It's funny, really. Most of us who get into entrepreneurship start with the intention of working LESS than we did at our regular jobs. The startling reality is that we often end up doing way more because we love the projects we're involved with. And because oftentimes, that's what it takes to make things happen.
Still, the long hours can take their toll — and even the Elon Musks of the world are no exception.
To keep yourself productive, it's essential that you build build habits to help you organize your day and get the most out of your time.
Here are three of the most powerful.
1. Become an early riser by going to bed early.
There was probably a period of time in your life where it was easy stay up late into the night (or early into the next morning) trying to get things done.
For me, however, that period was over a long time ago. Recently, I’ve come to realize that all eight-hour periods just aren’t created equally.
Going to bed at 10 pm and waking up around 6 am is EXPONENTIALLY better than going to bed at 3 am and waking up around 11 am, even though number of hours you sleep is the same. I’ve tested this over and over again, and the evidence is pretty clear: I don’t perform well if I stay up past 11 pm-ish.
Early risers really do have a distinct advantage when it comes to mental clarity, acuity and energy.
Simply put: waking up early works better than any other strategy for becoming more productive. But you have to make sure you get enough sleep to back it up. So get to bed!
I’ve had to give myself a bedtime and be my own parent by ruthlessly enforcing it. It was harder than it sounds, because I’ve been programmed to stay up late for so many years.
2. Start every day with an intention, focus or meditation.
Starting your day with a clear idea of what you want to do changes EVERYTHING.
Have you ever had a day where as soon as you woke up, there were already missed calls, text messages and emails screaming for your attention? You felt like you were struggling to stay afloat before breakfast. Oh, that sounds like every day, you say? That needs so stop.
If you like, you can meditate. You know, cross-legged, a candle, with some nice music playing in your ridiculously expensive Beats headphones. But if that's too much, you can just "take 10."
Take 10 slow breaths, think about your main objectives for the day, then get moving. This seems too simple to have an effect, but it’s not. If you’re used to getting up already in battle mode, then you’ve probably forgotten how it feels to have a moment to yourself.
Take a few of those minutes back to refocus yourself. It really helps. You can also use that time to create a better to-do list.
Related: 10 Simple Things Productive People Do Better (And So Can You)
3. Physical activity. Do it.
Working out is probably the highest-leverage tool in your arsenal. It predictably and reliable makes you feel better and keeps you both physically and emotionally healthy, year round.
To have the mental energy to take on the full calendar of to-do’s that people want from you, you have to be in the gym.
Training yourself physically not only gives you benchmarks to hit on a regular basis, but it also creates a predictable backbone in your daily life that you can count on, even if everything goes wrong. Mentally, that’s very comforting.
Trust me, I know that integrating these habits into your life won't be easy at first. But if you're not healthy, your business can't thrive anyway. Consider them a long-term investment in your business.