Is it normal to be obsessed by a new business?
A new business owner recently asked this question in our business forum:
“Is it natural to be completely tired out and isolated? Three months in and other than a few networking events and family days, every day has been work. I’m pretty sure my balance is all wrong and I should be having the weekends off. Does anyone else feels like they need to escape from themselves and knows they are working too many hours and if so what is the best strategy to bring some balance back?”
To which our wonderful bunch of business owners replied ….
- I know the feeling and am committing myself to at least one whole day a week not working at all. I need to choose something I have to concentrate on or I just drift back to thinking about the business.
- I can go through phases of working really hard if I need to, but if I keep it up for too long I feel awful – not just tired and prone to headaches, colds etc, but my motivation and productivity drops dramatically. So I force myself to do other things that are totally unrelated to work, and that gets me back to ‘normality’!
- I make a point of doing things that are totally the opposite of work. While it’s great to network with other people in business, for balance I also make a point of socialising with people who don’t understand what I do at work. I think it’s about getting the right balance to keep you productive, happy, healthy and sane, which takes a bit of experimentation.
Schedule time off
- I agree with all of the above. Here’s my personal experience. Just this morning I was telling my (super-understanding) fiancé how from the moment I wake up, I feel 7/10 anxious and irritated. I have taken steps in my business to protect my private time and keep things separate, such as Wednesday is an ‘admin’ day for me- to catch up and give my hands a rest (I’m a physical therapist), and I rarely do any work at the weekend. This wasn’t the case initially, but I am only 15 months into my business so I’ve made progress! I also set my diary to work a 40-hour week. I know that occasionally I go over that, but if I know I’ve done those hours I can ‘let myself off’ if I’m tired/ stressed, knowing that I’ve done just as much as anyone out there who’s employed. It’s really helped. However, in truth, I actually end up being productive a fair bit less than that, because of above anxiety. So I guess what I’m saying, is it’s not really about TIME. When things are going great, it’s a joy to work, I don’t want to stop, and you probably feel the same. But it’s probably about getting in your personal needs BEFORE it becomes an isolating thing, putting yourself at the top of the list BEFORE your energies are called into question. It sounds like you’ve got a lot of passion for what you do, but you have to feed that passion with creativity, and make sure you force yourself to have it in your schedule.
- Try splitting your day into 3 sections – morning, afternoon and evening. Work 2 out of 3. That’s the same as anyone else (and therefore in my mind ‘enough’) and you can justify and afternoon cinema trip, snooze, chat with a friend, shopping, knowing you can continue working that evening.
- First thing to do is take a day off and completely change your situation – go somewhere you’ve either never been before or somewhere where you know you’ll be calm and undistracted. Working every minute of every day is a short-term strategy: you’ll get a lot done for a short while, but you will burn-out quickly and become ineffective.
Obsession does not lead to success
- Importantly, you need to get some realistic perspective about what you’re doing: weekends off might slow things down a little bit in the short-term, but realistically your business isn’t going to fail just because you take some time off. Stepping away and recharging is so important that it’ll do you far more good than you realise.
- And just because many people wear themselves out and isolate themselves running their own business doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do or that it has to happen: just that a lot of people make the same mistakes. Don’t confuse how other people do things with how it has to be.
- It’s absolutely necessary to have peer group support but its equally important to have an interest that isn’t about business. This isn’t just good for your health and sanity, it makes you a more interesting person and that makes it easier for people to connect with you and so is ultimately good for business too!
Obsession can make you dull and hard to do business with
- Because I love what I do I don’t mind spending hours and hours doing it but I also get that ‘burn out’ feeling every now and then. Recognising it is very important. When I feel it lurking in the background I change what I’m doing… go for a walk, weed the garden, do the ironing, visit friends and relatives – all the things you put off in favour of work! I find doing them in my less productive time helps me make the most of my productive time. And when you feel tired don’t feel guilty about being a couch potato, you’ve earned the right!
- It is so important to call an end to the workday and switch off on an evening. Weekends are also sacred. I recommend also having a completely different interest and making time for it. You are a human being, not meat for the business grinder.
- The number, and detail, of replies is a good indication of how many people have been where you are. Being strict about how many hours you work is something all self employed fail at to begin with, but it’s essential to get it right, and is the first step in getting the balance. A sociable hobby is another great idea put forward – kiteboarding?
- If I’m working from home I sometimes take time out to walk to the bottom of the road and go fishing for a while. It’s amazing how much watching nature, and abjectly failing to catch anything, helps reset a bad mood and put new ideas in my head. I’m not saying that’ll work for you, of course, but it’s good to go out, take a walk, do something that’s expressly *not* work, to help re-establish some perspective.
This is what our members do. What strategies do you have to cope with getting obsessed by business?
If you’re working too hard for not enough reward, contact me now to get some simple strategies to work smart, not hard!