By Morgen Henderson
There are many challenges to launching a startup business. That’s why it takes a huge investment in time. But devoting too much time to your business can actually cause it to fail. To run a successful startup, you need to be productive, creative and physically healthy. Being a workaholic disrupts these entrepreneurial qualities, putting you and your company at risk.
Working too much, especially in the beginning stages of a new business, can create stress and tension between you and your team. You need time away to de-stress, recharge, and regain focus and energy. Not only will this help you to relax, but according to many top-level executives, it can make you and your team more productive. Here’s how too much work can ruin your startup’s chances for success.
You get more done by doing less. Taking short, consistent breaks throughout the day makes you more productive than working straight through. Research in workplace productivity found workers who take 15 minute breaks each hour return to their work more energized and able to produce more.
The same take-a-breather principle applies to the entire year as well. American workers take fewer vacation days than any other country in the world, yet they aren’t any more productive than Europeans who take more. There’s only so much time you can put in at the office before you hit a point of diminishing returns.
Startups require you to find creative ways to solve problems. But stress and long hours drain your creativity. Our culture praises dedication and perseverance, but those qualities can run contrary to how humans actually solve problems.
Prolonged focus and hyper attention to a single task are counter to our natural creative process, which requires rest, variety, and a change of scenery. Cognitive scientists know that people find more creative solutions when they take breaks or switch between problems rather than stay laser-focused.
As your company’s leader, you have the critical role of the strategist — the one evaluating the long-term effects of your business decisions. But too much work often leads to narrower, more myopic views of what’s happening. You can’t focus on increasing second-quarter sales if you’re bogged down with project management issues. Hyper-attentiveness makes it harder to see the bigger picture for your startup.
Delegate those tasks to others and take breaks to, if not detach, at least take a bigger view of things. Micromanagement tendencies easily infect your leadership style when you work too much.
If your 80-hour work week is leaving you feeling anxious or depressed, there’s a reason. Working too much redlines your stress levels, affecting your mental health. Workaholics are much more likely to show signs of anxiety and depression disorders than non-workaholics.
Bouts of depression can drain you of all motivation for even the smallest tasks and anxiety can distract you from important details. Find time to calm your mind with mindfulness meditation or other ways to relax at work or at home.
Stress wears down your immune system too, forcing you to take more sick days. While your white-knuckled determination might have you working with a 102-degree temperature, your body will eventually say enough’s enough. The decision to take a sick day won’t be yours anymore.
Because they’re almost always unplanned, sick days send a wave of disorganization throughout your entire company. There are tasks that only you can do, information only you can access. When you’re out sick, it may force you to put big responsibilities into untested hands. Your employees will scramble to restructure duties while you’re out.
Find ways to manage your stress to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy. Drink fresh vegetable juices or take a morning stroll to calm your mind. Don’t be afraid to occasionally arrive at work late.
If your nose is constantly to the grindstone, your employees will follow suit. That’s a good thing when you set expectations for professionalism, thoroughness, and dedication. But all of these negative workaholic effects will befall your team too — less productivity, waning creativity, more sick days. Set a good example for your team members, or your workaholic habits will spread like the plague.
Being a workaholic has dangerous implications for your startup. But the good news is there are plenty of resources available. There’s a reason why flight attendants instruct you to “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” You have to take care of you before you can take care of your business.
Morgen Henderson grew up in West Jordan, Utah. She has experience in the family entertainment industry where her love of business and technology began to sprout. She spent a year and a half doing humanitarian work in the Dominican Republic, and enjoys helping others. She also loves to travel, bake, and learn about topics relating to technology and business. Twitter: @mo_hendi