Managing Stress While Building Your Business

For anyone starting a small business, the to-do lists, financial needs, licenses and permits, and logistics can be overwhelming. And that’s putting it nicely.

Long hours, sleepless nights, and endless worries take their toll on even the calmest of characters. Keeping it under control means being happy and healthy while growing your business, which is good for everyone involved.

Rather than giving you another long list to track, here are some quick tips to minimize the hassle if you find yourself stressed out.

Do Your Research

Avoiding uncertainty is a great way to reduce anxiety, and you’re here because you want to know what’s in store. Use that to your advantage: read a book, ask advice from a fellow business owner, or find your new favorite blog to read each day. Absorbing more information about your field or interests will help you avoid the pitfalls of inexperience.

Maximize Your Time

Look at your daily schedule. You might work at all hours, blurring the line between work and home life. While some might call that “hustle,” it could be hurting your productivity and causing you unnecessary stress. A better grip on your schedule means you can maximize your time and get work done when it counts.

If you aren’t sure what your daily schedule looks like, especially if it varies each day, start logging your time for a week or two. Then, take a look back to detect patterns, like when you’re most productive and when you find yourself drifting for another cup of coffee. Once you know your routine, you can set a more concrete schedule for yourself. Remember to pencil in time for working out, relaxing, eating, and sleeping. It might seem silly, but you’re more likely to take the time to do things for yourself if you schedule them just like business tasks and appointments.

By setting boundaries and budgeting time for work, home, and yourself, you’ll know exactly what you can get done each day, and not waste time and energy overextending yourself.

Create Stress-Free Zones at Work

If you’re lucky, you can take an hour for lunch and go for a walk to de-stress. Realistically, you’ll need to find other ways to reduce your stress at work.

One of the best ways to ensure a less stressful day is to create stress-free zones. Take a corner of your office and place a plant, an image of nature, an essential oil diffuser, or a wireless speaker (or all of the above) so you can have a tranquil spot to take a deep breath and listen to your favorite song before getting back to business.

Take a Break

Consider blocking out time on the calendar each day or week when you’re not to be disturbed at all. Maybe you use that time to address specific to-dos, or it can just a bit of downtime. Either way, that’s your allotted time to be left alone. Consider it non-negotiable.

Another thing you can do during this time is meditation. A guided meditation experience using apps like Headspace and Calm can be great for beginners and experts alike, especially when you only have five minutes to spare. And if that’s even too much to squeeze in, try this: Do Nothing for 2 Minutes.

Keep Your Home Workspace Calm

Over the last year, a lot of folks had to scramble to make some kind of home office or workspace. Take the time to re-evaluate your setup and make some tweaks if needed.

To minimize stress at home, create a functional workspace free of clutter. Organization not only makes you more efficient, staying clutter free can make it easier to focus. Start your day on the right foot with a neat workstation.

When grabbing a few hours of late-night work, adjust the lighting and temperature in your home workspace to reduce your fatigue and minimize stress. Use natural light when possible, and keep your thermostat above 68 degrees so you can expend your energy working rather than keeping warm. Cornell researchers suggest 77 degrees Fahrenheit as the optimal room temperature, but we don’t blame you if you prefer things on the cooler side.

Take Care of Yourself

The most important thing you can do is to take care of yourself. There will always be a new tool or app, but none of it matters if you’re not in a good place, so do what you need to do to take care of your physical and mental health. Seek out experts, including a therapist or doctor, to help you manage your stress. Read up on best practices to manage stress and anxiety.

You’ll never be able to eliminate all stress, but dealing with it in a healthy and productive way is critically important. Maximizing your time, creating stress-free zones at work, and making your home workspace as calming as possible will help you keep it under control so you can spend more time focusing on the fun stuff.

Julie Morris and Andy Newman contributed to this article.

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