Mental Health Tips For Online Entrepreneurs in 2021
This week on Mind Over Motherhood, I share an interview I recently did with Katie Cannon for her virtual summit: How to Build a Fitness and Health Brand in 2021.
Katie approached me as a mental health expert with the question of “How do you build an online business in 2021 and maintain your mental health at the same time?”
The truth is: entrepreneurship is exciting, exhilirating and at times, overwhelming. The very nature of entrepreneurship requires a lot of time, energy and emotional investment to be successful.
So in this episode, I am sharing some of my best mental health tips for entrepreneurs. These strategies will help you manage your time (with competing demands) and reduce overwhelm, supported by neuroscience!
When we can work WITH our brain’s natural wiring instead of against it, we can help us maintain good mental health while building an online business.
Looking for my best mental health tips for entrepreneurs? Read on!
Mental Health For Entrepreneurs Tip #1: Focus on Single-Tasking
One of the most common questions I get is “how do I balance being a mom, having a 9-5, and having a partner with my business or passions AND having a life?”
As an entrepreneur and mother, it is very common that I feel pulled in many different directions. Perhaps you feel this way as well.
By nature, entrepreneurship is exciting and demanding. It is the type of job that the inbox is never “really empty,” so we can feel constantly pulled to work on our business.
However, simply being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean our life stops. We still have other responsibilites and things that need our time and attention (like our families and self-care.) One of the most common feelings expressed by my clients who are entrepreneurs is feeling pulled in so many different directions at once.
When we are feeling pulled in many different directions at the same time, we tend to resort to multitasking. It seems like a good idea at the time.
If I can do multiple things at the same time, I will get more done in less time, right?
So before you know it, you’re cooking dinner, writing a blog post and watching your kid do a craft. It seems like you’re handling all of those tasks perfectly, until it doesn’t. You get overwhelmed, frustrated and melt down. Not ideal.
The truth is: our brains are actually not capable of multitasking.
Although it seems like we can multitask, our brains are actually doing multiple tasks in rapid fire sequence. What looks like doing multiple tasks at once is in fact our brains task-switching rapidly between tasks in sequence.
When we are constantly task-switching, we are asking our brain to use more of it’s valuable cognitive resources to do so. Research on the brain shows that we use less energy and cognitive resources when we focus on one task until completion, or batch similar tasks.
The energy we use to switch rapidly from one task to another drains our brain of it’s valuable (and limited resources.)
When we run out of brain resources, we get overwhelmed. This is not good for our mental health.
So one of the most important things we can do for our mental health as entrepreneurs is to stop multitasking.
Your brain is not wired for it, and it actually uses up really valuable energy to do it.
Focus on single-tasking. Work on one task at a time to completion, and then move on to another task.
This strategy alone will help you reduce your feelings of overwhelm and improve your mental health as an entrepreneur (and general human being, too.)
Mental Health For Entrepreneurs Tip #2: Block your time!
You’ve likely heard of the benefits of time-blocking before, but did you ever know that time-blocking actually works with our brain’s wiring to make us feel less overwhelmed?
Not only is this strategy pretty simple to use, but the effects on your mental health can be felt almost immediately. There is something really beautiful about knowing everything important in your life has it’s own designated time in your schedule.
If you’re new to time-blocking, the process is simple.
Step 1. Get yourself an agenda or calendar with a weekly spread. I’ve found a number of these types, and Passion Planner is a really good one fo this.
Step 2. Reserve time at the beginning of a new week. I love using Sundays for this activity.
Step 3. Consider all of the “big areas” of your life that you spend time and energy in each week.
For example, you may have time spent with your family, time for your self-care (this is a high priority!), time for your job and time for your online business. You may also want to take time towards social/relationships so you can focus on your marriage or current relationship.
Step 4. Next, look ahead to your weekly schedule and block out time for each of those areas. I love using different coloured highlighters to create a visual signal that the time is designated for a particular task/activity.
For example, I always use a pink highlighter to block in my self-care time. Usually this occurs from 5:30-7:00am, so each day I use the pink to fill in that time.
I also will choose some constraints around some areas in my life (ie. my business time.) I plan to spend 10 hours each week on my online business, so I block those hours in so that I ensure I keep my attention and energy reserved for other things in life that are also important!
Time-blocking works so well for 2 reasons:
1. It helps you be more present where you are. When you are relaxing with your kids, and feel the urge to multitask and work on your business, you can relax and release that feeling because you know that you’ve already scheduled it in.
Most of us have experienced being in one area of our life (with our family) but feeling pulled towards spending more time on our business, and this is stressful! Not only that, but our attention becomes divided and that impacts our relationships with our loved ones.
2. Time blocking also helps you relax about “when you will get everything done.” By intentionally outlining everything you need to do, and then providing time to do it in your week, you will rest easy knowing that you have the time to do what you need to do.
