The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “How do you stay sane with little to no free time?” is written by Ed Mitzen, founder of Fingerpaint Marketing.
This is the question that has plagued entrepreneurs since the dawn of time. When your world is filled to the brim with endless meetings, responsibility, and pressure, how do you keep it all together? I have found that these three habits can have a huge improvement on your sanity and make for a much more enjoyable journey.
1. Schedule “meetings” for your family time
When I was starting my current company Fingerpaint, my three children were 14, 13, and 9. At that time in their lives, they were very busy with classwork, sports, dance recitals, and other various after-school activities. It was also a busy time for me, working nearly 18 hours a day to ensure the business survived.
When I was at work, I felt guilty because I wasn’t spending time with my kids. When I was spending time with my kids, I felt like I should be at work or the business would fail. I was torn all the time and never present no matter where I was.
A friend of mine suggested that I schedule time with my family the way I schedule work meetings. Because my calendar ruled my life, I was very disciplined with how I spent my time. Once I started to schedule “meetings” on my calendar for things like school activities and softball games, it shifted my thinking, so I felt like I was where I was supposed to be. It helped diffuse my fear that I should be somewhere else, and it also enabled me to live more in the moment when I was with my children or at work. It was one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received in terms of improving my quality of life.
2. Give yourself 20
Many of us leave the office and immediately return home, still stuck in work mode. Our minds race with the work day, and we never have a chance to downshift before dinner or family time. When I get home from work, I give myself 20 minutes of me time. Whether it’s tossing on a pair of sweatpants and having a glass of scotch, or simply zoning out watching ESPN highlights, it allows me a chance to truly relax and wash away the day’s chaos. This metaphorical shift allows me to focus on my home life in the midst of having virtually no free time. If you can carve out a few minutes each day for some quiet me time, it will allow you to feel present and in control.
3. Don’t be afraid to be a kid
When you think back to the joyous freedom you had as a kid, with little to no responsibility, it's hard not to smile. A strange thing happens when we grow up—we start taking ourselves way too seriously. And this self-inflicted pressure can be crushing, especially while having every single minute of your day mapped out. Give yourself a break during the day and take a few minutes here or there to be 8 years old. Tell a joke to a coworker. Fire a Nerf gun across the office. Pet a dog. Laugh with others about last weekend’s Saturday Night Live skit. It doesn’t have to be an hour of goofing off. A few minutes interspersed during the day can have a huge impact on your sanity in the face of zero free time.