Analysis Opinions Updates

Dynamic flexibility is the future of work

Slush Singapore’s Anna Ratala says self-care is an essential part of business success.

If you don’t take care of yourself, success can be very short-sighted. A lot of entrepreneurs think that they can’t afford to take a day or evening off, that it will show they’re weak and they’re not up to the task. I speak to a lot of entrepreneurs who say things like: “I have not had a holiday in the past two or three years, I’ve just been working so hard”. This is very concerning. We all need rest to keep our batteries charged and our creative juices flowing. Maintaining your own sense of balance is key.

Today, it’s very cool to be an ‘entrepreneur’ — it’s all about the hustle, and there’s a sense of glamour around a ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle. Unfortunately, the reality of starting your own business is not often talked about — it can be highly stressful and very demanding. Along with securing funding and attracting the right people, self-care is essential to success as an entrepreneur. 

Allow yourself a day off every once in a while. Maybe it’s a Saturday; maybe it’s a Wednesday. Maybe it’s just an evening out with your family and friends, or going on a short trip. I’m a huge fan of something called ‘dynamic flexibility’, which means that you work when you need to work, but you take time off when you need to.

For example, once a month, I take a weekend getaway. It doesn’t mean that I’m not going to open my laptop at all. I might work on my flight there, I might work for a couple of hours at my hotel, but I also take time to relax, do some yoga, or just spend time with my family.

Some of the best decisions and ideas that I’ve come up with as an entrepreneur have been when I’m away from the usual business environment and buzz. So when I get back to the office, I am mentally present and fully recharged — I’m able to be there for my team.

As a young businesswoman, I want to re-define what success looks like. I want to show that successful business leaders are those who take care of themselves and their teams, rather than those that kill themselves with work. I believe success is an attitude. It’s all in your head.

As entrepreneurs and young leaders, we need to highlight the importance of mental health by leading by example — if we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves, how do we expect our teams to do so? I think it’s really important that everyone who is in a position to inspire others is talking about this. We can all play a part and I think it is very important that we all do.

Anna Ratala is the Head of Slush Singapore, a leading tech start-up event and global movement, where she channels her passion for start-ups into helping the next generation of entrepreneurs.