my phone with me on holiday to France once. A customer contacted me and I replied, letting her know I was away, but that didn’t stop her texting me again…If you do take a phone with you, switch off email notifications and any other means of contact you might use. Put in place a structure which will manage your absence.
Once I had all the above strategies in place, switching off became easier.
A routine is important, but discipline of the mind is vital. Be clear about your own boundaries; when and how you work. Take care to build and re-build your own resilience.
You are the powerhouse of your company and everything works better when you are fully charged.
“As important as it is to have a plan for doing work, it is perhaps more important to have a plan for rest, relaxation, self-care, and sleep.” ― Akiroq Brost