One thing about wild women entrepreneurs–we “work hard, play harder”. But while that fortune cookie philosophy is useful advice, it’s not as easy as it sounds to live it. Even more than someone working a typical 9-to-5 job, small business owners are invested heavily in their jobs–financially and emotionally. It’s easy to become overworked and burnt out. Too much stress can affect you physically and mentally, and can damage your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. Here are a few tips to help manage the stress that comes with being self-employed:
- Delegate. Contrary to what you think, you do not have to do it all yourself. Outsource those tasks that are mundane or that you aren’t as skilled at. Check out our previous posts for more information on outsourcing and hiring rockstars to be part of your team and take a load off your shoulders.
- Build in “Moments of Zen”. When starting a business, you are often working 18 or more hours a day to get things up and running. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to allow that pace to continue even after your initial start up. If you must work long hours, remember to set aside time during the day to just STOP. Take 5 minutes every hour to just stretch, breathe, meditate, watch a funny YouTube video–whatever it takes to calm your mind. You’ll feel better and as a bonus, you’ll be more focused and productive.
- Say no. One of the great things about being successful is that you have a lot of work. One of the drawbacks is that you have A LOT of work. Entrepreneurs often have a Superhero complex, and feel that they can do and be all. Remind yourself that it is okay to just say no. Don’t take on more than you can reasonably handle. It is far better to tell a potential client that you are not in a position to take on their job at the moment than to say yes and do a poor job because you are overwhelmed.
- Take a vacation. A real vacation. Expedia.com recently released a survey that found that 19% of Americans postponed or canceled vacation due to work-related issues, while 30% feel work stress while on vacation. So book a ticket to paradise and leave behind your Droid, your laptop, and anything else that will tempt you to work instead of have fun. If you must, leave the number for the place where you are staying with a trusted colleague or employee and instruct them not to call unless the business is on fire. Literally on fire.
- Get help. If despite your best efforts you find that you just cannot stop working, perhaps you need professional help. Working can be as addictive as gambling or shopping, and there are people who can help. Contact your local Workaholics Anonymous chapter or a licensed therapist to help you learn how to separate your work life from your personal life. Your body will thank you, as will your family and friends.
What do you do to minimize stress while working? Share with us your best tips!