self care, entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs Don’t Ignore Your Health

Simple Tips for Making the Home Office Work for You

I’ve now been a 10 year self-employed writer, then a 10+ year massage therapist, a life coach, and most recently have grown my practice to have 20 employees. Including 15 massage therapists who train under me and see clients at my practice.

I’ve seen entrepreneurship from a lot of different angles. Both from my own experience and from working with and talking to hundreds of self-employed massage and coaching clients.

Along the way we’ve learned good practices for keeping your business from feeling like it’s all consuming. And ways to actually get and feel the freedom you were looking for going in... And the stability you thought you might never see again.

So, for whatever stage of entrepreneurship you are at, whether just starting out, or building out your third 100+ employee company, here’s some of our best advice for taking care of yourself and de-stressing.

It was a scary leap of faith to quit my “real” job but the benefits were just too enticing to pass by:

  • working from home
  • controlling my own hours
  • making way more per hour worked than when working for someone else
  • different job experiences each time
  • major tax write offs

But with the rewards come stress that can take a physical toll on your body.

  • The feast or famine syndrome (either having too much work at one time or none at all)
  • Managing your own schedule. A skill that none of us realized we lacked since parents, school and “job” handled all of that for us.
  • Learning how to negotiate, create contracts, and stick to deadlines. At least if you want to get paid decently, on time, and keep clients...
  • Saving money for when the work is slow (no more steady paycheck)
  • Beating the learning curve for every new client
  • Doing your own taxes (and they are far more complex)

Unless you’ve got a major investor or a business savvy partner (and often even if you DO), the beginning phase of any new business is a pretty stressful wild ride. Especially if this is your first venture into working for yourself. There are whole sets of systems that are needed that you had no idea were necessary. Suddenly you are building the boat to cross the river to success…… in the middle of the trip.

So, how do we entrepreneurs take better care of ourselves at home?

  1. Ergonomics (ie using the tools of your job in the most body friendly and efficient way) is a lot more important than you’ve given it credit for.

Glad to ditch the desk?…think again…

Desks were invented for a reason. Desks are designed to sit at and be able to write on at a height that is generally good for most people.

Work desks may not have been perfect. They are still light years better than typing at your kitchen table, the coffee table, or (god-forbid) on your lap on your couch.

If you spend more than 1 hour per workday typing,
I highly recommend investing the extra money in a real ergonomic workstation, meaning:

  • an actual desk (pro tip, buy a vintage desk rather than a cheap Ikea one and you’ll be able to sell it later with little to no loss of money and possible make a profit on it)
  • a desktop computer (either as your only computer or in addition to your laptop) with decent sized monitor and wireless keyboard/mouse
  • a good comfortable chair that has the ability to roll and easily change height, and has no arms
  • a convertible sit/stand desk unit to place on top of your desk (especially if you are typing several hours per day or staring at the screen for long periods)
  • a comfortable set of headphones with a mic for phone calls (holding the phone against your shoulder with your head while trying to type is a surefire way to give yourself a cervical spine injury)

However, if you are stuck with your laptop as your main computing tool, try these mods:

  • do at least get a wireless keyboard and mouse (you can find something halfway decent on eBay for $20-30)
  • stack the laptop on several books on your kitchen table (or the desk if you managed to get one) to bring the monitor height up to eye level
  • get the most comfortable chair you can find and get used to switching between typing on the wireless keyboard both on the table and on your lap (the table will be slightly too high and your lap slightly too low so switch every 30 minutes or so to relieve your wrists)

I’ve talked a lot here on at home care. Part 2 of this series will focus on what to do when you have to leave the office (on-site meetings, travel tips, etc.)

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