When I Google “how many hours a week do entrepreneurs work?” my jaw drops, I shake my head, and I want to send a cozy blanket and a bottle of Goli’s Relax Restore Unwind gummies to every member of eWN, because OMG. You ladies work hard.
Building a business from the ground up requires an astounding amount of patience, perseverance, and strategy. And also hours.
Hours and hours and hours.
The 40-hour work week was popularized by Henry Ford in 1926. Some say that he was among the first to mandate this because the increases in productivity with overtime work were miniscule and temporary at that. Others say that he wanted profits, and for profits he needed people to buy things, and for people to buy things they needed to have days off and be generally well-rested.
But with only 24 hours in a day and big dreams, most entrepreneurs don’t do things the Henry Ford way. They do them the dream big way.
Real Talk: for dreams to become reality, you must refill your cup at some point. That means catch up on sleep, take a breath, live your life, and replenish your creative well. Because whether you’re in a creative field or not, being an entrepreneur will always require creative strategy.
We’ve been taught that 10,000 hours of practice are necessary to become a master in your field. The reality is that too much all at once increases the likelihood you’ll burn yourself out.
In truth, human beings are wired to only have four hours of optimum creative brain power every day. That’s not to say that you must limit yourself to four hours of work- there are plenty of essential tasks that aren’t rooted in creative brain function, but there’s no need to apologize for leaving on time or carving out the hours you need to refill your cup.
In fact, when you look at the most productive countries in the world, they often average a shorter work week. They work smarter, not longer.
With all this talk about time management, where's the much needed talk about energy management?
When you're a self-proclaimed workaholic, where do you even start? For one thing, unplug. It's okay to be unavailable from time to time. Set up that "do not disturb" and give your brain a chance to recharge. The quality of your work will be better when you do. Secondly, stop responding to emails straight away. Not everything is urgent. If you're in the habit of responding to emails as quickly as possible, it will certainly feel weird, but remember, some emails need strategic, thoughtful responses, it's okay to take your time. Quality should come before speed. And while we're at it, let's all agree to stop saying "I apologize for the delayed response" when it's been less than 24 hours. We're all guilty of it, but come on. In addition to having lives outside of work (hopefully), some responses require research and brainstorming. It's not just okay to take that time, it makes you better at what you do.
No more ASAP. Let's establish clear, realistic turnaround times that ensure quality work, and communicate them to your clients. There's very little that can't be solved with clearer communication. And when it comes to working late, I get it, sometimes it's an absolute must. But this should be an exception, not the norm. Making time to live your life means that sometimes you've got to watch that clock.
I could go into a list of things you can do. Yoga, meditation, binge-watching, wine. But I have a sneaking suspicion every entrepreneur reading this knows exactly how to relax. The hard part is giving yourself permission to.
It’s not always easy to enforce those boundaries, whether it be with clients, work partners, or even yourself, but as an entrepreneur, you want to dream big and get big results. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time at eWN, it’s that you ladies show up and you show up BIG. You show up big for each other, you show up big for your clients, and if you want to keep up your momentum and passion, you need to show up big for yourself.
Sometimes that means going to bed and putting your phone on do not disturb. No need to feel bad about it. Your opportunities will still be there when you wake up.