Taking Time to relax?

iStock_000004189381XSmall_exhaustedAre you working long hours and wondering where the time went at the end of the day?  It’s a frequent complaint  in our society and it’s generally frowned upon if you don’t manage to fill your day with important tasks.  When I get a call from a potential client they are usually at the breaking point and are feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

Our society has created an ego system among entrepreneurs that doesn’t allow them to ask for help or delegate work until it’s almost too late.  Being an entrepreneur is not a 9-5 job, it does require some flexibility to make things work even if that means being available for clients in other time zones and handling operational issues on the weekend.  Being your own boss also gives you the flexibility to take breaks, get some R&R and make time for family.  This time is important for entrepreneurs who are faced daily with decisions that determine the success of your business because taking a time out for a 15 minute break, a good nights sleep, and a weekend with family and friends ultimately helps you be more productive and make better decisions.

Here are three things you need to do.

1. Take breaks during the day

Your mind operates in 90 minute cycles so taking short breaks between cycles to re-energize can help you get through a problem or project you are working on.  Jim Levine, Endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic, explains that continuous sitting for hours can increase your blood sugar levels.  If you break that up with brief activity you can reverse the negative effects of being stationary.

Additional benefits:

  • An active break helps circulate blood and oxygen to your brain helping you think.
  • Getting away from the desk when working an a difficult issue can help you see the issue from a new perspective.  The issue remains in our subconscious where our brain can apply new experiences and information to form solutions.
  • Our eyes need a break and constantly staring at a screen can cause dry eyes and headaches.
  • Taking a break can help your brain notice the small details that might be overlooked when working on a project for a long period of time.

2.   Work shorter periods, get more sleep

Working more hours can actually decrease your productivity because you have less time remaining for sleep, a critical part of your bodies’ needs to maintain mental performance. Studies show that sleeping less than six hours a night was one of the best ways to predict job burn out.  Getting the time to sleep and even sneaking in a short nap can increase your productivity and require less time to get things done.

3. Take Vacation

In addition to sleep, taking vacation is another requirement for staying energized and healthy.  Many workaholics think that they are only hurting themselves but vacation provides dedicated time to spend with family and friends letting them know that you value them.  The nurturing of these relationships helps overcome stress during the tougher days.  Reconnecting to your personal life can help you feel better about tackling new opportunities and reaching your goals.

While the four hour work week prescribed by author, educator and businessman, Timothy Ferris, may not work for everyone, the notion of downtime is difficult for many entrepreneurs.  Forbes listed the top 10 qualities of good business leaders in 2012 citing the “Ability to Delegate” as “one of the most important skills you can develop as your business grows”.  Delegation allows you to take the necessary steps above that make being an entrepreneur fulfilling.




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