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Work without stress? Probably not

Running a business is stressful. For most of us business owners, there is no clocking out. Our lives are a constant whirlwind of the pressures of our work. Gone are the days that 5 p.m meant our current project would either have to wait until tomorrow or, better yet, was “someone else’s problem now.”

Because that “someone else” is me. My current project is this half-made sandwich that I might have to wait until tomorrow to eat because I’m too busy with [insert infinite business problems here].

If you are anything like me, deadlines have a new meaning; the credibility of my business is on the line. Losing current and potential customers is a blow much more crushing than any reprimanding supervisor.

So, how do I stay on top of my obligations?

The answer is simple: good old American hard work. Oh, and also hours of mentally-draining worrying, pacing and late nights over-thinking in bed followed by unnaturally early mornings.

However, life is all about perspective, and becoming the early bird should give you a new, fulfilling appetite for worms.

During the last year, I have developed some strategies for dealing with the mental stress of being the boss, the accountant, the guy in the trenches, and the intern who gets coffee for himself. I hope you can use them, too:

Don’t try to keep everything in your head. When a barrage of tasks comes your way, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the thought of a never-ending workload. However, if you take a second to write it all down on a piece of paper, you may realize that you’ve only written down three or four things. I’m a little eccentric, so I actually have the wall next to my bed covered in a pattern of Post-it notes for those nighttime “eureka!” moments.

— Don’t give negative thoughts a voice. Nobody breaks down from too many angels on his shoulder or from an excess of encouraging praise. The vast majority of us have an innate need for recognition and we may second-guess ourselves without it. Sometimes, when times are tough and all my cheerleaders have gone home, I pick up the poms and cheer for myself. “I’m awesome. Look how far I’ve come. I got this!” It helps to say it out loud, maybe to the mirror. Don’t worry, mirrors won’t judge you.

— Know when its time to stop thinking. Unless you happen to be currently in the emergency room, the present moment is a wonderful time in our lives. Make quick work of reflections on the past and thoughts of the future and focus on what you can enjoy about right now. It’s true, the best business owners are often careful planners. Then again, there is a point where it is better for your business if you stop and relax than to plan for your 1000th “what-if” scenario. For me, that time is around 3 a.m. and rarely do any of my concerns have any consequence in about 4 hours.

Apparently, some humans need sleep.