Take a Break. Why working 24/7 Isn’t the Answer to Business Success

small-business-owner-work-life-balanceInstant communications, continuous connectivity, multi-tasking and mobile technologies have spawned a business mind-set that, in order to be successful, people need to be on top of their business 24/7.  Small business owners who are trying to get their fledgling business off the ground are particularly susceptible to this mindset.

Yet, recent studies have clearly shown that this kind of misguided devotion to one’s work, actually leads to a decline in productivity, ill health and overall dissatisfaction with life in general. And it seems that multi-tasking isn’t all that efficient after all.

In other words 24/7 is a not necessarily a formula for success.  

Why 24/7?

 24/7 is today’s overachiever model.  And since entrepreneurs tend to be overachievers with a voracious appetite for work, they readily fall into this trap. They see the stories of successful companies built by the relentless and determined efforts of type-A personalities. Entrepreneurs see themselves in the same light and harbor the same ambitions of these business millionaires and thus they impose the same idealistic expectations on themselves. 

In taking this track, they either don’t see or won’t acknowledge the cost to their health, their families and their personal lives. Granted, this is a tough balance to achieve. Building a business does take incredible commitment and long hours, but 24/7 is simply not a guarantee of success.

Success also requires basics like sleep and finding time to step back and assess strategies and plans. Maintaining perspective and strategic planning are also critical and won’t happen effectively if you’re exhausted, stressed out and spending every minute multi-tasking.

 The Challenge

Being successful in business and in life means learning how to manage one’s time effectively – which isn’t the same as scheduling one’s days by the minute. Overscheduling can give one a false sense of being in control, when it often is just another way to stay in constant motion.

One good starting point is to manage client imposed expectations. In a world where technology has accelerated the pace of accomplishment and people get instant gratification with the click of a mouse, customers expect 24/7 access and quick turnaround on responses.  Set some reasonable boundaries and stick to them. If you start making exceptions, you’ll lose the battle pretty quickly and be bound by someone else’s needs. 

And monitor your technology addictions. Mobile technology and constant connectivity encourages people to slip into 24/7 work mode.  After all, it’s just one more email, right? Try turning if off for a while and see what happens. The world probably won’t come to an end, but you might find the space to have some creative inspiration about your business and life.

 Where 24/7 Leads

It’s a no brainer that this kind of constant responsiveness leads to high levels of stress. That’s not healthy for your body and can contribute to heart disease and other illnesses, which ultimately are bad news for you and bad news for your business. Add poor nutrition and lack of exercise to the mix and you’ve got a great recipe for ill health.  

Business decision-making and idea generation often suffer when there is a total immersion in the business without the opportunity step back and take some space.  If your thought process gets locked into a singular direction it, you might not see other business solutions or new ideas.  The old adage about not seeing the forest for the trees, is perfectly suited for business owners who are so overwhelmed with the day to day that they can’t see the greater strategic picture. 

So take a break occasionally – even if you need to schedule it on your calendar at first. After all, didn’t you go into your own business to have a better life?

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