I know you work hard to keep all the balls in the air in your business, but you might be working too hard in some cases. Don’t shake your head. I know that the work needs to get done, but is your overworking causing you to be less productive? And is it causing unhealthy levels of stress that can ultimately override all the great work you’ve done? The answer is probably yes. So let’s look at how you can refocus your energy and mindset to be more productive and reduce stress in your business.
When is the last time you took an entire day or weekend off? If it’s been a while, think about that. Could your business benefit from you taking off for a day or a whole weekend?
Thomas Edison, considered one of America’s great inventors, developed the electric light bulb, telephone systems, sound recording, and motion pictures. He had a widespread impact on the modern industrialized world. He was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of teamwork to the process of invention, working with many researchers and employees. He was also one of the first business leaders to write and teach the value to rest. He also was a huge proponent of power naps. Edison was known to take 1 or 2 naps a day. He used napping to counterbalance the intensity of his work.
If everything in your world comes after your business, it’s time to look at that. I get this is your business, and everything is riding on its success—but at what cost? Your constant grind could strain your health, personal relationships, and family connections. I’m the first person to flip into #beastmode to get major projects done. But pushing yourself when you are up against a huge deadline shouldn’t be your constant work situation. When you make work the main focus of your life and spare no time for yourself, you are bound to get a serious illness brought on by the stress of it all. Will it benefit you to have a wildly successful business and poor health, no one to share it with, and children who resent you? I don’t think so.
I remember one time when my son was about five years old. He put his little face down beside my laptop screen to talk to me to get my attention. It hurt me when I realized that my son was not feeling like a priority. (These days, I need to put my face beside his screen to get his attention, but we’ll talk about how much screen time teenagers have another day.) Bottom line: You don’t want your children or your spouse/partner to feel like they are last on your list.
I am not trying to discourage you from overworking from time to time. On the contrary, we all get hit with urgent deadlines and need to push hard to get things done. But you need to make sure that you don’t make a habit out of it. Otherwise, you could become a workaholic.
You also don’t want to be that parent that is always on the phone and never ‘present’. Find ways to turn it off. For example, I don’t sleep with my cellphone in my bedroom; that way, I’m not tempted to look at emails or messages until morning. You must work hard to be present when you do spend time with your family.
6 Tips for Reducing Stress in Your Business and Avoiding Burnout
Stress and burnout are the two major products of overworking that can cause many health-related problems in a person’s life.
Here are a few ways to reduce the amount of stress and burnout and stress in your business and life.
1. Stick to a Schedule
One of the best ways to get rid of burnout is to make yourself a daily to-do list at the end of the previous day. I call it my “5 before 11 lists.” Focus on just five tasks a day and try to get them done before 11 am. Don’t schedule any meetings or zoom calls before 11 am, so you are not interrupted. This way, you start your day working on your tasks and no one else’s. Oh… and don’t dip into email either.
Every workday should start with a list of every activity that must be performed that day. Then, you can sort activities on your daily to-do list to prioritize the closest-to-money activities first. One other thing that you need to note is the amount of time it takes for you to complete these activities. Therefore, the more you know about your ideal work hours, the better you’ll design the right time to tackle certain tasks.
It would be best if you also end your workday at a consistent time. If it’s 6 pm, keep it that.
2. Get a Hobby
Try finding something to do other than work. Try gardening, golf, salsa dancing, sewing, bodybuilding, or painting; anything that is not work-related. Find a reason to get out of the office and do an activity that can help you build a network and some new friends.
3. Determine Your Optimal Work Hours
A study from Columbia University Medical Center finds that lengthy periods of sedentary life (13 hours a day) doubles your chance of premature death. We’re better off working 11.5 hours, the study finds. Other research has found that people who work 55 hours or more per week have a higher risk of heart disease. And one of the latest pieces of research shows that people who put in long hours (10 hours per day for 50 days per year) have a 45 percent greater chance of having a stroke. You can’t continue like this. It is essential to find ways to keep yourself healthy.
One of the benefits of working for yourself is that you have the power to overhaul your ideal workweek. Start keeping a looser schedule on certain days of the week or working a 25 or 30-hours week when you can. The study authors suggest working fewer hours each day and allow the rest of the time to be dedicated to everything else we have going on in our lives. Just remember there are no awards for overworked business owners.
4. Get Moving
Exercise is the most important factor in having a healthy lifestyle. Experts suggest getting in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. For example, try taking a walk before you start your workday to get the blood flowing. Buy a stationary bike, subscribe to the Peloton App or do 25 push-ups (40 a day for men) a day, or duck out of the office early to meet a friend for coffee and a good healthy laugh.
By the way, push-ups are a hugely underrated strength-increasing exercise, but they are also a sign of heart health. A recent study from researchers at Harvard University found that a certain amount of push-ups were linked to fewer risks related to heart disease. In addition, the study concluded that “higher fitness levels would be associated with lower rates of incident cardiovascular disease.”
5. Make Simple Changes to Your Diet
Simple things like switching to whole grains from refined grain products benefit your body in about ten different ways, from lengthening your life span to helping reduce weight and increase your heart health. Here are some simple adjustments to your diet that can help:
- Make sandwiches with 100% whole wheat bread instead of white bread. It adds fiber & vitamins.
- Use mustard on sandwiches instead of mayo. Using mustard will cut calories and fat.
- Order coffee with low-fat milk, and no whip cream, to reduce calories.
- Skip the sugary breakfast. Instead, switch to oatmeal with skim or 1% milk instead of water to boost calcium and protein.
- Add a little ground flaxseed to smoothies. It adds fiber and omega 3 fatty acids.
- Stop eating iceberg lettuce. It provides no nutritional value. Try spinach or romaine.
- Reduce how much red meat you consume. Instead, eat fish a couple of times a week. It will provide mega omega 3 fatty acids.
- Drink unsweetened tea instead of sweetened tea or soda to reduce sugar intake
- Have pasta with tomato-based sauce instead of white sauce, boost your antioxidants with red sauce
- Order your sandwich or entrée with fruit, a side salad, or fresh veggies instead of fries to reduce calories
6. Invest in “Me Time’
When you are in business, you may have three full-time jobs; wife (or husband), mother, and business owner. This means you get very little, or no, time to yourself. So schedule “Me time.”
We all need to sit back and relax from time to time and do nothing. Catch up on your favorite TV shows, sleep, read, take a hot bath. Just do something you want to do that is not work-related. “Me time” doesn’t have to be a spa day. It could be just a few minutes in the middle of the day to jam out to your favorite Cardi B song if that’s all you have. Invest in this more than any other strategy in the blog article to reduce your stress and tendency to overwork.
You should be working in your business to live your dream life. If that’s not happening, it’s time to take a hard look at how you are spending your time in your business. The key is striking a balance between work and life. We must remember that we work to live, not live to work.
Do you have any ideas to avoid overworking?