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These days, we work more than ever before. How can we not? With smartphones and wifi and connected everything, it’s a blessing and a curse. You can work from anywhere, opening the door to remote access and a life without forced hours or a commute. But because you can work from anywhere, it’s hard to completely shut things off.
As an early-stage CEO, I’m battling this all the time. I have an intense job, but I also have a family and I need a certain amount of “me time” to keep my head on straight. This is a high-wire act, but the following eight tips are key for me to keep everything in balance.
1. Commit to morning exercise.
Weekday mornings, I get up at 5:21 a.m. for a one-hour workout. This may seem early and exhausting, but I find this mentally and physically invigorating. My head is clear after a workout and I’m riding high off endorphins — and my body is in better shape than it was the previous day. It’s the best way for me to start the day.
2. Schedule a coffee break.
At 7 a.m., I have coffee. I love coffee, so there’s sheer enjoyment involved, but it’s also about having a moment to myself. This morning coffee break allows me to center myself and think about how to approach the day’s problems.
3. Prioritize morning family time.
Family time is important. Unfortunately, it often feels fleeting, especially as kids get older and have their own things to run off to. Having a regular designated family time ensures that we can all connect before the day whisks us away, even for a few minutes.
4. Work while commuting.
Technology has afforded us the luxury of turning transit time into productivity. By doing so, we have more flexibility to decide how we want to schedule our lives. I work on my laptop while on the train. Driving has its limitations, but there are still things you can do to maximize time in a car, such as having Siri read your emails or take dictation.
5. Use cloud-based tools.
During the actual work day, there will undoubtedly be pockets where you’re facing dead time. Maybe it’s being on hold on the phone or being stuck in a meeting where you’re not really needed. Whatever the case, cloud-based documents, emails and tools allow you to work anywhere. Ten minutes here or there add up and give you back that time later.
6. Use apps to find your zen.
I can’t stress enough the importance of taking the time to recenter and reset yourself. For me, I find meditation works. For you, that might be a walk outside or an afternoon tea or even a nap. Plenty of apps have hit the market to help us schedule and time these activities. I personally like the Simple Habit app to help me get a five-minute meditation in every day. While you may feel like you’re losing valuable productivity time, we all need to recharge to maintain high levels of efficiency.
7. Guarantee family time.
Whoever you consider family — children, spouse, friends as “found family” — it’s important to give them regular time in your life. As important as we think it is to build our business goals, it means nothing if we sacrifice our personal relationships. These can become quickly overwhelmed by our work responsibilities. I try to make sure I have dinner with my family as much as possible, as well as putting the kids to bed. Everyone will do something different, and it’ll be based on your own unique circumstances. Whatever it is, though, make sure it’s a regular part of your schedule.
8. Plan ahead and shut off.
It’s late and you’re getting tired. Should you push through and keep working? Yes and no. No, in that you should shut your brain down from any active work. Yes, in that you should think ahead to tomorrow’s to-do list. Doing so at this stage accomplishes two things. First, it starts winding down your mind from the activity of the past day. Second, it establishes a roadmap ahead so you can hit the ground running (which you can do using tip No. 2 above). This simple technique simultaneously allows you to ramp down and ramp up, smoothing your transition to tomorrow while giving your mind the rest it needs.
The most important lesson through all of this? You’re not a machine — your mind, body and spirit need breaks. But the pace of business and the expectations of tech culture — particularly in the startup world — often frown upon self-care. Don’t fall into those traps; your wellbeing is of utmost importance, as are your key relationships.
In a way, self-care benefits your productivity. It may feel like you’re accomplishing more when you’re working all the time, but breaks and private moments build your support system and provide valuable new perspectives. It’s hard to accept, but it’s not just OK to not always be working — it’s better for business.
May 28, 2019 at 08:01AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs