There are only 24 hours in a day so something in your schedule usually has to give in order to find the time to start your own business. When my wife and I first started our online business, both of us had full time jobs which left only about 3 hours of free time on weekdays and 2 full days on the weekends.
As a result, we had to make some sacrifices in order make time for the business. To make matters even worse, my wife was pregnant so there were always certain days when she simply didn’t feel up to working on anything.
Our schedules always seemed packed so we had to cut out several things that we both enjoyed doing. In retrospect, making the following changes to our lifestyle proved to be blessings in disguise.
We Reduced Our Television Consumption
This might not sound like a big deal to most people, but prior to the business, television made up a huge part of our leisure activities. My wife was so into her television that prior to Tivo, she would map out all of the tv shows that she wanted to watch on Microsoft Excel so she wouldn’t miss a single program.
Pretty hard core eh? Feel free to make fun of her all that you want. Basically, the two of us would come home from work, have dinner and then plop ourselves on the sofa from 8-11pm on most weeknights. Then we would go to bed and repeat the same schedule the following day.
In retrospect, we really enjoyed our nice relaxing evenings in front of the television. But what did we have to show for it? Did watching tv improve our lives in any way?
Once we decided to start a business, we spent most nights brainstorming and taking action implementing our ideas. It was a long process but we went to bed feeling fulfilled every night. With the business taking center stage, we no longer had the time to watch much television. Although we have more time now that the business is more established, we still don’t watch that much tv and we don’t feel the need to either.
We Started Waking Up Early Even On Weekends
My wife and I used to look forward to the weekends so we could sleep in until noon. By the time we woke up, half of the day was gone. Did we really need that much sleep? Ironically, when my wife and I slept this long, we felt even more groggy and lethargic than if we had gotten up early. In many cases, sleeping late meant lounging around and doing nothing for the rest of the day. Fortunately, our business changed our sleeping habits.
The best time of day to take product photos for our online store was in the morning and that forced us to wake up early so that we could take advantage of the entire morning for our photo shoots. It was painful at first but gradually we got used to waking up early every single morning even on weekends.
The strange thing is that it now feels really good to be up early and I can’t even imagine sleeping in late anymore now. For one thing, waking up early grants you several extra hours to accomplish something useful. Second of all, the air is crisp and your mind is the freshest in the morning. I’ve found that I’m at peak productivity at around 6:30am. It is nice and quiet and there’s no one awake to disturb you (except for maybe a crying baby).
It kind of makes me wonder how much time I’ve wasted in my life sleeping in late. To think back at how much I could have accomplished with a few extra hours each day makes me mad at myself for being so lazy in the past. Do any entrepreneurs sleep in late? It makes me wonder.
We Kept A Schedule
In the old days BTB (before the business), my wife and I never used to plan anything. We’d keep our days open and unconstrained so that we could do whatever we wanted to at the slightest whim. At first we tried adopting a “we’ll work on the business whenever we feel like it” attitude but guess what? We kept procrastinating and putting things off. After a while, it was clear that this sort of loosey goosey scheduling wasn’t going to cut it if we wanted to get anywhere with our business.
When you don’t pencil in anything in your schedule, it’s a forgone conclusion that nothing is going to get done. Our business forced us to plan and adopt a more rigid scheduling policy. For example, we made Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday our work days and we took Friday, Saturday and Monday off. Every week, we set aside a specific time on those days with which to work on our business. After a while, these work hours became so ingrained in our minds that it made working on the business effortless. In fact, our schedule turned our business activities into more of a lifestyle rather than a chore.
That is why I’m a firm believer in having a regular schedule. Once you train your body to expect a certain activity regularly, it becomes part of your way of life.
I Became More Organized
One of the negative aspects of running a business is that keeping track of sales and receipts can be a major pain. I never used to be that organized so all of the extra bookkeeping involved with running a business became a thorn in my side.
You might have noticed that I used the word “I” instead of “we” for this particular topic. Fortunately, my wife is extremely put together and she’s managed to convert me over to being a bit more anal about keeping things in order. Sure, it takes a lot of extra energy to maintain organization, but I think that devoting this extra energy is a necessary sacrifice that every entrepreneur must make.
For all of the entrepreneurs out there, are you early risers? What are some of the sacrifices that you have made for your businesses?
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