I first came into contact with Kathryn when I was researching websites on introverts in business, and since then we have moved in some of the same circles, despite living in different parts of the UK. I was really pleased when Kathryn approached me with this article, because it’s a topic that has become of extreme importance to me since my own health has deteriorated – I now think that self-care needs to be top of the agenda for everyone, not only for introverts who are in business.
~ Julia Barnickle
The most significant goal I’ve ever set
Back in December I did the same thing that I have done every other year for as long as I can remember.
Armed with a pen, my journal and a glass of red wine, I sat down for a reflective, end of year goal setting session.
I always love doing this. It’s a time to feel proud, to acknowledge all the people, experiences and things that have come into my life over the previous 12 months, and also to look towards the future for more exciting adventures.
But as I began to set myself goals for the coming year, one particular goal soon began to take priority above all others. In fact, it went on to form the foundation of everything else that I wanted to achieve. If I ignored this goal, then it was likely everything else would fail.
And so, I wrote out this goal. I set it as my intention for the year, my most important priority above all else. In big bold letters filling a whole page of my journal. “LOOK AFTER MYSELF.”
If you let it, business can be all consuming
It’s funny – I’ve found that people who have only ever been employed often think that finding motivation and dodging distractions is the biggest issue. The TV is always there after all.
And although that’s true to a point (I’m yet to meet a business owner who doesn’t have slumps in their motivation now and again), a far bigger problem is in fact not switching on, but instead switching off.
There will always be new marketing techniques to test, emails that need replying to, articles to read, tools to try out, contracts to write, products to create…and so on it goes.
The list of things to do simply never ends. And if you aren’t careful, it can be tempting to never stop. To work crazy hours. To not see anyone. And to forget that there is in fact life outside of running a business.
Within your business YOU are your most important tool
Without your energy, creativity, inspiration and ideas, your business is worthless. It needs you. And arguably self-care is as important as business-care. In fact, I believe the two should go hand-in-hand.
To help you on your way, here are my top 5 self-care tips to help you switch off, take a break, and give your body and mind the rest it needs.
- Set yourself some boundaries
Being self-employed means you get to choose your own hours, which is wonderful, but it’s also really important to set yourself some boundaries.
My general rule of thumb is to keep weekends separate from my business. It’s not always possible, and sometimes I’ll choose to be flexible, but having set work-free days makes it much easier to take a decent break.
Similarly, if you’re able to keep your workspace separate from your main living space this can help greatly with ‘switching off’.
- Take time out during the day
Little breaks here and there can really help to re-energise and maintain your creativity.
Try and ensure that you take a proper lunch break, get out for a walk and some fresh air, and incorporate little 15 minute breaks into your day to have a change of scene, stretch your legs and give your brain the rest it needs.
I’ve found that building daily habits really helps with this. You may have to consciously make yourself take a break initially, but the more you do it, the easier it will become.
- Don’t forget to see people
Considering that I spend most of my time encouraging people to embrace their introversion, this may seem like an odd tip to include. But don’t go falling into the ‘I’m introverted so I don’t need to see anyone’ trap (easily done if you work from home!)
Seeing people for support, fun, guidance and a change of scene is just as important for introverts as it is for extroverts. Ok, you may not need to do it as often, but if you don’t get out and about and see others you could soon find yourself living in ‘hermit’ mode, which isn’t that great for body or mind.
Find the time to book in coffee dates, catch up with friends, and get out of the house when you feel it’s time.
- Disconnect now and again
This is sometimes easier said than done, however disconnecting from the internet and your business for a few days can do absolute wonders.
I recently went and spent some time in a gorgeous log cabin in the woods with my partner. There was no internet or phone service and it was relaxing, peaceful and gave me a renewed sense of energy and inspiration.
If it’s really tricky for you to leave your business unwatched, you could always consider hiring a Virtual Assistant for a few days. That way you know someone is keeping an eye on things while you’re re-charging the batteries. It really is worth it.
- Have some quality ‘me’ time
Finally, I believe that as an introvert it’s really important to ensure you have some alone time that doesn’t involve work. Put some time aside to do something you enjoy – get stuck in to a novel, go for a bike ride, have an afternoon painting, rest. Whatever you enjoy doing, find some time for it. Both your energy levels and your business will be thankful.
Over to you
How do you find the balance between looking after yourself and your business? Do you have any other tips to add to those I’ve shared? I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below!
Kathryn Hall is founder of The Business of Introverts, an avid writer and mentor to individuals across the globe who want more freedom, solitude and creativity in their careers. She’s big on helping people to embrace their introversion in all its glory, while creating a life they love.
Sign up to connect with Kathryn and receive her free audio series “How to create a soulful business the stress-free way”