How to Put a Safety Mask on Your Business

When flying on an airplane, the first thing you hear upon takeoff are the safety standards of the airplane: “In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you… If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.”  I never understood this messaging because if I were a parent, there would be no doubt in my mind that I would help my kid first!

But then a year and a half ago, I co-founded ModMark Group (a marketing and PR firm helping social good organizations expand their impact) and my business became my baby… and I began to understand this safety message much better.

As dedicated as I am to growing my business and serving my clients, I understand the importance of taking care of myself first. This understanding didn’t come immediately as an early-stage entrepreneur. In the first 6 months, I never could step away from my computer – I would even have it sitting next to me at the dinner table. My computer was the first thing I touched as soon as I woke up in the morning. I ate at my desk. I sacrificed my daily runs to put in the one extra hour of client work. Working until midnight became a regular occurrence. What happened?

I never could step away from my computer – I would even have it sitting next to me at the dinner table.

I became burnt-out, my stress levels reached an ultimate high, and my client and internal business deliverables started to suffer. As much as I had the intention of wanting to best support my business, I was actually hurting it. It was in this realization that I decided to overhaul my approach to my business and take the airplane analogy into practice. I vowed to practice balance and place my personal well being in front of my business.

I now spend more time away from my computer and smart phone. I try and consistently work from 8am-7pm and even recently started enjoying Saturdays as compete “off days”, where I don’t check email or do any work.

Now, does this make me lazy as an entrepreneur? When I hear of CEO’s and founders working around the clock, I wonder if I’m deliberately putting myself in the slow lane to entrepreneurial success. But then again, after a year of putting myself first, my business is better than ever. So what exactly did I do to achieve balance in my life that would give me more free time (and sanity) all while boosting the bottom line of my business?

When I hear of CEO’s and founders working around the clock, I wonder if I’m deliberately putting myself in the slow lane to entrepreneurial success.

1. Get 8 Hours of Sleep No Matter What

Being well rested will keep your mind sharp each and every day and you will be able to be more productive and smart in how you approach your work. As a bonus, getting ample sleep each night will keep your immune system healthy, which will prevent you from getting sick (and getting put out of commission for days at a time from your work).

2. Adopt a Morning Routine

Are you the type of person that immediately checks your smart phone for emails when you first wake up in the morning? I’ll admit that I’m a victim to this habit from time to time, but I really try and limit this. It’s important to create a morning routine that you can practice each day before you jump into work. Your morning habit should be designed to your particular interests/needs and should jumpstart your brain for the day ahead.

I personally love waking up every morning and working out (running, circuits, etc.), drinking a warm cup of lemon water, and making breakfast before even firing up my laptop. My husband personally meditates first thing when he wakes up. Whatever you enjoy and works best for you, DO IT.

3. Exercise for 30-60 Minutes Daily

Daily exercise is not only healthy for you, but it’s a great stress reducer. If there is one thing I learned, when you are stressed, others (employees, clients, customers) know it and are either directly or indirectly affected.

4. Take Some Time to Meditate

I’m new to this movement, but practicing daily meditation is another great way to de-stress. Meditation also helps you stay alert and focused on the priorities at hand.

Intimated by the practice of meditation? No worries, there are a lot of guided programs out there, such as Headspace, that provide great meditation tools and lessons for beginners.

Carve out some time each day to read a book, take an online course, listen to a business podcast, or read the news.

5. Dedicate Some Time Each Day to Personal Learning

When we get caught up in building our businesses, we sometimes forget to think outside the box, learn new skill-sets, and invest in our professional development. Carve out some time each day (in the morning, after lunch, or at the end of the work day works great!) to read a book, take an online course, listen to a business podcast, or read the news.

Even if you’re taking the time to learn something that you are not currently using in your day-to-day work, you never know when this skillset might come in handy in the future. Plus, it’s always important to continue exploring your passions, no matter how established you are in your career.

6. Shut Down Your Work/Computer at Night

No matter how busy you are with building your startup, it is important to take a step away from work everyday. It will help you from burnout and will allow you to recharge your batteries before the next day. My recommendation is to pick a time each night that you aim to have all of your work done by, and then try your best to turn off your computer at that time.

I personally aim to have all my work done by 7pm during the week, so I can enjoy cooking dinner with my husband and relaxing on the couch with a good show or book before bed.

It’s always important to continue exploring your passions, no matter how established you are in your career.

If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to focus on yourself first and then your business. But once you do, your business will realize the benefits.

Your turn: What do you to do to achieve balance in your business or startup? please share with us in the comments!

After you try these tips for how to find balance, check out ModMark Group’s free 90+ page book, Get Social,  on how to dominate social media and organically grow your business… As a bonus, we have included some great time-saving tips in Get Social for managing your social media strategy so you can have more time to focus on YOU!

 

Co-Founder of ModMark Group - a boutique marketing and PR agency working with social good companies to grow their communities and expand their global impact.

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