We are the change

Calling all introverts – Here are 5 great tips for protecting your energy!

When I was in a full-time job I spent most of the time feeling exhausted.

Being based in an open plan office with a jam-packed diary ensured that I spent little time alone. Instead I often found myself surrounded by noise, chatter and around 50 telephones that were never quiet for long.

For an introvert who needs regular solitude it was completely and utterly draining. With no time alone or space to breathe, day by day, bit by bit, I felt every bit of energy pour out of my body till I had little left to give to the world or the people I loved.

And I knew I had to escape. I knew that for my own health, well-being, creativity and relationships, I HAD to get out. And so I did. I started a business. A business that would allow me to work from home and find as much alone time as I so wished. It was complete bliss!

BUT, soon enough I realized something – it’s not always that easy.

Yes, I was able to work from home. But what about all those hats I had to wear? You know…the marketing hat, the systems hat, the customer service hat….

And what about all the things I had to learn?

And all the people I needed to connect with?

And all the events that I couldn’t possibly miss out on?

There was just SO much that needed my attention. And once again, I felt the familiar sense of tiredness and exhaustion creeping back into my life.

And THAT is the moment I realized things really needed to change. I needed to slow down. I needed to start looking after myself. And I needed to start protecting my precious energy.

When you first get started running a business it can be so incredibly tempting to say ‘yes’ to everything. And I get that – it’s totally where I was. I didn’t want to miss out and I didn’t want to lose work, so I simply did everything.

But the consequence of saying ‘yes’ to it all?

You can soon find yourself attending tons of meetings and networking events, working late into the night to get projects done, and generally juggling a million things in the air at all times.

Exhausting, right?

It amazes me how much effort so many of us put into looking after our customers, but when it comes to our own health and well-being? Often that can get neglected.

So here are some home truths

YOU are the most important tool in your business.

If you don’t protect and maintain your energy levels then your ideas, creativity and motivation will soon suffer. And without those? Well, your business is worth nothing.

So, let’s start today.

I’ve learnt that by giving yourself a little bit of TLC and setting yourself some boundaries, you’ll be able to run a successful and thriving business without feeling exhausted and drained all the time.

So, here are my top tips for embracing your introversion and protecting your energy while running a business.

1) Keep certain times work-free

Running a business can be all-consuming if you let it and it’s so easy to get sucked into the ‘I’ll just do a bit of work at the weekend’ mentality (only to find that Monday comes around and you’ve spent pretty much the entire weekend working).

It doesn’t matter how much you love your work or how much you want your business to succeed – you’ve got to give yourself regular breaks or else you’ll soon find yourself running on empty. Set yourself some rules of when you’ll have time off to do other things. For me, keeping the weekends free has become part of my routine. If I’m feeling particularly overloaded with work I may do a few hours on a Saturday, but Sunday is strictly no-go for work. Think about what your own personal boundaries will be and then get into the habit of taking breaks.

2) Book in some time for solitude

It can sometimes feel strange to think that you need to actually book in time to be alone, but if you’re an introvert who needs regular quiet time, that’s exactly what you need to do. This is particularly important if you know you have a hectic couple of weeks coming up. Schedule in some down-time both before and after that busy period so that you can use that time to reflect, re-energise and process your thoughts.

3) Put a limit on meetings

Get to know what your natural capacity is for meetings and networking events, then set yourself a limit for how many you attend a month. Spending all your time bouncing from one meeting to another without any time in between to reflect and re-energise can soon become exhausting – learn what works for you and then stick with it.

4) Make the most of your energy patterns

Are you a morning lark or a night owl? Learning when your energy peaks occur throughout the day means that you can effectively use those times for the tasks that need your most active brain cells. Often we have ups and downs throughout the day, depending on what our natural patterns are. There are always going to be factors that affect your energy such as exercise, lack of sleep or nutrition – however recognizing when you have your natural energy highs, will allow you to make the most of those times and work productively.

5) Step away from the computer

A change of scene can do wonders even if only for 10 minutes. If you feel a bit like you’re ‘walking through treacle’ then stop doing what you’re doing and try something else. Getting out for a walk in the fresh air is my go-to activity when I feel stuck or tired. Just getting away from the computer can be enough but teaming that up with some fresh air and exercise, always tops up my energy levels and gives me a well needed boost to keep me going.

Are you an introvert? What tips do you have for protecting your energy? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Valerie says

    Thanks, Kathryn. Great blog and one that I relate to as an introvert running my own business. I totally agree that you have to make space to look after yourself, something that I neglected in the early days but now I’m very strict about how I use my time. You need to protect your own energy.

    1. Kathryn Hall says

      Yes, it’s so easy to forget isn’t it! Thanks for your comments Valerie.

  2. Nina says

    Nice article Kathryn 🙂

    I find one of the great benefits of being self-employed is being able to choose when you work and how much time you spend with other people.

    1. Kathryn Hall says

      Thanks Nina, yes having the freedom is choose I think is my all time top reason for running a business 🙂

  3. sharon jackson says

    Being a freelancer is ideal for me as an introvert. Networking can be traumatic sometimes but I’ve learned how to deal with it, nobody ever considers me an introvert strangely enough.

    1. Kathryn Hall says

      Hi Sharon, yes networking can be very draining if you’re more on the introverted side of the scale. Interesting that people don’t always realise you’re introverted – I’ve found that’s often the case with a lot of people! Partly though I think it’s down to a misunderstanding of what introversion actually is eg a need for quiet time to re-energise as opposed to shyness.

      If you’re interested, a while back I wrote another article for Women Unlimited on the topic of networking. You can find it here…http://womenunlimitedworldwide.com/how-to-make-business-connections-as-an-introvert/

      Thanks for your comments!

  4. Antoinette says

    Sometimes it takes a pride to take off on the computer!

  5. Deborah says

    Really useful tips Kathryn – even for the extroverts amongst us – so thanks for those. …and a tip in reverse for extroverts working on their own – If I’m flagging, I find it boosts my creative energy sometimes to take my laptop to a coffee shop, or other public space with people who work like me, where I can absorb the energy in the room. I’m sure the buzz isn’t just from the coffee…

    1. Kathryn Hall says

      Thanks Deborah! I think a change of scene is always great for creativity whoever you are – it’s just a case of finding a scene that suits you 🙂

  6. Carolina says

    This sentence change me a bit – “I needed to start looking after myself” – yes I really have to look after myself. Work, duties, obligations all are just seem to much, I don’t even have the opportunity to get out for some clean air and really enjoy myself. Reading this today just made me leave the office, go to the nearby park here in Chicago, and enjoy myself with a big ice-cream! Felt like a teenager, even if I am 40! Thank you Kathryn for this great tip!

    1. Kathryn Hall says

      Thanks for your comments Carolina – I think there’s always room for ice-cream! So pleased my post helped to inspire you 🙂