If you take a few steps backward and watch your entrepreneurial life unfold, you would probably see yourself taking the center of the screen.
In fact, you’d be in the picture for most of the time – no employees, no co-workers, only you, the solo hardworking soul.
Surprisingly, your audience will vary throughout the movie. A few strong supporters will take the front seat, woot and cheer you up, wave a couple of flags, and then leave.
Others may sit through the movie, only to yawn and distract you from your goal. In the face of your determination though, this class of folks will also eventually leave, just so that they don’t have to catch the finale where you scale your business up.
However, they’d be one member that will sit throughout your progress story. And, it goes with the name of stress.
Sometimes, it would take the front seat, looking straight into your eyes. Other times, it would sit at the back, whistling and disturbing your train of thoughts. That’s how most of a solopreneur’s life is like.
While other feelings may or may not make momentary visits, stress takes the almost-permanent spot in your journey to progress.
The Gallup Wellbeing Index punches any suspicions concerning the resident-evil nature of stress.
The survey confirms that 45% of the entrepreneurs complain about being stressed in contrast with 42% of other workers. At the same time, 34% of entrepreneurs also confess being “worried a lot” as compared to 30% of other workers.
Simple tips to punch stress in its gut
Running a business is not a child’s play. It puts responsibilities on your plate that nearly crack the utensil, leaving you to save the plate while juggling the responsibilities.
Consequently, you are left in the company of jitters, brainstorming sessions, sleepless nights, midnight coffee shots and not to miss – the uncertain feelings of optimism that have only a breath’s lifeline.
So, let’s throw in the towel, pack our bags, put down the military defenses against imposter syndrome, and go sip a mojito along the Caribbean beaches. An ideal life choice!
Except, by doing so, you are waltzing right into the arms of the devious plot that stress booby-trapped in the first place.
Instead, let’s walk you through some simple tips to beat stress at its game without rushing into the arms of a burnout:
1. Establish strong work-life boundaries
Leaky boundaries between work and personal life leave you disoriented in the long haul. You can only hustle for a limited time.
Once in a while, you’ll need a break to sit back and relax.
Think closely though – can your business breathe on its own if you take a few days of break just to alleviate stress?
Unless your venture has taken off already and is enjoying a stable flight in the air, your work needs your time and attention.
However, if you establish thick boundaries between your work and personal hours, you can better charge your batteries and keep up with your work with the same energy as day one of starting your business.
Pro tip: Establish a home office or work at a co-working space to prevent work and play from poking their noses into each other’s matters.
2. Read your stress out
Research conducted at the University of Sussex applauds reading for minimizing stress for up to 68%. In fact, it’s a champion at stress management in contrast with sipping tea or listening to music.
Therefore, dive into a fictional book. The key here is to read non-business-y books. This is because by reading a business book, you may end up working again.
In case of a solopreneur, the image of a coffee mug sitting by your reading chair and crickets in the background doesn’t last for long.
As an enthusiastic entrepreneur, you already know that the image painted above dissipates into thin air the moment an idea strikes.
Eventually, this pursuit for new ideas or work problems leaves you with less of personal time, which only aggravates your stress. This is why you need to read something that is not work-related to refresh yourself.
Pro tip: Switch between reading books from various genres including business and fiction. Bear in mind that picking something that you don’t enjoy is less likely to bust your stress.
3. Limit multi-tasking to de-stress
While most of us pride at our multi-tasking skills, science frowns upon us for damaging our brain and adding to the stress.
Although there is something supremely satisfying about multiple open tabs and a wide collection of sticky notes on your desk, they really are terrifying.
Talk about a sheep in a lamb’s clothing. Mounting evidence indicates that our performance takes a tumble when we focus on several tasks on one time.
David Meyer, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan explains this further.
He points out, “The brain is not equipped to do heavy-duty multitasking… People are being asked to do multiple things, but they would need superhuman abilities.” Put simply, you’ve one brain that can only concentrate on one task at one point.
As you push your brain’s capabilities, stress is bound to follow. In addition to the stress, working on multiple tasks simultaneously can take a toll on your learning, attentiveness, and mindfulness.
So, quit sending emails while researching for a project.
Pro tip: Only multitask works that are part and parcel of your routine. Plus, give full attention to complex tasks that demand focus.
4. Divide and conquer – schedule your work with breaks
If you lock your hands with work cuffs, your brain is only going to scream for breaks. Most of these pleas, however, fall on deaf ears.
The consistent dip into the work muck can slowly poison your health, both mentally as well as physically.
Since solopreneurs are fueled by passion, they may rarely note the negative imprints of excess workload.
To prevent the stress reserve from over-flowing, punctuate your work schedule with breaks. This works, specifically, well for those who work from home. Adding breaks to your schedule takes your productivity up by several notches.
Investigations conclude that the 52-minute-work and 17-minute-break protocol works effectively. In other words, you give 52 minutes of your undivided attention to your work minus any distractions.
