How many of these questions can you honestly agree with?
- Within the past 6 months I took time off from my business to relax.
- I leave the stress of business behind at the end of the day.
- I rarely work more than 50 hours per week.
- I plan vacations months in advance.
- I have a sense of freedom in my life.
If you can’t agree with just one, OK. But if you find yourself shaking your head at most or all of them, you are probably working too much with results that don’t match your effort.
The Disconnect Between Entrepreneur Time and Human Effort
Entrepreneurs have the idea that, in order to be successful, they must work 20 hours a day, seven days a week. If they just work hard enough, everything will be great. The business will be a success.
Do you know how long humans can actually focus on a task? About 90 minutes*. Then you need a 17-minute break just to get back to the same level of focus for the next 90 minutes. Not only that, but after 4-6 hours in a single day, productivity begins to drop and you get less and less done.
Eventually, you come to the point of diminishing returns. You may be working harder, but you are unlikely to be working smarter. Less is getting done, and you are spreading yourself thin.
As if it isn’t enough that we are spinning our wheels, we feel guilty that we can’t live up to this unrealistic idea of entrepreneurial effort. Others have done it, why can’t we? Even if we are doing well, we ask ourselves why we can’t do just a bit better.
So we push ahead with the long hours, missing family events, losing touch with friends, ignoring our own physical and social needs. We attempt to fix things but it’s hard to ask for help. We often go it alone until we just can’t take it anymore.
How to Climb Out of the Hole
The key is to learn to pay attention to your body and understand that you need to take a break to do the hard work of building and leading an Awesome company. Sorry, you are a human. You need to do human things like eat, sleep, play, and enjoy your tribe. There is no getting around this. (Unless you are a robot, in which case call us, we have a whole lot of work we need help with!)
Another way out of the hole is to understand that you do not have to do this alone. Harkening back to our last blog post (link to post on Physical You): Professional athletes, another subset of hyper-performing humans, know that without the proper support (a coach, a team, or a physical therapist) they cannot reach peak performance.
If you must get something done outside of a 40-hour week, plan for it. Don’t drag it out over an entire weekend; put it on the calendar for a couple of hours Saturday morning or Sunday evening. You don’t need to sacrifice your whole weekend lurking around the office or lingering over your laptop. Take the rest to spend with your family, on a hobby, or doing whatever recharges you.
Invest in Yourself
The time that you take for yourself is an investment in your business, just as much as the money you have put into it. Another good investment is to seek advice and support from someone who can look at things from the outside.
Find a coach who helps you explore your challenges and will guide you to determine the best way forward. Like a sports coach, an entrepreneur coach has the experience and background to be the best entrepreneur you can be, so you can move your business forward without working all the extra hours and stress.
Coaching sessions can involve exploring your business and life goals along with the practical application of new skills and mindsets to reach those goals. With a coach you will have someone to hold you accountable and who can share experiences that will resonate with you.
Being an entrepreneur is not easy. Work smarter, not harder, and you will find your business growing with less pain and more joy.
*from study by the Draugiem Group. https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-rule-of-52-and-17-its-random-but-it-ups-your-productivity. Accessed 8/24/2015.