In a million years, I would have never thought I would be an entrepreneur. It’s still something I’m trying to grasp as I go into my 5th year as a blogger and 3rd year as a web designer. I actually always told myself I could never be a freelancer because it wasn’t in my abilities to be flexible when it came to the day to day operations and instability of it all. Fast forward to right now and you would see me doing just that: working for myself, by myself, at home, helping clients create logos, websites, and marketing for their shops, enjoying the flexibility of my position, being able to share my voice through my blog, and most importantly, struggling with the anxiety of it all.
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It doesn’t matter if you are 150% happy with what you are doing as I am, how you are doing it on a daily basis (as organized as you could possibility be), and you are booked for your services completely, anxiety has become a part of my day to day life. I know I’m not alone in this stance, so as part of trying to overcome the daily sessions of self doubt and self sabotage, I’m going to write about it openly and share some of my tips that I use to help me find balance within being an entrepreneur.
1. Turn off Notifications
As simple as this sounds, it’s really a life changer. I haven’t had notifications on for any of my social media accounts for over 2 years. It’s just not worth the consistent interruption to see what someone said or liked. I turned off all my social media accounts on my phone and my email.
2. Pause your email (yes, this is a thing)
For my work email, I use a program called Boomarang. This helps me schedule emails out to send at a later date as well as brings important emails back to me at a certain date and time that may need more attention. It’s one of the best tools I use within my work day. This amazing company just came out with a new featured called “Pause Email” and it literally does that. It pauses your email box from receiving any email for any certain amount of time and instead places those unread emails in a folder that you are unable to see. When you are ready to un-pause your email, you simply click the button and all your emails are moved into your inbox. This works great when I’m working on client projects and I don’t want to be distracted (or overwhelmed) by a flood of emails or client requests. If you are looking to organize your email like I have, check out this post: How to Organize your G-Mail Inbox, which is a lifesaver.
3. Remove apps from your phone that stress you out
This might seem silly but it really works for me. I completely removed my work email from my phone. It’s helped me set a standard of not checking my email during my off times or on the go when I should be focused on other things. I’ve also removed Instagram from time to time so I can focus on what needs to be done versus worrying about what other people are doing during their day. I just started to delete Instagram on Friday nights and re-install it on Monday so I can really unplug during the weekend. I’ve only successful done this one weekend so fingers crossed it becomes a habit in the future.
4. Use Calm on a daily, especially when you feel anxiety
Calm has become my go-to anytime I’m just starting to feel like crap. They offer a good amount of free sessions to start and then you can upgrade (I paid $40 for the entire year) to open up their whole library of resources. Calm has tons of week long challenges that focus on all types of subjects like anxiety, sleep, happiness, forgiveness, self-esteem, and gratitude to name a few. Another great feature is it also featured a daily calm which focuses on different subjects and trigger words every day. Additionally, they have just added sleep and music as a category of the app in which help you to continue to stay calm and at peace. I highly recommend you try this out!
5. Go to the movies
I have to start by saying this post is 100% inspired by this one alone. I just got back from going to a mid-day movie (thank you Movie Pass!) by myself for the first time. It felt so good to just go sit in a dark space and turn my brain off. I highly recommend when you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or just plain uninspired from your projects to go to a movie!
6. Walk away
I know there are times that I just get so frustrated that I need to walk away, and that’s okay! Taking a walk or even stepping outside has seen it’s benefits in my life. Just taking a few minutes each day to get fresh air really helps clear your mind and energy.
7. Call your significant other, friends, or family members
Jonathan would say I probably do this too much, but it’s true! Sometimes you just need to talk it out with someone or even be distracted by an issue with a great converstation with someone you love.
8. Watch Ellen
Seriously, Ellen is a life saver. When I’m in a bad mood or just having a hard time copping with something, I turn Ellen on. Her show makes me laugh, forget, and enjoy the fact that I am who I am!
9. Have an accountability partner
I have a few friends who are in similar positions where they work from home as an entrepreneur and they are great people to chat with when you are starting to feel overwhelmed and/or alone. They understand the struggle too! They can also help you with accountability and get you back on track when you need it. If you can, meet for lunch or a coffee to talk in person (and take a break from your office space). Don’t forget to save your receipt as an expense because really it is like business therapy, that counts, right?
10. Create a work schedule and stick to it
This is mostly so you don’t get off track during the week and stress yourself out, like I have. I know what time I should be on the computer every day to begin my day and if I’m done early, or am waiting to hear back from clients, I use that time to catch up on other things. But no matter what, I always get off at 6PM. Being your own boss is tough in this sense of that you really feel like you can’t step away but let me tell you, you can. It will be there for you tomorrow, I promise.
