Startup founders share seven health and wellbeing routines that keep them thriving

We know that running a business is time consuming and can be difficult to manage. That’s why we’ve taken the time to speak to experienced startup founders and put together a guide full of wellbeing tips to help you navigate life’s ups and downs while managing your startup.

On average according to Gallup, 62% of startup founders put in anywhere from 50-60 hours per week working on their startup, often spending their weekends working overtime.

Working long hours takes its toll on wellbeing and can be extremely isolating. 

It’s important to take some time to reflect on your current routines, determine what’s working well for you and what could use some improvement. If you’re struggling to find the right balance between work and wellbeing, we’ve got you covered – find tips on how to manage below. 

What are the benefits of wellbeing routines?

Building routines can help reduce the build up of stress. Routines provide a sense of stability and structure in times of uncertainty. It’s not easy sticking to routines and it’s not supposed to be – but if you nail it, it will have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing. 

You might be asking yourself, what really are the benefits of routines? There are a number of ways a routine can benefit your mental health and wellbeing. Here are just a few for starters: 

  • Reduced stress levels
  • Better concentration and more energy 
  • Improved decision-making 
  • Increased confidence and sense of certainty
  • Feelings of security and control 
  • Reduced cognitive load (don’t have to give as much thought to simple tasks)

Seven health and wellbeing tips and routines from founders

We spoke to founders to find out what they’ve added to their routines to help them work more efficiently and effectively while managing wellbeing.

1. The importance of regular goal setting

Goals provide us with a sense of direction and focus, and can also help motivate and inspire you and your employees. 

As productivity expert, Karen Eyre-White explains, getting into a rhythm of regular goal setting will help to keep you accountable.

“It’s so challenging being a solo founder, because you don’t have the baked-in accountability that comes from working in a partnership or team”, says Karen. “When I work with clients, I recommend planning in 12-week blocks. It’s a period of time which is both long enough to achieve something and immediate enough to get you motivated. 

“Book a planning day into your diary once every three months and stick to it. Review your progress against your last three month’s goals and plan your next three months,” she adds.

If you find yourself hitting that three-month deadline without much progress, Karen advises setting up an accountability group with other founders. It can be as simple as a WhatsApp group where you share your goals and update the group as you achieve them.

2. Work in batches

Karen also recommends working in batches, so you’re not constantly chopping and changing what you’re doing. 

“If you need to do social media posts regularly, write all of the social media posts together in one go. Then, use a scheduler to post them for you. That way, you get into the zone of what you’re doing,” she says.

Karen also advises assigning each session a clear goal, so you know you’re contributing to the bigger goals of your business. 

“If you’re spending three hours writing social media posts (because you’ve batched them), be clear how many you want to write and why social media is important for the success of your business. This helps to keep you motivated.

3. Preventing burnout

Symptoms of burnout include feeling detached, depressed and unproductive. As Karen explains, burnout happens when we try to do too much and it outstrips our capacity to cope. 

“I believe a productivity-focused mindset means accepting that you can’t do everything, and making good choices about what to do and what not to do, based on what’s most important and will get you closest to what you want to achieve,” she explains.

“When we do the right things, we make progress towards our goals faster. That gives us a sense of purpose and motivation which can help us to keep going even when things are hard.”

It’s important to recognise burnout warning signs early, so you can prevent it. Here are a few symptoms of burnout:

  • Feeling detached and alone 
  • Having a negative outlook 
  • Self-doubt 
  • Procrastination and taking longer to get things done

4. Slow and steady wins the race

Many startups make the mistake of biting off more than they can chew when starting their business. Spreading yourself too thinly can have a detrimental impact on your business in the early days and in the long run. Setting up a strong foundation for your startup is key to ensuring your business venture is successful. 

Learning to make steady, incremental progress was something that Borough 22 founder Ryan Panchoo experienced when first setting up his business:

“For me, it was learning not to do everything on that one day that I have off. Let’s just do little bits that will help you out down the line,” he says. 

5. Work life balance is key for workplace wellbeing

Work life balance won’t only benefit your employees; in the long run, it can also benefit your business too. Here’s how:

  • Lower level of absence, sickness and stress
  • Motivate and energise staff
  • Increase your business productivity and competitive edge
  • Boost staff morale 
  • Improve customer service 

It’s important to make sure you set boundaries around free time too. Watch TV, read a book, spend time with family and friends – remember that there is a life beyond your work and don’t get too swept up in the excitement of your side hustle. 

“You have to ask: is the business working for me or am I working for the business? Is it doing what I want it to do? That work life balance is essential,” says Ryan.

He adds, “You’ve got to look after yourself and have some separation from the business. If you don’t take time out for yourself, you build up stress and anxiety. And that takes its toll, even if you can’t see it.”

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6. Take some time off

Taking time off gives your body, mind and soul the opportunity to rest and recharge. This can in turn lead to less reported stress and burnout, fewer sleepless nights and generally fewer health complications such as back pain and headaches. More importantly, it’s some well-earned time for yourself.

Ryan, founder of Borough 22, advises taking set times throughout the year to step away from your business. “A goal for me every three months is to take a week off. I stop orders, and tell my suppliers. Book yourself a massage, go to a nice restaurant, do anything for yourself – because if you don’t, you build up all that stress, anxiety, and when you least expect it, something will go wrong,” he says.

Investing in work-free time can be daunting when you’re a solopreneur, but it can also prevent you from burning out entirely. Ryan adds: 

“Remember: if you keel over, who’s going to run your business? You have to look after yourself and step away, have some separation. This might be hard to do, because you have to have a strong work ethic and drive […] But you need to take that drive, and use it to know when to stop, pause and take a breather. Do something for yourself, celebrate what you’ve achieved already.”

7. Nail your time management

Effective time management improves your focus and productivity. If you want to prioritise growing your business whilst working on your wellbeing, you need to be strict with your time management. Time management is essential to the successful running of your business. 

Staying glued to your laptop well into the night is affecting your sleep, leading you to feel disorganised the next day. You’re double booking meetings, missing important family events – and the cycle continues. 

This is a feeling Sina Sadrzadeh, founder of Wing, recognises all too well. We spoke to him about how to manage your wellbeing when running your startup from home, where he advised, “I think to-do lists, and being strict about timings on each task is important. Once it hits a certain time, I’ll stop doing work completely.”

Using to-do lists to compartmentalise your tasks can also help you to manage your time better, along with setting up calendar alerts for meetings, and scheduling time to take a proper break in the middle of the day.

Sina adds that for founders working from home, time management is even more important: “It’s tempting to work religiously, but that’s no good in the long term […] Being able to separate your to-do list into segments so you have specific times to focus on certain tasks allows your mind to adjust – rather than switching from one thing to the other and feeling overwhelmed.”

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Author
Karina Kundzina
Karina Kundzina is the Content and Marketing Assistant at Inkwell, the company behind The Pitch.

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