Work-life integration is a tricky task, especially in the entrepreneurial space. Starting your own business is such an exciting endeavor, but it can quickly and easily take over all facets of your life. The ‘what if’s’ always loom somewhere in the back of your head. ‘What if I can’t, what if this is not right, what if I am not prepared’, and so on. You can drive yourself crazy, and in turn, not be productive or innovative, and lose sight of your goals.
I learned early on in my journey starting Kibble Pet that I value rest and sleep. The ‘stereotype’ for entrepreneurs, if you will, is the notion that there simply is not time for personal time. If you are not waking up at five or six in the morning and burning the midnight oil into the night to work on your business, you are not doing enough and you will not be successful. That is simply not the case. I have learned that by not allotting time for proper sleep, I am working more hours, but the quality of my work reflects my mental exhaustion. It is not about the number of hours you put in, it is about the caliber of work produced within those hours that counts and forms the stepping stones to success.
One of my most trying experiences on my journey so far was opening my first store. I faced a lot of obstacles, many of which were completely out of my control. I spent countless hours stressing about the outcome. I had to learn to let go of the things that I could not control. Do all you can to set yourself up for success and then trust with a positive mindset. You get back what you put out into the world. Staying up at night worrying about all the things that were out of my hands was unproductive. I had to invest that time back into myself.
I have found that there is typically one particularly daunting task on my daily list that I dread tackling. Sometimes it is as small as paying a bill. On other days it is much bigger. I learned to discipline myself and do whatever that thing is that is giving me the most anxiety first thing in the day if scheduling permits. No matter what I am certain it is crossed off before calling it a day. It is rewarding and satisfying to know it’s over with, and the rest of the day is brighter. Tackle the things that stress you out the most early on, or the stress will only build.
I live by the clean inbox rule. It sounds simple, but staying on top of your inbox is one of my secrets to a good night’s sleep. I am sure to have always read and replied to everything that came in that day. I have a folder for ‘things to get to first thing tomorrow’ as well. It’s important to differentiate what needs attention immediately and what can wait until the morning. Waking up with a clear head and clear inbox is a great way to begin the day.
It is so easy to become consumed in your work and forget about your well-being. Building a company is extremely rewarding. I get to see my goals and passions come to life. There is truly no better feeling than when hard work pays off, but you must put yourself first. You are in charge of your success and future. For me, it’s a good, restful, clear-minded night’s sleep and knowing when enough is enough. Recognize what makes you your best self and what you need to be successful and never sacrifice those things. Work-life-balance is always changing and sometimes the scale leans too heavily in one direction. There is no perfect way, but you can start by prioritizing yourself.