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How entrepreneurs can unplug at the end of the day

How entrepreneurs can unplug at the end of the day

Posted 23rd January, 2020 by Sarah

7 minute read

Do you find it hard to switch off from work? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. An inability to unplug is a common experience amongst business owners, entrepreneurs and those getting start-ups off the ground.

At tsoHost, we often hear how the entrepreneurs we sell our affordable domains and powerful webhosting to are burning the candle at both ends – and sometimes the middle, too.

So, in this article we’ll look at the stats, the reasons why switching off is essential, and the techniques you can employ to ensure you’re able to let go at the end of the day.

Working 9 to 9 – the stats

A 2016 survey of small business owners’ working habits showed that just 17 per cent work regular eight hour days. 12 per cent confessed to routinely working more than 10 hours a day and five per cent admitted to working 12-hour days as a matter of habit.

Another survey by accounting software company QuickBooks found that 61 per cent of self-employed individuals worked weekends or every other weekend.

Other research has indicated that 65 per cent of small business and start-up owners even struggle to switch off when they’re on holiday.

Further investigations have suggested that small business and start-up owners struggle to sleep. In fact, the phrase ‘entrepreneur insomnia’ has been coined to describe their experiences.

5 downfalls of failing to shut off

Of course, you might not feel at the moment like you need to switch off. After all, other research studies suggest that people who work for themselves are happier despite the hours they put in.

However, putting-off taking a break can have health implications, even if you think you’re fine.

Professor of Health Psychology Mark Cropley recently told the Telegraph: “Inadequate psychological recovery, or poor disengagement from work, is associated with a range of health problems including cardiovascular disease, fatigue, negative mood and sleep disturbance.”

In Japan, there’s a term for the above health problems. It’s karōshi and it means death from overwork. A little dramatic you might think, but it’s worth reading up on if you regularly put in an extra hundred hours a month.

Even if the above doesn’t persuade you to tune-out from work more often, the following might.

Research shows that working more than 40 hours per week is unproductive and that working 50 per cent more hours, week-in-week-out, does not equate to 50 per cent more productivity.

How to unplug
Get physically away from your desk

You can’t zone out from work if you’re sat at your laptop. Once you’re there, though, your computer has some serious gravity. The solution? Time blocking. Countless business people have found that time blocking helps them leave their desks at a decent hour.

The technique of time blocking simply involves setting a reminder in your email calendar for the time you’re meant to stop working. It works as a pointed finger telling you to get up and switch off. If you find you ignore the first reminder, then set another, a few minutes later.

Lend your last 10 minutes to tomorrow

It’s hard to switch off from work when you have an interminable to-do list. The trick here is to realise that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that you can’t do everything at once. To stop yourself thinking or worrying about the tasks you leave unfinished at the end of the day, you should dedicate at least 10 minutes at the end of every working day to planning what you’re going to work on first thing in the morning. Planning to pick up an unfinished task will make you feel more psychologically sure that it will get done, so you can relax.

Keep a notebook

Inevitably, there will be days when an idea relating to work or a forgotten task or even a solution to a problem will pop into your mind out of regular hours. Unless it’s the fix to a crisis, you’re best waiting to act on that idea until the following morning.

Keep a notebook to hand so you can write your thoughts down. Then try to forget about it. A physical notebook may sound a little old skool here but making a written note of your idea this way saves you having contact with your mobile phone or computer, where more work awaits.

Use tech to avoid tech

To really tune-out from work you’ll need to try not to check emails or messages relating to work after you have officially clocked off for the day. If you’re really struggling to commit to this there are apps you can use to help you get off the grid.

One option is Cold Turkey Blocker. Once you have downloaded this bit of kit to your computer you can ask it to ban you from visiting either a selection of websites and apps or the entire internet.

Freedom is another choice that also works on mobile phones, and RescueTime is another go-to for many entrepreneurs.

Reframe your reasons for leaving work

Anyone who runs their own business will have iron strong reasons for doing so. You might be working to make a difference in the world, to achieve something no one else in your family ever has, to create a better life for your children, to make money, or to achieve all of the above.

So, when you switch off from work, you might feel guilty – like you’re cheating on those goals. You might feel especially guilty if you’re cheating just for the sake of going for a pizza or going to the gym.

However, when you remember that you’re going for pizza with your partner and that one of your life goals is to maintain a happy relationship, then suddenly your reason for leaving work seems a lot more important.

Likewise, with the gym. You’re not just going for a workout. You’re going to do something to your body that will help you live longer and be stronger.

Eat your frogs

This is the term coined by 9 Clouds digital marketing agency. It simply means do your least enjoyable tasks first thing in the morning.

Research suggests that humans only have a certain quota of willpower to invest every day. By the end of the day, there’s a good chance that willpower will be running dry.

Completing a dull or difficult task takes willpower. If you haven’t got enough willpower to complete a job at the end of the day you’re more likely to sit there huffing and puffing over it and taking any opportunity to distract yourself from it as you can – prolonging your time in the office or occupying your thoughts when you leave.

Go Cold Turkey

If you still can’t tune out after doing all of the above, it’s a sign you might need to try something more extreme. A number of holiday companies now offer digital detox retreats where you are either encouraged or ordered to go without your mobile phone or laptop for entire weekends or weeks – helping to break the habit of being constantly tuned in.

Categories: Small Businesses

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