5 Tips for Balancing Your Life and Avoiding the E.R.

“When did the chest pains begin?” the ER doctor questioned me.

“Just a couple of hours ago. I feel like I can’t breath and I haven’t done anything. I’m light-headed. I was just sitting in the car,” I said. My responses triggered a flurry of activity and medical equipment began to record information from all the wires now attached to me.

After studying the tests, with a wave of the ER doctor’s hand, everyone left the room. Now alone with him, he handed me a cup with a straw and said, “Drink this.” Within moments all the pain stopped, my breathing calmed down.

Sitting in front of me, the doctor said, “You did the right thing. If you ever have these kinds of symptoms again, you should not hesitate to come to the emergency room. But today, this is not a heart attack, you’re experiencing an anxiety attack with acid reflux. It feels just like a heart attack.”

“Anxiety attack . . . ? How did that happen,” I said, feeling stupid for causing everyone so much alarm.

“Anxiety attacks are typically physical reactions to emotional or mental stress. It tends to start small and build up to what you just had-a full blown episode. I have some bad news and some good news.”

“What’s the bad news?” I asked cringing.

“This is self-inflicted,” he said writing on my chart.

“And the good news?” I asked hoping for some magical fix.

He winked, “This is self-inflicted,” and left the exam room.

That was the day I learned the five rules of entrepreneurship:

Rule #1 – Take care of you first

Working out, eating right and sleeping must come first. As a home-based business, it’s too easy to cram work, home, and everyone else’s needs above your own. All it takes is one phone call to set the day on tilt. So create a hard fast rule, “Nothing before nine a.m.” Regardless of the time you get up, pick a start time for the day. Everyone needs time to: wake up, stretch, plan the day’s food, meditate, drink coffee, and spend time with the people in your house.

Rule #2 – Plan the day

I’ve heard the saying, “Plan your work and work your plan”, but never did it mean as much to me until I went into business for myself.  If you don’t have a plan, the day can slip away from you. Keep a legal pad on your desk and write down anything that comes to mind that must be done. You’ll feel a sense of pride when you check off an item. If you don’t know where to start your work day, start with a small job on the list and before you realize it, you’ll be in work mode. Keep a hard line quitting time. The list will be there tomorrow.

Rule #3 -Set limits

Vital for success is learning to say ‘No.’ A well-meaning yes, could derail your time and energy. I’m not suggesting that we never say yes to others, but I am suggesting you plan for them. Try keeping one day a week as a ‘give back’ day. On my ‘give back’ day, I will run errands for shut-ins, take someone out for lunch or bake cookies for the local fire-fighters. The list can be long, but it’s planned.

Rule #4-Work when it’s work time, play when it’s play time

Plan to play once a week. Because being an entrepreneur requires creativity and high energy, by Friday generally, there’s nothing creative left. You might have to work from nine to noon completing business and marketing items, but then get out of the office and play. Set golf dates, kayaking or junk store shopping, but play.

Playing will keep you from acting as if people are an interruption to your work and will prevent burn out.

And let’s face it, hands-on parenting (even grown children) and relationships, has its stresses. My friend and I have stuck to this schedule for 30+ years. In fact, our family members realize we’re so much better once we’ve been together that they often suggest we go play and offer to pay for our lunches!

Rule#5 -Live in the moment

When you’re with your family, be with your family; your phone can wait. In this digital world that allows us to work from anywhere, it also can intrude anywhere. It takes time to train customers that you have work hours, and outside of those times be present in your life. Likewise, it takes time to teach friends and family that during work hours, you’re working. If you treat your job as a business, then others will too.

Truth is; I love working for myself. I can set my schedule, and work on projects I’m passionate about. I don’t have a boss looking over my shoulder and my commute is just down the hall. I work in ugly sweats, with two dogs under my feet.

The good news is creating your rules for balancing life and work, will afford you the rewards of a home-based business and keep you out of the emergency room!