Entrepreneurial Insight

Entrepreneurial Insight

How to Burn the Midnight Oil
(Without Getting Burned)

When new entrepreneurs make the initial decision to start a company, they often envision working fewer hours and experiencing a more leisurely schedule—one that allows them to tailor their work life around their personal life and not the other way around.

But, in most cases, not too much time passes before these individuals discover the workload involved with any startup will require burning the midnight oil. In fact, most studies estimate the majority of entrepreneurs will have no less than a 60-hour work week, a conservative number compared to the 80-hour weeks of many famous entrepreneurs.

If you want to put your best foot forward as a new business owner, you can’t afford to just dip your toes in to get a feel for the temperature: you have to plunge yourself in full force. After all, these are your dreams you’re working to make come true. In addition, depending on the size of your company, you might have a lot of people depending on you.

So, how do you prevent burning out before you even get the chance to light your industry on fire with your new business? Read the tips below to get a handle on how to achieve a balance that will keep your work life and personal life running smoothly.


  • Don’t be afraid to shut down at night. While it might seem alluring to knock a few more items off your “To-Do” list right before you go to sleep, this will only do more harm than good in the long run. The problem with this habit is two-fold. First, if you’re groggy and exhausted, you simply won’t be contributing your best work. Second, you’re harming your body and mind when you fail to get enough sleep. You won’t only be setting yourself up for failure that night when you email the wrong person or insert the wrong set of calculations in a project—you’ll most likely also need a pot of coffee just to make it through the whole next work day. Turn off your devices and realize that by hitting the hay, you’re taking the first steps to a more productive tomorrow.


  • Focus on your best working times. Everyone has a different entrepreneurial style. This not only includes how you manage your clients and motivate your employees, but also the times at which you work to your fullest potential. Some business men and women successfully pack in a full cardio routine, eat on a protein-packed breakfast, and put in two hours of work before the rest of us even hit snooze on our alarm clocks. It’s OK if that schedule works best for them. But if, no matter how hard you try, you just aren’t a morning person, don’t beat yourself up. Sure, you will still have to conform to the norms of 9-5 business hours and take a few early-morning meetings, but, when you don’t have those appointments, focus your time and energy on the hours that work best for you. Tackle your most important projects at the time when you’re the most alert and passionate about your work.


  • Schedule time for yourself. Write personal time into your calendar. Whether it takes the click of a mouse or the stroke of a pen, do it. And don’t hit delete or erase unless absolutely necessary. It’s easy to forget about the basics like a date night with your significant other or a much-needed night on the couch with popcorn and a queue of your favorite TV series on Netflix. And while it may first appear like a waste of time, it’s not. In fact, everyone needs that personal time to physically and mentally recharge. Without it, you will be unhappy at work, and that will reflect in all aspects of your business.


  • Stay in-tune with your body. Staying physically strong can also help you stay mentally sharp as an entrepreneur. The body and mind communicate with one another continually. This is why making sure to get exercise and eat right are key. Exercise will not only keep you healthy, but also serves as a great way to eliminate stress from the job. Eating the right foods can do the same. Getting sick might be inevitable, but by staying in-tune with your body and listening to its signals that you’re overworked will help you lose less days at the office. And when you do become sick don’t always force yourself to suit up and go to the office—you risk making others sick and will slow your recovery time.
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