You follow this up with a small break – take a walk, squeeze out some fresh orange juice, or attend to any household chores on your plate.
These breaks help to keep work-induced boredom, bad moods, and stress at bay.
Pro tip: Put your phone to silent and log out of your social networks when you’re into an episode of work. This will assist you in focusing on the task at hand.
5. Eliminate the extra workload by automating or outsourcing
There’s a 100% chance that you pride yourself in being a ‘solopreneur,’ one that handles all the tasks himself. At the end of the day, however, you’re a human.
If you squeeze in excess workload on yourself, you are only going to get stressed.
Two simple ways to prevent your turbojets from dying down include automating and outsourcing some of your work.
For instance, use tools to schedule your social media posts so that you don’t have to be logging in on and off between work to show your online presence.
You can hire a virtual assistant to take some work off your heavily-loaded plate.
Likewise, outsource other work that may be taking up more of your time such as preparing content for your business.
Pro tip: Use web apps such as Canva and buffer to design and schedule your social media posts, respectively.
6. Chop your to-do list to reduce your stressed over work situation
While you may not realize this, elaborate to-do lists add to the stress.
Researchers point out that clutter in your surroundings can leave an imprint on your mind. Consequently, your mind worries about all the undone work subconsciously, impacting your productivity.
The same applies to a to-do list. The pending work keeps cluttering your brain in the background, therefore, reaching a finale of stress.
The best way to push out such a stress-inducing problem is to trim your to-do list. Only add important tasks to your to-do list. Number them in order of their priority.
Alternatively, prepare a new to-do list that lines up the most significant task first, followed by the second-most essential task and so on.
Our brain is wired to believe that the tasks on the top of the list are the most crucial ones even if we know which is the most significant task.
This explains the need to reorganize your work-due list.
Pro tip: Employ the 1-3-5 rule to manage your work. Schedule one big, three medium-sized, and five small tasks for the day.
7. Walk your stress to the exit
If you consistently sit on your desk, working the hours away, you’ll end up paving paths for stress to barge in.
However, if you walk, you can pop the stress bubble. In fact, walking is a friendly supporter of your work.
Do you feel that your creative bulbs are suffering from a short-circuit? Is stress sabotaging your focus? Or, do you want to prevent workload from nearly suffocating you?
In all three cases, go for a walk.
If you’re not cheating on pairing your work hours with breaks, then going for a short walk won’t be a problem for you.
Recent research points out that taking a walk can shift your mind’s gears into the calmer zone. So much for poor stress.
Pro tip: On your walking break, clear your head from worries. Concentrate on your surroundings instead.
8. Dedicate a day to digital detox
Stress comes in bits and bursts. It survives throughout the work days.
However, as you take a sigh of relief and hit the weekend, it may strike again in a larger explosion that works behind your back.
That sort of stress is the weekend special version that nags you about pending work, new work to start, and more, all tied in with the guilty feeling of not attending to your work.
For one, it’s the weekend. If you are somewhere in the early stages of your business-hood, then it’s possible that you’re working on the weekend too.
Regardless of the stage or workload, a weekend or at the very least, an off on Sunday is crucial to your well-being and stress disposal.
So, one of these days, when you take an off, dedicate it to a digital detox. It denotes disconnecting from your devices.
Now, that’s understandably hard. However, the move is critical for your well-being.
It boosts your memory and encourages better sleep, which are both paramount for preventing stress take over the limelight.
What’s more, Facebook depression is real. So, dedicate your Sundays to unplugging, self-care, and family time.
Pro tip: If your business’s main lifeline is the internet and you feel the need of staying connected, unplug for a couple of hours on your weekend.
9. Fetch some zzz
As an entrepreneur, it is common to work late into the night. This naturally sacrifices sleep.
Not to mention, you think more work-related thoughts if you head to bed straight from work.
Nights when you’re entirely exhausted, and you land straight into the land of Nod are a blessing. However, exhausted, sleepless nights with a dash of work thoughts are all too common.
Moreover, sleepless nights can chip in stress or aggravate it further. Evidence confirms that slumbering well can lessen stress.
The takeaway is simple – don’t compromise with your sleep hours. The ideal number of hours suitable for sleep varies from person to person.
For instance, about 1-3% of the work population is known as the “Sleepless Elite” who require between 3-4 hours of sleep. You’re lucky if you fall among these people.
Otherwise, figure out the time that you need for recharging your batteries with sleep and forget about work during those hours.
Pro tip: Free up an hour before sleep and dim the lights. This makes it easy for you to fall asleep.
Wrap up thoughts
Stress over work in an entrepreneur’s life inevitable. That doesn’t mean that you don’t need to set up a defensive parameter around yourself though.
Remember that health is wealth and stress is not a minor player, it can grow into deeper cognitive problems if ignored.
Therefore, smash it to smithereens before it engulfs you.