Working round the clock, doing the job of a whole team singlehandedly and beating yourself up over every missed networking opportunity might sound like necessary evils when you’re starting out, but failing to give yourself time to rest will harm you and your business. Here are five top tops for putting aside the worry and getting some essential shuteye.
1. Work on your productivity.
It might sound obvious, but try to focus on working better, not longer. One problem that many entrepreneurs face is not knowing when to call it a night, especially if they work from home. Humans have a habit of stretching any task to fill the time they have, so once you decide that you are categorically taking a lunch break, or that you are going to stop work at 7pm no matter what, you’ll be amazed at how much more you can squeeze into the time you have. Also, make the last thing you do in your working day to make a quick, realistic to-do list for tomorrow. This will help you to feel more organised, in control and calm about your workload, allowing you to switch off and enjoy your downtime before bed.
2. Get used to saying no.
Accepting every invitation that comes through the door will just knacker you out. You don’t have to turn up to every launch, opening or awards ceremony and, if you have colleagues and co-directors, you can always take it in turns to go to the dull stuff. Don’t feel that you have to stay for the whole event – just stick it out for long enough to speak to the right people and make a discreet exit when you’re done.
3. Look after yourself.
It’s so, so easy to get trapped in a vicious circle of sleeping badly, dealing with exhaustion with caffeine, cigarettes and junk food, which in turn makes your sleep even worse. Don’t skip exercise, especially if you’re shattered. As well as improving sleep patterns, taking a brisk walk or nipping to the gym or pool when you’re feeling jaded gets your brain working again, improves your mood and can helps you untangle a problem that you’d otherwise sit staring at for hours.
4. Treat your smartphone with suspicion.
Smartphones can be one of the most valuable weapons in your entrepreneurial arsenal, but no one needs to re-read their emails five minutes before they go to bed. If you can’t trust yourself not to check Twitter at 3am, get a proper alarm clock and leave your phone in a different room. But do keep a notepad by the bed – great ideas often occur to us when your brains are most relaxed, and you don’t want to lie awake all night trying to remember them when they do.
5. Value your sleep.
Burning the midnight oil often seen as a badge of honour rather than a bad idea. You can’t function at your best if you don’t get sleep, so make it a priority and you’ll find yourself less likely to let it slip. If you’re really, really struggling, don’t shrug it off. Consider seeing a cognitive behavioural therapist or other professional to tackle your insomnia before it trips you up.