If you make just one resolution this year, let it be to put yourself first. Too many small business owners work themselves to the bone, burning the candle at both ends, sometimes for years at a stretch. Your body and mind need time to recover from a hard day’s work, and there’s no shame in taking care of yourself.
I know how tempting it can be to try and “do it all” when you’re in charge of everything about your work. Trust me when I say I have been there before. I have learned to resist the urge to spend every spare moment working on my business. There’s no benefit to be had if you burn yourself out and begin to hate what you were once passionate about! Try implementing some of my strategies below into your daily routine, bit by bit. Maybe change one thing a week until you form healthier habits. You’d be surprised how much a few small changes can add up when it comes to improving your work-life balance!
Set work hours, and stick to them!
Even if you work from home, set your “office hours”, and be sure to get up and walk away from the never-ending pile of work when your day “ends”. You can set these hours to correspond to your most productive work times or around when you’d like to be spending time with family instead. For myself, I have two main work hour rules: no working at night, and no working on the weekend. I let all my clients know when they can expect to hear from me, and when I’ll be off. By sticking to my hours, I ensure that I don’t overwork myself.
Get into a regular sleep schedule
Being well rested and having a proper amount of sleep has been proven to increase creativity and productivity, so make sleep a priority in your life. You aren’t a teenager anymore, so it’s time to leave the all-nighters behind and plan work around your daytime schedule. I always make sure that I go to bed early, so that I can get up early and start a productive day. Combined with setting regular work hours, this helps build a daily routine that will structure your day for maximum productivity.
Invest in yourself
Everyone needs downtime, and that’s especially true for busy entrepreneurs. What would you most like to do if you could find more spare time? Read for fun? Take a class? The trick is to simply schedule “free time” into your day, and defend it from being taken over by work. Save a block of time a few days a week that is only for self-care and enjoyment. Do something you’ve always wanted to do!
Take care of your body and mind
Too many of us take our health for granted, until we lose it. Make sure to take care of yourself, physically and mentally. Your business will do better in the long run if you keep yourself healthy and happy. I’ve written about my own yoga routine before, but any kind of exercise that you can enjoy on a daily basis for even a short amount of time is great. Even getting out for a 20- to 30-minute walk outside every day has huge benefits for your health. I would also recommend trying transcendental meditation every day, or some other mindfulness technique that works for you.
Prioritize family time
In our busy, work-obsessed culture, it’s far too easy to push family time aside in favor of more “important” tasks. This is such a mistake! What could be more important than spending time with your family? Whether that means date nights with your partner, spending time with your kids, or phoning your mom or dad to chat for a while, you need to prioritize family time. Don’t become that stereotypical entrepreneur who misses all the important milestones as their children grow, or becomes disconnected from their partner. Even though it can seem like it sometimes as a small business owner, you aren’t actually married to your work!
I hope I’ve convinced you to really take a good, hard look at your work habits and figure out how to put yourself first this year. Most small business owners I know could use some adjustment to their work-life balance, and could take better care of themselves. That’s also something that hiring a virtual assistant can help you with! Having someone else to take on work you can’t get to will help you stick to your work hours more effectively, and prevent you working overtime. Are there any other strategies for putting yourself first that you swear by? I’d love to hear them in the comments!