Growing a business is much like being an Olympic athlete. You’re in training, every day, with hour allocated for, and little energy or bandwidth leftover. Your business is your job, your baby, your hobby.
The startup lifestyle, exalted in every shared post and Retweet, has become a philosophy. Sort of like the new Paleo movement, except even more monastic.
It’s easy to get sucked in and convinced that sheer dogged determination is all you need to succeed. But the human body and spirit just isn’t built to operate in overdrive all the time. Soon the reward for all your Herculean efforts will be diminishing returns.
To truly prioritize your business, step away from it. Follow the example of some super high achievers and make sure, every day, you:
• Exercise. Yes, I know you know. But if you’re not doing it, start now. Regular exercise boosts your cognitive abilities, your mood and general mental health. Read about this CEO who prioritizes exercising even over his business: “If exercise stops, then my health goes downhill. With the loss of physical health my productivity at work goes down. … I’ve learned firsthand that excellence in one area of my life promotes excellence in all other areas of my life.”
• Meditate. It’s been proven to improve attention and concentration. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, who has made it a practice for more than 10 years, says he enjoys the “clear head” and stress relief that meditation provides. Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington are also daily practitioners. If the concept of meditating sound intimidating or even flaky, call it praying, or breathing. Just give it a shot for 10 minutes each morning for a week and watch the clouds in your mind clear away.
• Get up early. Maybe it’s more correlation than causation, but the most successful entrepreneurs are also those who are morning people. Howard Schultz, the CEO Starbucks, gets up at 4:30. Square and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey gets up at 5:30 to meditate and then go for a run. Apple’s Tim Cook is in the gym by 5 a.m. Think of the uninterrupted silence and how productive you’d be if you got a jump on your day before your day has a chance to swallow you whole. Start slowly, getting up 15 minutes earlier each day to ensure your new habit takes hold.
• Turn off the TV. And Facebook and Instagram and whatever else is draining away your precious time. Or, better yet, use a tool like Toggl or Hours for a week to track how much of your life you’re giving away to these time vampires. You’ll be so disgusted you’ll happily go on a social media fast. Studies show spending tons of time online can actively harm relationships, interpersonal communication skills and mental health.
• Disconnect completely. Set aside some sacred time to be electronics-free. Maybe every Sunday or one family evening a week, or a weeklong vacation. Multitasking is rarely productive. It’s usually just another form of procrastination and inhibits the formation of short-term memories.
• Spend time outdoors. Feeling down? Sleeping poorly? Inhaling lots of toxic pollutants? Bad eyesight? Osteoporosis? Cancer? Alzheimers disease? The best prevention for all of these maladies can be found outside.
• Drink hot water with lemon. It totally sounds like grandmotherly advice, but lemon water helps you detox, absorb more nutrients and even boosts weight loss.
• Give thanks. An attitude of gratitude is scientifically proven to improve both physical and psychological health, boost self-esteem, promote better sleep, and increase mental stamina, a must for every entrepreneur faced with challenges both big and small.