How to transition from corporate to start-up without burning out

Joel Svensson

Going from the office to the garage (or co-working space) can be a bit of a shock, especially if you’ve been straddling the corporate ladder for a long time. Suddenly, there are ten thousand decisions to make each day - from how to write your prospectus to how to make your own lattés.

It’s a lifestyle that lends itself easily to exhaustion. So, we’ve put together a helpful transition package to see you through orientation.

#1 Exercise

Stress, exhaustion, psychological distress – exercise has been shown to slay them all. Integrating cardio into your routine is essential if you want to weather the rigours of the start-up lifestyle.

And it doesn’t have to be much. Even daily 30-minute walks have been shown to reduce stress and improve one’s mood.

#2 Watch your back

If most of your work happens sitting down, pay close attention to how you sit. Back pain is at epidemic levels the world over, and as an entrepreneur, the last thing you need is to have to go to meetings with grapefruit-sized knots in your back.

Chronic pain blunts focus and is one of the top causes for people needing a sick day. And especially when you’re just starting out, personal leave is a luxury you can ill afford.

Save yourself some lumbar woes and make sure you’re sitting in as ergonomic a position as possible while working. You may also want to break up your work periods with stretching exercises.

#3 Drink water

For some reason, the one fluid we most need to survive is usually the first to go during stressful periods – and the cost is high. Not giving your body enough water can often result in increased appetite, muscle tension and loss of focus. Do yourself a favour and keep a fresh jug near your workstation.

#4 Give yourself a schedule

One of the downsides of being your own boss is that it’s easier than you might think to fall into the habit of working all the time, especially when there’s no office to clock in and out of.

Getting a business off the ground is tough work, and while you may have to put in some long hours and answer your phone outside of hours some nights, it’s also important to carve out some regular personal time. Winding down after work is an important part of revving up for the next day.

#5 Dress the part

Even if you’re working from home a lot, it can really help to put on some work clothes. This will do more than help switch to “work mode”; getting into the habit of working in your pyjamas can make it more difficult for you to relax during those times when actually should be wearing pyjamas.

It’s a small detail, but blurring the lines between work and important non-work activities (such as sleep) can have adverse effects on both.

#6 Don’t isolate yourself

If you’re used to working in an office, it may come as a shock when, at the end of your first month as an entrepreneur, you realise you haven’t had a casual chat with anyone in weeks.

When you’re setting your own hours, it’s vital for your wellbeing that you also set a social calendar. Socialising will help you relax and process your thoughts.

#7 Get some vitamin S

Silence is golden. In fact, in today’s world of hyper-busyness, it’s never been more valuable. Research shows that taking a few quiet moments each day to practice mindfulness can rebalance your hormones and improve mood and mental performance.

Remember, you’re more than an employee now. You’re the engine that drives your business, and if you want that business to keep ticking over, you need to maintain yourself with a certain amount of devotion.

(Lead image: Annie Spratt / Unsplash)

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