Running your own business isn’t easy. In many ways it’s much, much harder as we self employed have to wear so many different hats. Add to the mix juggling kids and parents, being constantly switched on to our phones and iPads… it’s no surprise that anxiety and stress is rife. Ok, so that’s the bad bit!
The good bit is that you’re running a fabulous business that you love, you’re your own boss and there’s loads of things you can do to create some wellness in your business life. Small tweaks and changes in your business life can make a huge difference as I’ve learnt over the last few years of running my own graphic design business.
First thing on a Monday morning I go to an exercise class. I don’t check emails or get into work mode – I take an hour to focus on myself, on my mind and on my body.
Find a way to get active, whether it’s going to the gym, going for a run, yoga stretches in the corner of your office, cycle or walk to meetings, park your car a little further away. I often get my best and most creative ideas while away from the office and my mind wanders.
Start with a healthy breakfast… and snacks
We can get so focused on our work that we don’t really give food much thought. Guzzling cups of coffee, snacking on biscuits and chocolate and often missing meals altogether. It’s not great brain food, it makes us feel tired and sluggish (or hyper) and we don’t actually give our business the 100% it deserves.
At the very least start with a healthy breakfast to fuel your mind and body. And drink more water. Always drink more water. I’m not a nutritionist but I have a gorgeous client who is one and she really set me on the right road to healthy eating.
I’m a big believer in getting outside into the fresh air to clear your head and promote better thinking and creativity. Being outside calms us especially around flowers, trees and greenery. I often have a sneak into the garden to see how my veggies are growing and do a little trimming or weeding, summer and winter.
Have a cuppa outside, take your laptop outside, walk to a meeting. Or even have a meeting outside.
This is such a tricky one as running your own business you often feel you should be on call and available to your clients 24 hours a day, especially in the early days. But you really don’t. It’s your business and it’s up to you to work around your clients and commitments to create your own working hours and boundries. Just make people aware of when you are or aren’t available.
Let people know how long meetings will take or how long you’ll spend on phone calls. Answer emails less often. Tell family and friends that when you’re working, you are actually working (this is often the hardest to do!)
Be kind to yourself. You’re doing a fabulous job running your own business and juggling every one and every thing else. You, more than anyone, deserves a treat.
So book in a massage or manicure, have a bubble bath with candles, coffee with a friend or just an hour with your kindle and no distractions. Whatever takes your fancy. Just schedule it into your calendar like any other job and make sure you do it.
Even if you work in a non creative industry, creativity is still good for you. It uses other parts of your brain and helps your concentration. Try doodling, or one of the very many adult colouring in books that are available now. Even a 10 minute break to focus on a little colouring in can refresh you and give you a break.
It’s good to talk
You might be running your own business and you might be the only person in your business but that doesn’t mean you have to be alone or do it alone. We all need some human contact throughout the day.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had days and days when I haven’t actually wanted to see anyone and I’m perfectly happy to sit in my studio with my music and lose myself in design work. I actually enjoy working on my own.
But equally, I do enjoy networking events, meeting clients and printers for a coffee, even meeting other designers to talk shop. I’ve come away buzzing with new ideas for my business. I’ve had help during the early years, seen people with similar problems to me and helped other business owners with their issues. We all need to talk.
Where you sit or spend most of your day has a huge impact on your wellbeing. I had a very sterile, business desk as I wanted to feel professional and it was taking me some time to adjust to running my own business.
After a while I realised that I can work exactly as I want to – so I bought a gorgeous wooden desk that I absolutely love. I added plants and a candle on my desk. I put up inspiring images on my notice board which I look at all the time.
I also created a small corner in my studio where I can sit and scribble ideas or research on my iPad or read design books. It’s a cosy nook which I love especially in Autumn and Winter as the afternoons get dark – I have a lamp and sit there with a cuppa at the end of the day.
Have a read of 8 easy ways to create a happier, healthier workspace for some inspiration.
Make it easier to run your business
Ask yourself, what can you do to make it easier to run your business? Where are you wasting precious time?
I can guarantee that whatever you’re doing day to day, there’s a quicker and easier way to do it. There are apps and technology and systems that can free up your time.
This was another one that took me a while to realise. I wrote standard replies for emails and created systems so clients knew exactly how a job progresses. It’s actually one of the things I now get positive recommendations for. I do my accounts at the end of every week so I’m always up to date, I schedule my social media in bulk and I try to do similar jobs at the same time – write blogs, search for images.
Take a critical look at what you do every day and see how you can make it quicker or simpler.
Write a list
I’m a big fan of list writing. A big fan. I probably have too many lists. But list writing helps clear my head. It helps me get all the ideas and jobs swirling in my head down on paper so I don’t have to worry about remembering them.
Writing a list helps me break down big jobs into easy, bitesize, manageable jobs. I feel a sense of satisfaction when I tick jobs off knowing I’ve achieved some thing that day.
I’ve said it once but I will say it again. Running your own business and juggling family life is so hard. So be kind to yourself and take steps to look after yourself and your wellbeing. Your business will thank you for it.
I’d love to hear what you do in your business to take care of your wellbeing.