On an average week, how many hours do you work?
Although the national average for full time workers is 36.6 hours, it’s not unusual for business owners to put in 45.5 hours each week, which equates to an additional 17 days each year.
And that’s not including the time spent commuting to and from work, checking emails first thing and at the weekends, and being always-on..
While putting in the hours to grow your business may be a passion and a necessary part of striving for business success and personal freedom, it’s important to be able to recognise the signs that your hard work may be taking its toll, both physically and mentally.
So, based on my experiences as a professional business coach, here are some of the most common red flags that indicate you’re working too hard and how to set boundaries to prevent them.
Lack of sleep
Whether it’s being up with the lark or burning the midnight oil, swapping downtime for work time can have a detrimental effect on your mental and physical health.
Lack of sleep can lead to increased stress and irritability and make it harder for you to stay focused on the topic in hand and therefore less productive.
To remedy this, remind yourself that it’s completely up to you how you choose to occupy your day. Set aside the time for rest and sleep. It’s as important to your output as the time you spend focussing on work.
Poor work-life balance
Running a business can be all consuming. The boundaries between work and life can blur, resulting in the aforementioned feeling of being always-on.
If skipping family get-togethers and meet-ups with friends is commonplace for you, you run the risk of denying yourself opportunities to de-stress and unwind.
That’s why it’s important to schedule in regular moments of fun – I’d recommend at least one a week. Plus, literally adding them to your work calendar means you’re less likely to skip them.
Lack of energy
Cars can’t run on empty. Neither can we. Whether you’re continuously cruising along the business highway without a break or constantly accelerating towards business growth without pausing for breath, there’s just one destination: Fatigue.
To avoid feeling too tired to be your best, it’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day. Whether it’s a short walk outdoors, a non-work related conversation, or simply slowing down to enjoy things more, taking short pit stops gives you a chance to recharge both mentally and physically.
Feeling under the weather
While some low-level stress can be helpful or even motivate you towards your business goals, long-term stress can cause havoc with your immune system.
As a result, you may be more susceptible to anxiety, lack of sleep, and feeling overwhelmed, which can manifest itself in the form of headaches, stomach aches, or chest pains.
A good tool to ward off situations becoming stressful is to mentally clear your decks.
- Make a list of what needs to be done.
- Delegate tasks to those in your team who are best placed to do them.
This will free you up to spend more time doing what you do best.