Being a founder can feel like a 24/7 operation. And when we look at the failure rate of new businesses, it makes sense why. 20% of new businesses don’t make it past their second birthday, and 45% of businesses shutter their doors after just five years. In order for a business to not only survive, but thrive, founders have to be laser-focused, high energy, and relentless, pretty much all the time.
For founders to do that successfully (without crashing and burning), they need to know how to compartmentalize their work, lives, and emotions.
Compartmentalization of this nature is like a founder’s secret weapon. That’s because the truth of the matter is that no matter how rewarding being a founder and entrepreneur is, the stress, responsibilities, and workloads can be unforgivable. And business leaders everywhere are feeling the impacts: 92% of small business owners say they’ve had mental health problems in the past two years, and 45% of entrepreneurs report feeling stressed.
Being a founder can come with limitless rewards. But it can also come with its downsides. And one of them is that it’s all-too-easy for all of the parts of your life to bleed into one another.
How can you separate your business, employee, and client needs from your personal life, and ensure you’re able to nurture your own happiness and wellbeing?
By understanding how to compartmentalize.
When All Hell Breaks Loose, Compartmentalize
What exactly does it mean to compartmentalize, and how is it relevant for founders? While compartmentalization is a word that gets thrown around fairly often, it’s actually a psychological term, and it refers to when “people mentally separate conflicting thoughts, emotions, or experiences.”
In the classic psychological sense, compartmentalization can sometimes be a “defense mechanism” which helps us protect ourselves from things like anxiety.
Subconscious compartmentalization might not be a great thing. But for founders who are being pulled in 20 places at once, all the time, learning how to purposely compartmentalize can be a huge asset.
Conscious and methodical use of compartmentalization can help you separate client needs and employee demands from your personal life.
When founders compartmentalize, good things can happen. Here are some of the potential benefits of proper compartmentalization:
- Reduce stress and burnout: When every part of your life as a founder is blurring together and there’s no separation between your work and personal life, stress and burnout is likely not too far off. One study found that the most passionate entrepreneurs (ones that feel like they “can’t live without their work”) are the ones who have the highest levels of burnout. When you compartmentalize as a founder, you’re able to focus on what you love, while still keeping your head clear and your spirits high.
- Increase productivity and focus: Sure, the world of entrepreneurship is rampant with tips for boosting productivity and focus. Experts say in order to be more productive at work, you should fill tiny windows of time with tasks, take regular breaks, and prioritize tasks. But instead of figuring out the latest and greatest method for productivity and focus, you can simply turn to compartmentalization, which supports and inspires behaviors which help you work better.
- Boost work-life balance: For founders and entrepreneurs, the term “work-life balance” might not really be in the vernacular. But a proper and healthy work-life balance doesn’t have to be a myth. By compartmentalizing your work needs and responsibilities, and keeping them well away from your personal life and happiness, you can be the powerhouse helm of a business, and get to genuinely enjoy your downtime.
How Founders Can (Actually) Compartmentalize
Living the sweet life as a founder/entrepreneur involves learning how to compartmentalize different tasks, obligations, and aspects of your life. Here are some practical methods you can turn to for successfully compartmentalizing your life.
- Set boundaries between your work and personal life: It might seem like the most obvious place to start, but this is probably one of the most crucial aspects of compartmentalization as a founder. Instead of working around the clock and always being “on,” look for concrete ways to separate your work and your personal life. You can try:
- Setting time for yourself in the morning before you start your workday, and coming up with a morning routine that you actually enjoy.
- Looking for opportunities to take a break during the day. For example, go on a 20-minute walk in the park instead of working through lunch at your computer.
- Aiming to enjoy your time off the clock as much as possible. While some emergencies might warrant an immediate response, most after-hours messages can wait until the morning.
- Freeing yourself from your tech. If your Apple Watch is always going off when you’re unwinding with your loved ones on the couch in front of the TV, maybe it’s best to set it aside for the night.
- Segment your work: When understanding how to compartmentalize as a founder, we’re not just talking about separating work and personal life. You can dig even deeper, and look to further segment aspects of things. Starting with your roles and responsibilities as a founder, you should seek to separate aspects of your job which can sometimes seem like one big blur. For example, don’t let one demanding client color the way you feel about your other clients, or one instance of churn impact your overall morale. Look for ways to separate your clients, employees, and overall business, particularly during tougher times.
- Work more effectively: There are ways you can help yourself out as a founder, and ways you can accidentally make your life more difficult. For example, why hand scribble notes which easily get lost, when you could input the data into a digital organization system? Ensure you’re following a few key pillars of effective work, and utilize:
- Time management tools, such as calendars, lists, timers, and alerts.
- Communication tools, such as filters, “do not disturb” settings, and auto-responses, to optimize the way you spend energy communicating.
- Delegation practices. If you’re taking on too much responsibility, you’re bound to be spread thin. Trust your team, and delegate tasks and responsibilities to people who you know are capable.
- Outsourcing, and turning to trusted vendors. As a founder, it can often feel like you need to be an expert in just about everything. But when you use outsourced experts for certain functions, it can not only lighten your own load: it can improve the quality of certain aspects of your business. For example, here at RevenueZen, founders and entrepreneurs in B2B businesses partner with us to provide specialized and individualized marketing solutions in order to boost ROI, support long term revenue growth, execute top-tier SEO strategies, increase their organic traffic, and win large client deals.
- Prioritize your mental and physical wellbeing: When you’re taking good care of your mental and physical health, you’ll be far better poised to approach the rest of your responsibilities in the healthiest way possible. For example, you can consider:
- Adopting mindfulness techniques, which studies show can help people manage stress, anxiety, and depression. These techniques can also help with physical pain reduction, and are also effective at helping you kick drinking or smoking habits.
- Finding exercise habits you thoroughly enjoy. Whether it’s walking around the neighborhood, rock climbing, or simply dancing around your living room, movement isn’t just great for your body. It’s also great for your mind, and yes, your work. Studies show that exercise can boost things like your time management skills, for example.
- Eating and sleeping properly. While everyone needs a different amount of sleep in a night, if you’re constantly exhausted, your ability to compartmentalize is going to suffer. Nourish your body and give it rest, to the best of your ability, to really excel at compartmentalizing.
While compartmentalizing applies to all aspects of our lives, it’s a particularly useful skill for founders and CEOs to master
Compartmentalizing can be useful just about anywhere you apply it, whether it’s in your personal life or work life. But for founders, entrepreneurs, and CEOs, learning how to compartmentalize can lead to some pretty substantial changes.
When you effectively compartmentalize different aspects of your work, and your work from your personal life, you’re far more likely to be a better leader, and provide the best services possible for your clients, than if everything is muddled together and you’re running on fumes.
And when you’re ready to ensure experts are heading up your efforts to accelerate your organic growth, we’ve got you covered. We’re RevenueZen, and we help ambitious B2B brands break their previous record of organic-sourced revenue growth, by providing them with perfectly crafted services.