11. Stop working on the weekends (yes, checking your email counts)
There is really not much to say here. Don’t work on the weekends. It’s good to unplug during Saturday and Sunday so you can re-charge and be your best self during the week. This was really tough for me when I started working full time, but now, it’s the thing I look forward to each week. My clients know, and you should make it clear to whomever it concerns, that you don’t work on the weekends. That includes emails. As I said above, I don’t have the mail app on my phone anymore so I’m not tempted to check my email. I also pause my email for the entire weekend to make sure I don’t try to sneak a peek. Give yourself the time to take a break and enjoy your weekends!
12. Stop saying YES to everything
One of the things I’ve learned through my journey is to say no. You literally cannot do every single thing, even if you think you can, you can’t. Plus, does it bring you joy? Do you even want to do it? If no to both of them, then say no to whomever your client is. It’s okay to say no because the things you are amazing at are worth your time, effort, and creativity.
13. Use alarms & timers
Between my Apple Watch and a desk clock in my office, I have timers going all day long. These keep me on track to take breaks (I always forget to do it or push it off), eat lunch, go outside, play with Cuba, or get off for the day. These have really helped me be accountable for my self and making sure I take care of myself throughout the day. Another thing you can do is use timers when you begin to be stressed out on a project or to make time for it, set it for an hour, do as much as you can during that hour, then move on. I do this a lot with blogging because it’s the one thing that always gets pushed aside when I have a huge to-do list. I always give myself one hour no matter what.
14. Use a bullet journal or to do list
If you aren’t already doing this, make a list of everything you have to do. Most of the time when I’m feeling anxiety, it’s because I have so much stuff going on in my head that I overwhelm myself. As soon as I write it down (or even type it out on my phone) I do begin to feel way better. Plus, I enjoy crossing things off my list. It makes me happy! I use a bullet journal for my planner so every Sunday I sit down with a coffee, put on a show, and begin to create my journal for the week. Planning out on a Sunday instantly makes me feel better about the upcoming week because I have the control before the week begins.
15. Write out your feelings
I’ve done this a few times when I’ve been really overwhelmed with a project, client, or business life in general. I prefer to type so I just write out all my thoughts and feelings (no judgement on spelling or look) and it really helps me get out the anxiety I’m feeling.
16. Listen to music, really loudly, and dance
In times of need, just dance. We have an apple TV so I sometimes just blast my favorite Pandora station (Mine has been the Guardians of the Galaxy Mix for a long time now) for a while and focus my energy (and stress) elsewhere.
17. Break up projects into smaller, achievable pieces
This goes back to writing out your to do list. I always break down my bigger projects throughout the week so I’m not stuck on working on 5 websites in one day (how boring is that!) You have the ability as an entrepreneur to craft your day and your tasks. Keep yourself in mind rather than the person you are working for when it comes to this. When I have a huge project, I always break it into tasks and make sure I cross off everything (even if I did it before I made the list).
18. Exercise & drink water
This one is a no brainer but something I struggle with for sure. I always feel so much better when I put my mind and energy into a workout so I need to remind myself of this in times of a sanity check. For water, I use two water bottles to stay on top of my intake during the day, one for the AM and one for PM. It really helps make sure I’m staying hydrated during the workday!
19. Unplug every night
Recently I’ve made it a goal to put my phone away (in the bedroom) at 9PM. Honestly there is no reason I should be on my phone past that time because it really all leads back to work I should be doing or things that need to be done. So now I walk into my room, plug my phone in and put it face down. I do not touch it in the morning. I’ve become really good with my phone but may need to work on putting the iPad away as well!
20. Read, Write, Color, Sew, or any other thing you love to do!
The most important thing I think is making sure you have activities that you do that don’t revolve around your work. When you work from home, it’s very easy to let work take over every moment of your life but you have to try very hard to not let this happen. It’s something I struggle with, trust me. I try to make sure I do something for ME every day like reading and sewing. It helps take my mind off all the stress I find in my daily schedule.
21. Get a dog, or cat, but dogs are better IMO
Getting Cuba was the best decision for Jonathan and I. Especially for my sanity. I now have someone to talk to, even if she doesn’t talk back and only stares at me. It’s something other than myself to take care of so it’s really helped me get outside of myself and focus on her. She is also great when I need to go for a walk or step outside as she is always begging to do that too.
Do you have any you would like me to share? I’m always on the search for learning about new ways people are keeping calm and and entrepreneuring on!