In the chaotic world of entrepreneurship, it is rare that entrepreneurs assess how they work, and how they organize and execute their days. We are often running from fire to fire and don’t think about the ways we can be more efficient, more balanced, more rested and more effective.
If you tell an entrepreneur, “You have to sleep more” they’ll likely scoﬀ. Tell an entrepreneur, “You should turn oﬀ your phone” and they’ll think you have escaped from an insane asylum. For some reason, entrepreneurs embrace the consistent shunning of their own personal well-being and lives. Unfortunately, while this may feel like initiation dues into the club, it ends up making you less efficient and effective.
Entrepreneur Rules To Live By
In a previous post about the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, we pointed out how important it is to have the right management skills and flexibility to succeed in business. However, without following a few basic rules, you may find your entrepreneurial struggle much harder than most.
If anyone tells you there’s a set of entrepreneur rules you must follow in order to succeed, they are simply lying. However, here are simple rules about well-being and time management that have proven to be very effective in my own experience:
You Must Sleep
Sleep is very important! It is impossible to maximize your time, potential and brainpower unless you sleep. I know what you are saying to yourself, “Who has time to sleep?” Not sleeping is the same as not protecting an asset of the company. If your vision was to make widgets, and you had a killer widget machine, wouldn’t you make sure it had fuel and was properly oiled? It is hard to get sleep every day when you are the entrepreneur but you must. Here are a few suggestions.
- Eight hours once per week. One day per week—preferably in the middle of the week—get eight hours of sleep. After the financial crisis of 2008, I was working twenty hours per day, but every Wednesday I went to bed at 10 p.m. and got eight hours. This made a world of difference.
- Take daily naps. Each day close your eyes for thirty minutes. No more than thirty minutes. Any longer and you run the risk of developing “sleep inertia”—that groggy feeling that takes a considerable amount of time to shake oﬀ. Power naps not only alleviate sleep deficits, but they boost our brains, including creative problem solving, verbal memory, and perceptual object and statistical learning. Napping improves our mood and feelings of fatigue, is good for our heart, blood pressure, stress levels, and surprisingly, even weight. Where am I going to nap, you ask? Be creative. Under your desk, in your car, in the park, on your lunch break. One entrepreneur said that he would doze oﬀ in a bathroom stall when the hours got extra-long. You don’t have to go that far, but make a plan for a short break. You’ll feel the improvement in everything you do.
- Hitting the Pillow Means Sleep. When you put your head on the pillow at night, don’t waste time thinking about problems you can’t fix at that moment. When you are lying in bed, there is nothing you can do about your company’s issues. Once you decide to sleep, don’t think about the business. Find your version of counting sheep. I used to let my mind wander to a college baseball game or to a childhood memory. Regardless of your version of the strategy, make the commitment that once you put your head on the pillow, you are not going to waste time on things you can’t impact.
Do the Hardest Task First Thing in Morning
Do the most important or difficult task of the day first thing in the morning, when you are most rested and least distracted. Unfortunately, 90 percent of people check their email as soon as they get to work.
That turns his or her agenda over to someone else. They do it because it’s easy, and feel more effective in a shorter time by answering emails. Focus first on the hardest task of the day.
This will allow you to apply the best version of yourself to the most important jobs. Resist the temptation to do mindless or easy things to gain a brief sense of accomplishment.
Silence Your Technology
When you are working on something, turn oﬀ your email and put your devices across the room with the sound oﬀ. Shifting your attention from one task to another, as we do when we’re monitoring email while also reading a report and answering text messages, disrupts our concentration and snaps our focus.
Each time we return to our initial task, we use up valuable cognitive resources reorienting ourselves. Research shows that when we are deeply engrossed in an activity, even minor distractions can have a profound effect. The trouble, of course, is that multitasking is enjoyable. It’s fun to indulge your curiosity.
Who knows what that next email, tweet or text message holds in store? Finding out provides immediate gratification. In contrast, resisting distraction and staying on-task requires discipline and mental eﬀort. It’s up to you to protect your cognitive resources. The more you do to minimize task-switching over the day, the more mental bandwidth you’ll have for activities that matter.
Entrepreneur Rules and Success
Think of yourself as part of the product or service you are delivering. If your wearable device didn’t transmit the right data, wouldn’t you change the technology? It is no different with you. Especially with the strain you are under and the constant presence of pressure, passion, pleasure and pain, you need to be better, faster and stronger.