Mental Health For Entrepreneurs Tip #3: Days In/On/Off
Days In/Days On/Days Off is a strategy I learned from one of my coaches, and I find it very helpful for entrepreneurs who run their businesses full time. It is also another time management strategy that helps you work in alignment with how your brain is wired, and maximizes your workflow for productivity AND mental health.
So why is this strategy aligned with neuroscience?
When we are constantly switching between unrelated tasks (for example, being on a client call, then switching to write a blog post, then doing some financial projections), we demand more resources of our brains.
This task-switching causes us to deplete our cognitive resources sooner, and then leaves us feeling more distractible and makes it harder to focus and complete tasks.
If you struggle with being able to focus on one task at a time, it’s often that multitasking and task-switching has become a habit for your brain.
Using Days On/Off/In strategy or similar strategies helps us keep our tasks in the same cognitive domain, and reduces the frequency of time we need to task switch.
How to Use Days In, Days On, Days Off
Essentially when you sit down to plan your week, make sure that you’re scheduling days when you are working in your business, on your business and days when you’re completely off.
So for example on your days in you’re working on the tasks that your business sells, so working with clients, projects or products.
On days when you’re working on your business, you’re working on planning, organizing and behind the scenes tasks that need to be done for your business to run. Tasks like social media, email marketing, accounting.
Days off are exactly what they sound like. Days when you’re giving yourself the full day off of your work and business so that you can rest and play. So many entrepreneurs skip these days, but there’s been plenty of research that giving yourself time to rest and play will give you more creative and productive energy.
The biggest take away for mental health for entrepreneurs is that entrepreneurship can cause burnout. Your work is never done, but you need to take time off so that your brain can be healthy.
Mental Health for Entrepreneurs Tip #4: You Need To Check-In
In order to be entrepreneurs, mothers, partners, employees, chaffeurs, caregivers, etc etc etc….we need a lot of energy.
The truth is, we only have SO much energy to give.
As energy is a limited resource, we need to be ruthless about how we manage our energy in order to be productive and mentally well.
Being intentional about how you spent your time, and manage your energy allows you to make the most of the time you’ve scheduled to work on your business.
I recommend a daily check-in with yourself to assess where your energy level is at on a given day. I usually advise this to be done in the morning when you do your self-care routine (you do have a self-care routine, right? K good.)
By checking in with yourself daily, you can plan your schedule and day in alignment with it.
It’s not very wise to schedule a hundred extra tasks when you know that your energy is lower than normal.
Best tip? Check-in with yourself and how you’re feeling frequently. If you don’t feel great, don’t push yourself, instead give yourself some energizing self-care or rest.
Most of us want to have sustained energy (not big burst of energy followed by burn out). Managing your energy by taking care of what your body and brain needs is key to sustained energy.
Mental Health For Entrepreneurs Tip #4: Don’t Do It All
I am the queen of outsourcing. I love outsourcing anything that I don’t personally have to do.
In entrepreneurship, business, motherhood and well….life, this is a strategy that is often underused but SO valuable for improving and maintaining mental health.
Mothers and entrepreneurs are notorious for thinking that they can and should do it all, because they hold on to the false belief that “no one can do it like me” or that asking for help makes them weak. I’ll tell you right now: both of those beliefs are BS. That’s it, BS.
We actually need to be doing less things and outsourcing as much as we can.
When we focus on doing ONLY the things that ONLY we can do, we free up our energy to focus on the things that truly light us up and help us prioritze rest.
So whether it’s hiring a VA to work on your social media (thank you Tess!), hiring someone to cut your lawn, walk your dog, pick up your groceries or write those damn emails you hate, do it.
After all, most of us became entrepreneurs so we could DO what we LOVE. So that’s what we should focus on! The more we focus on doing what we LOVE, the better our mental health will be naturally.
THIS EPISODE DIGS INTO:
- How multitasking impacts our mental health as entrepreneurs, and how to avoid it
- My best strategies for improving and maintaining your mental health as an entrepreneur (or as anyone, really)
- Suggestions on how to manage your time so you can stop feeling pulled in 100 different directions at once!
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AUTHOR: DR. CARLY CREWE, MD
Dr. Carly Crewe is a mom to twin toddlers, a modern day nomad and MD Psychotherapist specializing in women's mental health.
Carly believes that when women are well, they have the power to heal and change the world.
Her mission is to revolutionize the women’s mental health care, from fragmented and haphazard to a holistic, comprehensive and integrated approach that meets every woman where she is and addresses the multidimensional reality of mental health.
Dr. Crewe is the founder of Eunoia Medical, a speciality mental health clinic for women in pursuit of a well mind. Carly runs a revolutionary mental health membership for women, The Eunoia Collective.
Carly is the host of the Mind Over Motherhood Podcast and is an Amazon best-selling author. Her newest book You Are Not Your Anxiety: How to Stop Being An Anxious, People-Pleasing Mess will be launching for presale on International Women’s Day March 8th, 2021.