By listening to and working with entrepreneurs for many years, I have come to see a pattern that emerges and often leads to a feeling of being stuck in the following cycle:
- Entrepreneurs work long hours
- Entrepreneurs work at an intense pace
- Entrepreneurs work on fragmented and varied tasks
- Entrepreneurs work with multiple communication tools and media, leading to distraction and a loss of direction.
As a person who seeks to simplify things, I reached out to Jessica Schmidt, CEO and founder of Executive Sutra, to ask her how to best break down the elements of this old cycle, and create a different kind of rhythm:
Entrepreneurs work long hours
Quit sacrificing your health and the long term viability of your endeavor for short term goals. A project half-finished is basically a project that never started. Completions are important, and one of the best ways to ensure your business gets off of the ground, and keeps flying, is to keep disciplined daily habits. As entrepreneurs, we let go of key activities such as exercise, meditation and even healthy eating, which may seem non-essential at the time. Yet, these key activities enable us to be at our best, seek new opportunities and face challenges with energy. When we stop creating space for reflection and health, our business and our being suffer.
Entrepreneurs work at an intense pace
Breaks lead to breakthroughs, as explained by Mark Sephton, an author and coach in the UK, on a recent Executive Sutra webinar. I’ve noticed when I take what seems like a luxurious 10 minute break to stretch and get water or reprioritize my day, the work thereafter is clear and more effective. Similar to building muscle, which occurs in the repair phase after a workout, we need the rest period to integrate new thoughts and get stronger. A simple tip is to schedule 45 minute meetings instead of an hour. This way you have time between appointments to reflect, strategize, follow-up and prepare (mentally and emotionally) for the next meeting.
Entrepreneurs work on fragmented and varied tasks
The ability to focus and see a task to completion is essential. While we can feel high on the variety of activities associated with being an entrepreneur, days quickly get eaten up without focus. I recommend setting an ideal calendar, which schedules out blocks of time to work on related tasks. Perhaps you don’t check email until later, as you want the morning time (when you’re at your best) to work on big strategic projects which require more brain power.
There are also simple yoga exercises such as balancing poses, which focus the mind, and breathing techniques to increase your stamina. You can find 25 of these powerful tools in my book The Energized Executive: How To Get Focused, Calm, and Strong.
Entrepreneurs work with multiple communication tools and media, leading to distraction and a loss of direction.
In my mind it’s important to know how to leverage these tools. There’s an app called Rescue Time which tracks the minutes you spend on each app. Great to use if you find yourself constantly on LinkedIn, Facebook or more. Per the note about creating the ideal calendar above, give yourself 30 minutes in the afternoon or evening for social media, then forget it until the next day. Turn off notifications. Find 2 hour chunks of time to silence or turn off your phone. Most people can wait 2 to 24 hours to hear back from you.
What can entrepreneurs do to differently break this old cycle and create a new cycle of flow?
My key tips to create a new cycle of flow:
- Meditate 10 to 20 minutes every day first thing in the morning.
- Watch your breath throughout the day. This is your fuel and the most important resource to energize (inhale) or to calm (exhale).
- Leverage an ideal calendar and to-do list with a definitive focus on the hard/important vs. easy/urgent tasks.
- Find time to play each day – 10 minutes to follow a passion. Could be working out, taking a walk, painting.
Stress is just energy that’s misdirected. Stress can be harnessed to advance your business and your own personal growth when we can align our body, mind, and spirit. For more ideas and tools from Jessica, visit ExecutiveSutra.com.
Ultimately if you don't take care of your circumstances, your circumstances may just take care of you!
Jamie is the founder of Life Work Integration, a process that integrates passion with purpose and vision. You can reach him at email@example.com & via twitter @jdouraghy