Generally when we talk about self-care, it’s taking a bath, going for a walk, or meditating.
And while I’m very into all of those things, there is a different type of stress that comes from putting yourself out there, running a business solo, and testing strategies not really knowing if they’ll work.
Which means it’s important to implement a different level of self care within your business, not just when you have the time to stop and take a break.
This week on The Dare to Grow Show I’m sharing self-care strategies to implement WITHIN your business to keep you from going anywhere near exhaustion and burnout.
After my podcast episode on what my current workdays look like (episode #23 if you’re interested) I got a DM asking how I showed up and made it look easy at the beginning.
And my answer was – I didn’t!
When I left my corporate job and launched my freelance web design business in 2012 I was working non-stop, thinking only about business: how to get subscribers, followers, what to post, what to sell.
I didn’t go out a lot, I didn’t spend money, I didn’t take nights or weekends off. Essentially I was making running my business really hard on myself.
Usually when we talk about self-care it looks like taking a bath, going for a walk, meditating, and I’m very into all of those things. There’s nothing like a workout and a scalding hot shower to end the day!
But there is a different type of stress that comes from putting yourself out there, running a business solo, testing strategies not really knowing if it will work.
Which means it’s important to implement a different level of self-care within your business, not when you have the time to stop and think about yourself.
Self care within business means…
Working through one problem or one project at a time
I know when you’re building your business there are 1000 things to do…
- Update your website
- Set up your email list
- Figure out Instagram
- Create daily content
- Learn how to marketing and sell
And every time you read a blog post, listen to a podcast, take a course, download a freebie you’re adding to that list.
If you’re trying to finish 6 things at once you’re not giving enough attention to any of them to feel like it’s finished and done well, so you’ll always be adjusting and thinking about what you need to change.
Self-care within your business looks like scheduling all of the things you want to accomplish in your calendar or project management system (Asana is my jam) and give yourself a specific amount of time to complete the task.
I did this recently with a list of about 10 changes I want to make. I took my list, opened up Asana, and scheduled one task per week for the next 10 weeks.
This did 2 things for me: 1, It took that list out my mind so I’m not continuously thinking about all 10 tasks at once. And 2, it gave me a specific time to check each one off.
Which leads into the next self-care step…
Sticking to your deadlines even if you don’t feel like it
Yeah I know, this doesn’t sound like self care because self-care is supposed to be enjoyable right?
Well maybe not always.
Sometimes self-care is doing the tough stuff because it’s good for you, for your mental health, for your business.
Sticking to your deadlines helps to build trust in yourself. That trust is what helps you take bigger and bigger steps – increasing your prices, hiring a coach, accepting a speaking gig.
If you don’t trust yourself to write a weekly blog post or post consistently on IG stories, then how could you trust that you would do well at and be able to handle the next level?
Trust that you can write a weekly email, trust that you can finish a project in time for the launch, trust that you can stick to your schedule. It all builds so that when another opportunity arises it doesn’t feel like such a big leap.
Once you’re able to plan ahead and stick to your schedule you can do some of the fun parts of self care like…
Taking a day off if you need it
One of the selling points of working for yourself is the time freedom – we hear about it before we move from side hustle to full-time job, in the sales pages for courses and coaching programs…when you grow your business and earn more you can take time off whenever you want!
But most of us don’t ever take advantage of it.
Maybe you make a doctor appointment or run errands during the day, but when was the last time you took an entire day off, went to a movie, or took a nap just because you felt like it?
It’s one of the biggest perks for being a solopreneur and the majority of us get so loaded down with our to-do list and our want-to-do list that we never actually take a break.
To start implementing this one, take one day completely off every week. Maybe it’s a day during the week when you don’t have client calls or maybe it’s Saturday or Sunday so you can spend more time with your family.
Once you see the results of this, feel the stress relief, and notice the ideas that come from letting your brain rest, it will be easier to add time off and full vacations more often.
Paying attention to how much content / info you’re consuming
Scrolling is the easiest way to procrastinate while still feeling like we’re doing something, but it is more detrimental than we realize?
You stop what you’re working on, absentmindedly pick up your phone, and start scrolling Instagram without even realizing it. After 20 minutes or so – Are you actually feeling inspired? Are you getting new ideas? Are you taking action on what you’re learning?
What could you be doing instead?
Maybe a marketing task – getting on video and teaching or selling.
Maybe it’s more self-care – taking a walk, meditation, sitting down for lunch.
To put this into practice, I open Instagram with intention two or three times each day. I answer comments and DMs, post to stories, and share screenshots or promo graphics.
I don’t have a personal instagram account – I just use it for business, so I have to remind myself of this to avoid scrolling on the weekend or at night – which I’m not always great at.
Setting general boundaries for your business
When do you answer DMs and emails, when do you respond to clients, how long do requests take to process? How often are you adding extra tasks to your schedule? How often are you being taken away from your task list by the request of someone else?
So first a little no-BS adjustment for that last sentence, because you’re not being taken away from your task list. You’re allowing other people to determine your schedule on the fly.
This is not something that happens because it’s the norm, it’s something you allowed to happen so many times that it became a habit.
We want to provide the best service and the best experience to customers and clients and especially at the beginning we feel like saying no will ruin our whole business.
But from experience I can say – you don’t need to respond at night, on weekends, you don’t need to answer emails immediately, you don’t need to respond to requests immediately.
And you do this by setting boundaries.
This can be…
- Adding your business hours to your email footer
- Adding a “No DMs” note in your IG bio so you can respond to requests via email
- Adding rules for additional requests to your client contracts like “Requests will be processed within 7 business days”
Most people will wait however long is necessary, but we assume they wont so we don’t set boundaries
In the first lessons of my courses I tell students if and how they can ask questions and receive feedback – I spell it out so I don’t have to answer questions via email or DMs.
This can also extend to your friends and family. If your sister is always asking to hang out during the day because they know you make your own schedule, set a boundary from the start stating your work hours. You can say, “If you ask a week or so in advance I can find the time.”
Audit your business to see where clients, customers, friends, family are doing things you’d rather they not do and determine how can you set boundaries from the beginning so it’s not an awkward situation trying to stop the behavior
Lastly, not saying YES to everything
This is so hard at the beginning because it feels like saying no to anything – especially things you’ll be paid for – will stop your business in its track. If I don’t say yes to that webinar, that interview, that conference I’ll never get the chance again.
First, if it’s something you’re interested in, you can always say, “This month is already booked, how about September?” Or, “Keep me in mind for next year.”
But also, if it’s not a good fit, don’t be afraid to give a hard no because you don’t need to waste time fielding that same request over and over.
For example – I could have joined a fantastic course bundle a few months ago that definitely would have made me money, but it was in between two big promotions and I didn’t want to squeeze in extra emails. So instead of saying no, I asked to be kept in the loop for the next one.
When you’re given an opportunity, double check that it connects to your expertise and your goals.
For example: It wouldn’t be a good fit to speak to Etsy shop owners about physical product sales when my focus is digital products. However I could offer to speak on something more closely related to my courses or just say, “No thanks, it’s not a good fit.”
Now if you’re reading this and thinking, “Shit, I need to implement every single one!”
I want to give you permission to start with just ONE.
A little tip about my podcast episodes, I usually outline them out in a specific order. So you can start with the first tip and work your way through. Because it’s much easier to add a new habit one at a time rather than trying to do the whole shebang at once.
I know the more I’ve been able to set boundaries and put myself first in my business, the better I’m able to show up for my students and audience, and the more I’m able to come up with new and innovative ideas.
So I have a feeling setting up some serious self care will have lots of benefits for you too!