Entrepreneurs, especially new startup founders, often focus their efforts almost exclusively on scaling their businesses, with little to no free time left over. Personal health and life outside of work are typically placed on the back burner as busy executives work hard to grow their organizations and keep employees, investors and customers happy.
This approach can have potentially severe consequences on any entrepreneur's health and personal wellbeing as they struggle to find a balance between work and personal life. These six entrepreneurs offer useful advice on what activities busy executives should prioritize to make the most of the little downtime they do have.
Break a sweat.
Working out and staying healthy should be a top priority for entrepreneurs focused on scaling their businesses, which often entails long hours and running on very little sleep. "Exercise helps keep you healthy -- nothing is worse than coming down with the flu when you are in peak scaling mode," says Kim Kaupe, co-founder of The Superfan Company.
In addition, exercise has other benefits, as it "releases tons of endorphins and chemicals allowing you to relieve stress, channel frustrations and feel a sense of personal accomplishment outside of work." And the best part is that it doesn't have to take up much of your time. "Even if you can only steal 15-20 minutes away from your business, it's worth it to sweat," Kaupe adds.
"Entrepreneurs are inclined to optimize everything, even their free time. After all, why not cram your downtime with reading, learning, exercising and other productive activities?" muses Future Hosting CEO Vik Patel.
But that does not make for genuine relaxation, Patel believes. "Everyone needs real downtime, time to do nothing but enjoy their surroundings or the company of friends. Every founder should take a few hours a week to forget about work and truly relax."
A good way to relax but keep focus is meditation, according to Adelaida Sofia Diaz-Roa, founder of Nomo FOMO. "Meditation helps you stay focused so you can get more done in the day. It also helps you when dealing with people, whether they're employees, customers or family."
Additionally, meditation can help you get a handle on your emotions. "It helps you with how you react to anything life throws your way. It also helps with stress and anxiety. Meditation is worth the time, even if it's just 10 minutes per day," she explains.
Adopt a new hobby.
For entrepreneurs who find it especially difficult to switch their minds off during their downtime, taking on a craft or hobby that engages the brain differently is the way to go, according to Yeti CEO and Founding Partner Tony Scherba.
"I work behind a screen most of the day coordinating complex projects and dealing with thorny people issues, as do most founders. On the weekends I stop looking at the screen and instead turn my mind to the very analog task of woodworking," Scherba reveals. "It allows me to think and work my brain in different ways, which makes me sharper on weekdays."
Talk things through with a therapist.
Overworking yourself can have a negative effect on your mental health as well, leading to feelings of frustration and overwhelm, according to Thursday Bram, writer and editor at The Responsible Communication Style Guide. "When running a business, it's easy to feel like you're always on. You have to talk to customers, clients, partners and other contacts constantly, without having any time to think about your experiences or emotions."
Keeping a regular appointment with a therapist would therefore be a great "opportunity to talk through all of your thoughts that you were too busy to consider earlier, as well as a chance to focus on your own needs instead of your business's needs," she says.
Build relationships outside of work.
"If you are living in your job, odds are your relationships outside of work are suffering," underlines Colbey Pfund, co-founder of LFNT Distribution. But whether it's with friends or family, being able to maintain healthy relationships is essential for your own wellbeing.
"In your downtime, get your mind off of work and go spend time with those close to you," he says. "It'll be a good mental break, and spending time with friends is always fun."