How to Cope With Routine Change as an Entrepreneur

When you start your first business, or when that business takes an unexpected shift, your routine is going to change. You’ll be forced to take on new responsibilities, extend your work schedule, and possibly make personal sacrifices to make everything fit.

Though you might be motivated by the idea that all these sacrifices will be for a better life or financial success, the reality is, any major change in your routine is going to come with stress and anxiety. Knowing how to manage that stress is imperative if you want to be successful—and keep your personal life from suffering in the meantime.

Three Types of Impact

Ultimately, there are three types of impact you’ll face when your routine undergoes a sudden change:

  1. Unfamiliar, inefficient patterns. First, you’ll be stuck doing things in an unfamiliar order, or accomplishing unfamiliar tasks. These patterns of activity tend to be inefficient since you haven’t had time to develop them, so the combination of unfamiliarity and inefficiency can make your life much more stressful.
  2. Personal relationships. Living with a partner can make a routine change even more stressful. A new sleep-wake pattern can disrupt both of your sleep cycles, and a lack of time for romance or bonding time can make your relationship more difficult to manage.
  3. Uncertainty and future anxiety. How long will you need to maintain this new routine? When will you be able to revert back to your old approach? Will there be even more stressful changes in the future? This uncertainty can wrack you with anxiety.

Coping Strategies

While you may not have much control over how your new routine manifests, or whether you can get your old routine back, there are some coping strategies you can use to lower your stress and anxiety during this transition:

  • Focus on one thing at a time. You can overcome the stress of facing an uncertain future and limit your exposure to currently harmful side effects by focusing on one thing at a time. This includes both tasks related to your work, and possible stresses related to your personal life. For example, if you’re trying to complete a quote for a client, don’t start worrying about how you’re going to find a new hire in time for the next coding sprint.
  • Maintain at least one consistent ritual. Routines are important because they ground us; they provide us with at least some consistency in an otherwise chaotic world. Make sure that no matter how complicated your routine gets, or how stressed you become, you have at least one daily ritual. That might be a fresh cup of coffee in the morning or a favorite TV show before bed; whatever it is, make it a point to do it consistently.
  • Talk about your stress. Don’t be afraid to open up about the stress you’re experiencing. Being an entrepreneur can be isolating, so it’s on you to reach out and ask for the help you deserve. If you have a partner or spouse, tell them how the new routine is affecting you, and ask them for their support. If not, talk to friends or family members, and try to continue being social.
  • Make time for yourself. Even if you’re busy, it’s important to make time for the things you enjoy in your personal life. Schedule at least one day a week when you can relax, engage in your favorite hobbies, and spend time with your friends and family. You have to make it a point to schedule this time, or your other responsibilities may interfere with your ability to do it.
  • Note and address side effects as they arise. Pay attention to how your new routine is affecting your life. Do you find that you’re sleeping less? Have you gained weight? Are you more irritable around your family? It’s important to address any of these changes as they develop, so you have time to proactively correct them. You can’t get rid of all of them, but acknowledgment is the first step to finding a resolution.
  • Adopt new stress management exercises. You’ll also need new ways to deal with your increased levels of stress. For example, even a few minutes of mindfulness meditation can reduce your stress levels and re-center your mind. And physically exercising can reduce stress, boost your mood and energy, and reduce your risk for many different diseases and ailments.

With these coping strategies, you should be able to handle whatever new stresses your business throws at you. Just be prepared; this probably won’t be the last time your routine needs to change unexpectedly. Entrepreneurship is a life of constant adaptation, so it’s best to stay on your toes and avoid growing too accustomed to any one set of circumstances.

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