Especially if you’re just starting out with a new business or venture, I believe that creating space for sustainable self-care practices is key. This way, when your ideas start to take off and you’re drawn into the hustle of entrepreneurship, you’ll already have what you need to make space for yourself.
I strive to do this for myself by creating routines, boundaries and schedules that support me.
Routines don’t have to be mind-numbing or stressful; they can be something as simple as choosing a bedtime that works for you, and following specific steps before you crawl into bed (brushing teeth and stretching for example). Many entrepreneurs have morning rituals they swear by, as well. These can take thousands of different forms based on your individual needs, so I recommend reading about other entrepreneurs’ morning routines so you can gather some inspiration and explore what works for you.
Routines, whichever ones you choose, are designed to support your own health and needs outside of the hustle so that you naturally buffer that time in for yourself. I know that, without a routine, I tend to overextend and give too much of myself, which always leads to burnout.
Hand-in-hand with creating routines is creating healthy boundaries. As we focus on our business, it’s so easy to fall into the habit of saying “yes” to everything, or taking on more than we’re capable of handling. This is a situation I’ve found myself in many times, but it’s only something I can consciously address when I remember my boundaries.
This could mean not answering that phone call, or putting a new client on a waitlist rather than forcing yourself to work longer hours to accommodate their needs. Boundaries can also include deciding when you read your email, when you schedule coffee dates, and when you’re totally unavailable to your customers, clients, or team.
Sticking to your boundaries is one of the hardest things you’ll learn as an entrepreneur, but there’s so much value in knowing what you need to be successful. Think about which areas you’re overextending and how you can create boundaries that are respectful of others and yourself. Then stick to them!
I didn’t think too much about this when I started my business, because I was coming from a traditional 9-5. But as my business grew, I realized that you can shape your life and your days however you want (within reason, of course). Don’t want to work 9-5, Monday through Friday? Figure out which days are your most productive, which days are best for meetings, or which days you really need to use to reset. Lean into the flexibility that entrepreneurship provides, and craft your days based on how you work best.
Also question yourself when you find yourself thinking, “This is what my work life should look like.” Constantly hustling may feel more productive in the moment, but the truth is that, without the time away to reflect on what we’re really doing, it’s impossible to get the clarity we need. This can lead to loss of momentum, loss of interest, and deep burnout.
Working in the way that works best for you will allow you to produce your best work and treat your clients or customers the way they deserve to be treated. If that looks like 10am to 3pm four days a week, lean into that and see what it offers you.
Self-care doesn’t always look like bath bombs and meditation music (although there’s definitely a place for that). Instead, it’s about creating the space you need as a creative entrepreneur to reset, refresh, and focus on what you want most from your business.
My best advice for someone looking to foster a creative career: establish a healthy relationship with work from the get-go. I know how easy it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, but self-employment is a long game, and you have to build in the time to recharge and replenish.