Home Business Magazine Online
People who work from home can sometimes feel as though they’re never off the clock. For entrepreneurs, especially those in the early stages of getting a business off of the ground, this can come as a huge detriment to both their home life and their work life. Even entrepreneurs working in traditional offices can find it difficult to balance their passion for business with their love for their family, and having both of these things located in the same space can seriously increase stress.
At the same time, however, working from home provides an added level of autonomy that many entrepreneurs would not trade for the world. For some, the ability to take a more flexible approach makes working both more enjoyable and productive.
However, even those who have created a routine that has been proven to work well for them are still at risk of encountering mental blocks and burnout. As much as we would like to avoid them, these unpleasant states are just part of the risk that comes with the immense responsibilities every entrepreneur takes upon themselves.
Entrepreneurs at all stages of their careers experience these episodes, and they can sometimes feel insurmountable. For those who work from home, these problems can carry over into their personal lives and relationships in a way that is especially unpleasant for everyone involved. Learning to identify the signs of an impending burnout and respond effectively is paramount for entrepreneurs who work from home.
Fortunately, entrepreneurs have an especially large toolkit at their disposal when it comes to getting past mental blocks. Below are some time-tested and innovative strategies that are essential for anyone building and maintaining a business from home.
Clear your mind
When a person is overwhelmed with anxieties and responsibilities, taking a moment to pause is often the last thing they want to do. This is especially true for entrepreneurs, who are often extremely passionate about their work and feel a sense of urgency, as they are ultimately responsible for the entire business. Being unproductive is often the cause of a lot of entrepreneurs’ feelings of frustration or inadequacy, so taking a break can seem like a completely counterproductive solution.
However, research has shown time and time again that stepping back from a difficult task is the best way to break the cycle of negativity that keeps entrepreneurs feeling stuck. The notion that breaks are “unproductive” is one that business leaders would do well to unlearn: it is much more helpful to think of them as being productive in a different way. For instance, a walk or a short burst of exercise might not directly contribute to the task at hand, but they can help you clear your head and release endorphins that improve your mood and problem-solving ability, ultimately making the work easier to do.
One of the great benefits of working from home is that you have more autonomy over how and when you take your breaks. Some powerful stress relievers, like lying on a couch and listening to some music, simply are not possible in an office setting. Being at home generally allows for more varied and creative break options, which is a massive boon, as introducing variety into your routine is one of the best ways to avoid feeling stuck.
Work often requires us to exert one part of our brain for an extended period of time, which, as with our muscles, can result in tiredness and strain. Taking a break from work to do something that engages a different part of your brain helps keep you sharp while preventing you from overexerting yourself. Research has shown that activities such as adult coloring books and even certain types of video games can be great for boosting your mood while also providing you with a sense of mastery that makes you feel more ready to tackle other kinds of problems.
A change of scenery
Another core way entrepreneurs can combat mental blocks is by making changes to their working/living space. Many entrepreneurs have trouble getting out of “work mode” already, and working from home can dramatically worsen this. It’s important to be very careful and intentional about how you set up working space and how you differentiate it from living space.
One of the benefits of being at home is that you own or rent the space yourself, giving you far more agency over how it looks and feels. It’s a good idea to take full advantage of this by curating everything from your desk, chair, and screens to the color of the walls and the temperature of your thermostat, and continually adjusting the environment until it feels conducive to doing your best work.
However, the most crucial step is to ensure that you are differentiating your home and work spaces as clearly and definitively as possible. While it might seem tempting to take advantage of being at home by spending some time working from your kitchen table or living room couch, doing so can cause your brain to associate these comfortable spaces with the stresses of work. Instead of trying to relieve stress by doing the same thing in different spaces, try, as far as possible, to ensure that different areas of your home remain associated with different mental and emotional states.
In addition to reevaluating where you work, it’s also important to try to reframe how you work. Many of the strategies that work in the office work just as well at home, such as tackling the largest and most complex parts first to get them out of the way, or rattle off some quick-win tasks to get your creative juices flowing. You can never go wrong with identifying the specific problems that are causing you to feel a mental block and breaking them down into more workable parts.
You can also apply this concept to your career more broadly. If entrepreneurship is starting to feel like a chore, or like something that provides more stress than purpose, it might be time to consider new goals or challenges. Maybe it’s time to try to give back, either by spending time as a volunteer out in the community, or by mentoring new entrepreneurs or even ambitious staff members.
Finally, consider talking to friends, family or colleagues about the mental blockage and what’s causing it. They may have surprising insight into the condition and their own tips to provide, as people with less specific knowledge can often identify big-picture problems that you might ignore by hyper focusing on specific technical problems. Beyond that, the simple act of vocalizing a problem to someone else can help you reframe it in your own mind and discover more productive ways to approach it.
Ultimately, there’s no one strategy that will always break you out of a funk; instead, it’s better to think of it as a network of strategies that provide different benefits depending on the specific situation at hand. While working from home can add new hurdles to your working life, it can also offer you new solutions to help overcome those hurdles. By taking the time to experiment with different strategies and find out what works best for you, you might discover that working from home allows you to be the best entrepreneur you can be.
About Zain Jaffer
Zain Jaffer is a tech entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of Zain Ventures, an investment firm that invests globally in start-ups, real estate, stocks, fixed income, hedge funds, and private equity.