Physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.
This is how I felt after six years in full-time disorganised chaos. The incessant interruptions, unrelenting calls, back-to-back appointments and the black hole that was the open plan office, all pulling me in and draining my energy.
A significant attraction for introverts to work for themselves is the retreat from the energy vampires that an extroverted working environment often contains, towards more autonomy and opportunity for solitude that we require to rebalance.
Six months into my business, however, I’d suddenly found myself exhausted again. Immersed in both offline and online interaction, networking, learning how to run a business, learning how to use social media, writing blogs, extra training, building a website; all of this before the main purpose of my job, my clients!
Self-employment also means self-management. Without boundaries and self-care, burn out can continue to be a familiar and unwelcome visitor.
Here are five tips to help you work with your natural way of being:
1. Plan quiet time
Introverts need solitude to re-energise. What ever you do to recharge, make space for this in your diary. Whether you:
2. Set yourself business hours and honour them
It’s so easy to blur the boundaries of work and personal life when you’re self-employed. But you are no good to your business, clients or customers if you are worn out. Set some working hours and stick to them. I choose to work Saturday mornings because they work well for me. To balance this out, I don’t offer evening appointments on Fridays. Think about when you want to work, what’s realistic and when you definitely won’t work. This will help you choose set times that suit you.
3. Practice authenticity
You want your businesses to be successful, which makes it so easy to get caught up in what you feel you ‘should’ be doing, neglecting your natural strengths and needs as a consequence. Stuck in this ‘should’ rule too long, we lose sight of how we really feel about what we are doing and the effect it has on our energy.
Marketing is a given for a successful business, however if your strengths are in writing, creativity and making one-to-one connections, it makes sense to spend time on the things that give you energy as you are building your business.
Choose networking events purposefully. Targeted events once per month (or less) are more helpful for your business and kinder to your energy than attending lots events aimlessly.
4. Work with your energy
As a self-employed individual, you are not confined to the 9 to 5 routine. I have found that my energy levels peak between 2pm and 5pm. For some people it’s at 9pm at night! Our business type, and personal life, may mean that this is not always possible - however, working within your natural rhythm will help you get the work done, and make space to switch off when you need to.
5. Feed energy evoking activities into your daily routine.
Have you noticed a type of exercise, place or song that gives you an instant lift in energy?
Just fifteen minutes of yoga in the morning leaves me both relaxed and energised. Before coaching sessions, I drink camomile tea and listen to classical music. I have learned that I am the most confident and efficient in my work when I am calm and relaxed. Therefore caffeine and highly stimulating music have the opposite effect on me. What works for you?
Give yourself permission to take care of you, check in with your needs and retreat when you must. Your energy levels are trying to tell you something.