The startup lifestyle can be grueling. If you’re not careful, it can take a serious toll on your physical and mental health. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a CTO, a programmer or work in a nontechnical capacity; everyone needs a startup survival strategy to help them maintain their work-life balance as they learn to juggle an ever-growing workload, excessively long days and a personal life. It can be a pretty daunting task. Those who aren’t careful may find themselves suffering from burnout.
Anyone working at the forefront of technology and innovation is no stranger to the demands of startup life. In an industry where leaving the office before 8 p.m. is often frowned upon, it’s no surprise that industry leaders like Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer brag about working 130-hour weeks from time to time. Then there’s the famous Apple slogan, which has also helped set an industry precedent: “90 hours a week and loving it.” These increasing demands, coupled with the do-more-with-less mentality of such work environments, are having a detrimental effect on employees.
There’s a good chance that everyone who works at a startup has or will experience bouts of stress and burnout from time to time. What’s important is that one knows how to deal with the demands of the startup workplace.
Below are five tips for surviving the startup lifestyle.
- Get a life. Your work, while demanding, shouldn’t be performed at the expense of your life. It’s important to spend time with loved ones and make time to do the things you enjoy. Don’t neglect your relationships. But more importantly, don’t neglect yourself. While this may feel like a waste of time, it will leave you feeling refreshed, energized and ready to tackle your to-do list head on.
- Accept your limitations. Working at a startup doesn’t have to mean overtime and impending burnout. If you’re an efficient multitasker, you’ll be able to cram a decent amount of tasks into a full day of work. It’s essential that you understand your own needs. For some, perhaps an extended lunch break increases concentration and productivity overall, whereas some may benefit from short, frequent breaks throughout the day. Determine your needs and limitations to ensure you’re as efficient as you can be.
- Get moving. Exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle often fall by the wayside as workload increases. Being active will not only help you keep in shape but will increase your productivityin addition to making you happier and more energetic. So get moving and while you’re at it, pay attention to the food you are consuming. Certain foods are linked to increased brain stimulation, while others cause steep energy declines. These are simple lifestyle changes that may greatly improve your quality of life and will make you a more productive member of your startup
- Disconnect after hours. Just because you have a smartphone doesn’t mean you shouldn’t disengage from the office. Unless it’s something pressing, there’s no need to respond to emails outside office hours. And if you’re someone who has a tendency to obsessively check email, removing work email from your phone may be a good option. It’s important to take a break and make some time for yourself at the end of a long day.
- Write your manifesto. It’s important to be aware of what you stand for and what you want out of life. Do you know what your main life goals are? Is your current job getting you any closer to reaching them? Constantly evaluating your goals will help you see your job in a different light. For example, it may help you realize it’s time to find something that more closely matches your manifesto. Whatever it is that you discover, having a personal manifesto written out will help you see the big picture.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Image credit: CC by Dr. Abdullah Naser