by Deborah Hartung, founder of Pivot PeopleTech
Take some advice from those clichés you know are true! --- We’ve all heard the sayings and tend to make fun of the instructions like, ‘put the oxygen mask on yourself before attempting to help other passengers’ or, my personal favourite, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. We can make fun of these and other clichés about rest, but they are true and we all need to pay a little more attention to finding that balance between work and life – especially as women entrepreneurs – in order to avoid burnout and to be better versions of ourselves.
1. Recharge your Batteries
This picture I stumbled upon on my Facebook newsfeed says it all. It hits you right in the gut, doesn’t it? For me, it was a major ‘aha’ moment as Oprah used to call them. Like most entrepreneurs living in the digital age, I am always on my phone and I am always connected. I love the fact that I can work from anywhere, at any time and I do everything on my phone – maintain my website, write blog posts for my personal blog, invoice clients and keep track of expenses, manage all my social media accounts. And if you’re wondering, yes, I am writing this from my phone too, thanks to the wonder that is Microsoft Office 365. I have to plug my phone in to charge at least twice a day or my battery will run out and I won’t be able to do all the things that I have to. We all do it! We plug our phones in and recharge them because else they just don’t work properly. The screen resolution is lower, some apps don’t work properly, we cannot connect to the internet as fast because ‘low battery mode’ tries to conserve energy and makes it so that the phone just doesn’t work at an optimal level.
You’re not a smartphone! You don’t have a ‘low battery’ mode. You are an entrepreneur and you are probably working 12 to 18 hour days. You may have a day job and be launching your dream as a side hustle. You’re someone’s friend or partner or mother – or possibly all of those things – and you need to take some time out to ‘recharge your batteries’ as it were.
I know it’s not always possible to get as much sleep as the experts recommend and I know you have a million things on your to do list, but you have to make some time to rest and recharge your batteries – even if it is half an hour a day that you set aside for ‘you’. It may be early in the morning before the entire family has woken up or it may be late in the evening when everyone else has gone to sleep. Whenever the time is, you need to make a plan. No phones or tablets or laptops and no TV or family or responsibility. Just you and your favourite beverage to relax and unwind with. Use the time to meditate or journal about how your day was or how you are feeling and what you are grateful for. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you use this time to practice mindfulness and to be completely present in a moment of rest and reflection. You will emerge feeling energised and motivated!
2. Work Smarter, not Harder
I’ve written and talked about this so many times before. You cannot and should not be doing it all and you definitely shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to be the perfect partner and mother and businesswoman. Working as an entrepreneur isn’t always easy. We work hard and it’s often a lonely road and we don’t always have a lot of support, so we end up doing most things ourselves and even as we scale our businesses, we continue to perpetuate this really bad habit.
The trick is to start managing our time better and to look at prioritising properly. Use the ‘importance vs urgency” framework to manage your to-do list and start learning to use any number of (free!) tools and apps that are available to make your life easier. My life has changed since I started using Wave App for invoicing and for scanning my receipts to keep track of my expenses. Since I started using Yva, a free AI assistant that scans my mails (from all my various email accounts) for possible action items and then sends me a daily reminder of tasks that I may have to attend to, I am not so stressed about dropping catches. Spend some time and do some research. Speak to other business owners and follow tech blogs to learn about all the amazing tools that we have at our disposal to help automate tasks or reclaim some of our precious time.
3. Let your Hair Down
Yes, Rapunzel! You know it’s important to have fun sometimes and not worry about the stress of work and the pressure that you put on yourself to constantly do better and be better. You need to get out and have some fun – no matter what your definition of ‘fun’ is and you need to spend time with the people who remind you who you are and who make you feel good about yourself and about your journey in this life. Do the things that energize you and make you feel like the best version of yourself. Spend time with people who make you feel invincible and who make you laugh so much that it hurts. One day when you’re in your twilight years, you won’t fondly recall the nights you were working in your little corner to meet a deadline or times you lost sleep over silly little things. So get out there, have some fun and make some memories that you will recall with a smile one day when you look back on your life and the legacy you have built.
It’s going to take some time and some planning, but you can definitely make time to find a more healthy balance between work and life. Do it for your health. Do it for your sanity and stress levels – your future self is already thanking you for loving yourself enough to take time out to rest.
Deborah Hartung is a consultant, coach, author and speaker, and the founder of Pivot PeopleTech. She loves helping entrepreneurs find their unique voice and leadership style in order to empower them to create amazing places where people truly want to work. She has spent the majority of her career in HR and labour relations management and consulting, gaining experience in all fields related to the human experience in the workplace. While her main focus remains on consulting, coaching and training in the HR and labour relations space, Deborah is passionate about people and technology and the opportunities for the advancement of humanity in the digital age. Professionally, Deborah is known as an HR turnaround specialist with a proven track record in improving workplace culture, employee engagement and organisational effectiveness. www.pivotpeopletech.co.za
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