Acheiving A Work-Life Balance…
And what Leicester City FC can teach us about it (read till the end to find out).
As a business owner there are rarely times where you switch off. Can you relate? I don’t know about you but I am always thinking about what is the next thing I can do to drive the business forward, how I can add more value, how can I help someone else. I am go go go, if I get an idea I can be writing for hours without realising, even when I am out I get ideas from other businesses and then have to write it down so I remember to look at it later. And I freaking LOVE it! I enjoy what I do. And if there was one thing that I would say about how to avoid burnout as a business owner it would be to make sure you are doing something you enjoy. However there are times when I feel completely wiped out, low on energy, the ideas just aren’t there, the implementation of the ideas just aren’t there. And so the question will always come up of how do I make sure I am on fire all the time and how do I avoid burnout?
As a business owner who wants to really grow and take their business to the next level its perceived that they have to “work” 24 hours a day. It is in fact glorified by the media. “This guy got to this heights because he works so hard, he works 22 hours a day has 2 hours sleep and gets back on it.” And quite frankly the person that works more, if time was the only factor, would always be more successful. But in actual fact the person only sleeping a couple hours a night won’t last long, they will burn out, lose motivation for what they do and give up. Why?
It’s NOT becasue they were working too hard.
It’s becasue they didn’t recover!
Is it ok to have a super late night, or even pull an all nighter to make sure you launch a vital product for your business by a certain deadline? As a business owner, I am sure you know it happens. In fact it even happens when working for other people. At least this way its on your business. Maybe we need to get better at planning, or perhaps we just enjoy leaving things to the last minute. Anyway, does this happen occasionally, yes. Can you recover from it, yes (well probably, I have no research to back this up). IF its every now and again. If its your daily routine not to sleep then you won’t last long.
Stress Is A Good Thing… To A Certain Point
Being stressed challenges us, forces us to grow and thats a good thing. But chronic stress, when you are “stressed” 24/7 will lead you down the path of burnout pretty quickly.
How To Find Balance
When people tell me that they think that I work too hard, I simply smile, maybe a have a little laugh, and be like “sure”. Especially when its said by someone who has a 9-5 and spends most of that time on Facebook.
Having a good “work life balance” for me is not about working 9 hours then relaxing for 9 hours. Its not about spending the same amount of time in each activity.
It is about the quality of the time spent in each activity.
For instance I know people who get more “work” done in an hour than others do in the full day. They focus on the specific tasks that will drive their business forward and then implement them with energy and get them done! It’s the same with down time. You can recover more in 20 minutes of meditation than you do with 3 hours of watching TV.
How to recover and recharge?
There are loads of ways. I will talk about a few.
Plan Your Down Time
You should plan your rest and social time as well as your work day. You plan your work day right? if you don’t you should be, thats a conversation for another day. What are you doing with your down time? Spending time with friends and family or crashed out on the sofa watching TV? Don’t get me wrong I love an evening doing this, watching a box set of something, but it’s not the best way to recover.
Do FUN stuff, plan fun stuff. If you have kids go out and play with them. Plan trips with friends, evenings out with friends. This is kind of like active recovery for the mind. The mind is still engaged, but you are allowing it to recover. Plan date night with your partner! Make it a weekly thing, and stick to it, don’t stay in either, go out somewhere, doesn’t have to be a fancy restaurant every time, just get out. Why? Because if you stay in you will either end up working or watching TV. Am I right? Or is that just me?
Again its not about spending 9 hours out to dinner with friends. But the quality of that time is huge. One to two hours with good friends, enjoying good conversation, will allow your mind to recover more than the 5 hours watching TV.
Unplug from the world of emails and social media for a day. Perhaps a Saturday or Sunday where there is probably less going on anyway. Try it. Turn your phone off, or put it in another room so you don’t think about it. It may stress you out a little to begin with, but when you do this it allows the mind to recover. You may even find you get more ideas, just out of the blue, why? Becasue your mind is not focused on emails and Facebook, its now getting to work on questions that matter.
Go On Holiday
And when you do, switch off your emails, restrict time on your phone looking at Facebook etc. Go to places that you have always wanted to go. Go to new places, go experience different cultures. Go on active holidays, go surfing, sailing, cycling.
I remember being told that a holiday should not just be a pat on the back for a job well done, it should be seen as preparation for the next block of work thats coming. Using holidays as a reward for achieving goals is a great idea, but just remember, the holiday is about recovery and getting you focused for the next batch of awesome work you are going to smash out.
I am not going to lie, I am going away on holiday tomorrow, and the idea of switching off from the business scares me every time. I am never fully switched off, I will always be engaged, but not in the day to day running of the business. It normally takes a couple of days to adjust and a bit of willpower to not check emails, but after a few days I love it. I should also add here though, even when I am on holiday I am learning, I take books with me to devour, and find new ideas. Some would call this work. I call it learning and learning for me is enjoyable, it is total recovery for me. Do I get ideas about the business when I am away, yes, do I write them down, yes. In fact some of my best ideas and plans have come from when I have been away and not focused on the business.
Some forms of meditation have been shown to help you recover more than going into a deep sleep. It helps you be more productive, have more energy, more creative and this isn’t just be saying so, its all backed by research. Check out this post I wrote on it, click here.
Staying fit, working out and eating well will give your body more and more energy. If you are unhealthy then you will struggle. There are so many studies showing that exercise and good nutrition helps you be more productive, have more energy, be more creative, be in a better mood, it is now silly to avoid it.
However, stress is stress, exercise is a form of stress. Again, theme of today, make sure you allow your self to recover.
Sleep is important! Lots of business owners are sleeping much less than they should and others are sleeping much more than they should and still complaining how they don’t have enough time…..12 hours sleep is not essential. Anyway….sleep is important, good sleep as well. How much sleep you need is really individual to you. Sleep is where your mind and body recovers, but more isn’t always better.
Know What Is Important To You
This is key in making sure you don’t burnout. If for example the most important thing to you in the world is spending time with you kids, and you have your business set up in a way that you never see your kids, then you will very quickly start to resent your business. Your business takes away from the thing that matters most. Make sense? If however you have your business set up in a way so you can maximise the time spent with your kids and still grow your business then you will love it, because it allows you to do the things that are important to you.
Remember, thats what the business is there for, to allow you live the way you want to live.
We all get 24 hours in a day!
It’s how you use those 24 hours that matters. At the begining of this post I talked about, if time were the only factor then the person who worked more would always be more successful. How you use your time at work is a huge factor in moving your business forward, and that is something I will talk about in an upcoming post. But working 20 hours a day on stuff that isn’t progressing the business is not helping and that’s what most business owners do with out realising.
What Leicester City FC Can Teach You About Recovery
As I have said throughout this post, recovery is the key. It’s not that you work too hard, its that you don’t allow yourself to recover.
When you are an elite athlete so much time is spent on recovery. Look at Leicester City FC, winning the Premier League this year, a team that no one expected to be anywhere near the top. What did they do differently? Well one thing is that they are the only team to use Cryotherapy as a part of their recovery process. They had the least amount of injuries last season, and the most consistent starting 11 on the pitch. Would that make a difference? You bet!
They worked just as hard as every other team in the league, the difference was in the recovery.
You are trying to be an elite athlete in business! Focus on your recovery time.
I hope you found this article interesting, and got some value from it. If you did then please share it with others, spread the word and lets get help small business owners everywhere build a business and a life that they love!