Earlier this summer one of my cousins reached out to ask me for advice on managing her time and mood as an entrepreneur. She wanted to know how I stay level headed, have time to run a business, care for myself, and care for others like my grandma who lives with me.
She told me she didn’t want mumbo jumbo mantras. She wanted to know EXACTLY what I do each and every day.
To make sure I gave her what she wanted she started with this list of questions:
- How you manage your time?
- How do you manage your energy?
- How do you manage your thought process throughout the day?
- How do you deal with all the highs and lows that come with being an entrepreneur?
I decided to write up a list of 21 habits I practice, day in and day out. Note that many of these habits are possible today, after I invested a few years in learning how to really handle the bouts of high anxiety I was experiencing.
As you’re reading through this, much of it might seem like common sense to you, but it might also be the reminder you need to get yourself out of a funk!
Managing Your Energy Daily
1. Always drink water right when you wake up. I drink about 8–12 oz. It actually works miracles on my thought process, and makes my body feel great.
2. Workout regularly. This year I’ve been working out almost everyday. It has actually made me calmer and warded off sicknesses. It helps me sleep soundly, and it’s a great break in my day.
3. Ditch the caffeine. I haven’t had coffee in 5+ years. I do like my morning tea, but it’s more of a ritual to have something warm.
4. Aim to sleep 8 hours every night! Just like water, I make better decisions for my business, and I’m honestly happier when I’ve slept. I’ve also experimented to discover what it’s going to take to sleep 8 hours. For me, it’s no caffeine after 2pm, a regular bedtime/wakeup time, stopping work 2–3 hours before bed, getting exercise regularly, and a winding down ritual like chamomile tea and relaxing reading.
5. Take a timeout during your day, to help clear your mind. This could be exercise, reading, etc. But it’s important to give your brain a rest for creativity.
6. Take longer blocks of time off! I usually don’t work on the weekends any more, and I aim to take 1–2 vacations a year of at least 1–2 weeks. You need the time to recharge. If you don’t you make bad decisions, burn out, and most importantly hate life!
7. Eat healthily and fun. You don’t need to eat a salad for every meal. Think about a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, but that doesn’t mean you cannot indulge from time to time. I love having big meals on the weekends or on a Friday night. I do eat meat, but I limit the amount I eat every week.
8. Limit alcohol. I don’t drink on weekdays. I find that it makes me tired, groggy, and can sometimes exacerbates feelings of depression.
9. Schedule time with a good friend, at least once a month to know that you have support. These are often tea dates, calls, or dinners.
Managing The Challenging Moments
10. Do not make a decision when you’re depressed/angry or even SUPER happy. I defer any decision related to my business or personal life when I’m overly emotional. I opt to be calm and level-headed.
11. To process feedback well, read Thanks for the Feedback. I read it last year, and I can honestly say it changed my life. I recommend it to anyone/everyone who is a leader.
12. Learn to manage uncertainty and think big picture. Details are important, but if you fall prey to every single detail you will burn out.
13. Set expectations and clearly communicate them with everyone. At the beginning of any relationship, I am direct with people and I tell them I am going to be. If they take offense they can come to me. I let them know how often I’ll communicate, what my decision-making style is, and what to watch out for if/when I get angry/disappointed. Basically I don’t want people walking on eggshells. I want them to be able to read me, and to come to me if something goes wrong.
14. Don’t let others drama infect or affect your day. Whether it’s a family member, friend, or some guy on the street, I listen and do my best to help, but I also practice a level of detachment. Otherwise it consumes you.
Finding More Time For Yourself And Others
15. Automate as much as possible and pay for it if need be. Every quarter I look at the menial tasks that take me more than 30 minutes to do. Then I look for apps that can automate it, or get someone else to do it once I have a process. My hourly rate is definitely more than anyone else’s my company and paying $50-$100/month for an app is worth it.
Some of my favorites are:
- Boomerang for email
- Tweepi for social media
- BufferApp for social media
- A lot of people swear by IFTTT, I also like Zapier
16. Hire an assistant to do menial tasks, no matter how awesome you are at them! Dan Martell has some pretty awesome advice on this. It seems to work well for him and his family. He has two boys, and wants to spend at least a 1/4 of his day with them. I’ve been slowly adopting some of his best practices.
Keep in mind it takes time to train an assistant, and if they aren’t working out you can let them go. You also need to communicate your needs clearly. They need time to learn your style and priorities.
The key things to look out for are:
- Are they a quick study?
- Do they anticipate needs?
- Can they do the impossible (aka Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada)?
- When they mess up, do they need you to clean up their mess or do they?
17. Hire/delegate people to do tasks that are not worth your time, but may or may not be menial.
Think through what you absolutely need to do in your organization, lead, speak, sales, etc. to get to the next milestone. Then whatever doesn’t fit that list needs to be delegate.
If you suck at delegating, it means you need to improve your communication, hiring practices, and put that micromanager in check by trusting your employees, and being OK with some level of mistakes. Small mistakes that aren’t going to cripple the company are fine. But you also don’t want to have death by a 1000 paper cuts, so improve on how you provide candid feedback. I recommend checking out Radical Candor.
You also want to do a fair amount of diligence when hiring people. Take the time to ask them the probing questions, and do the same with their referrals. I have all referrals walk me through exactly what someone did for them, if they were choosing between them and another candidate, and the results produced.
I often ask service providers how many clients aside from me they have, how often I can expect to hear from them, when they intend to go on vacation, what they need from me regularly, and I watch for how well they accept feedback.
18. If you have a significant other, spend time with them at least once a week. Date night is important. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but something for a few hours where it’s just the two of you. Keep it fun, and don’t reschedule! Remember this is the person who is supposed to be there for you in both good and bad times. In order to draw that support when you need it, you have to invest into it consistently.
I know some people opt to take fancy vacations, but I find keeping is simple and consistent is the best way to stay connected. Honestly, it’s also easier and less stressful than planning a vacation.
19. Schedule 1–1s with your direct reports weekly. They need your ear, and it should be consistent. This should be time they can talk, not you directing them. This leads to trust and less turnover. Plus it gets them to work harder for you when things get tough. Even 30 minutes once a week can work wonders for your relationship.
Two Things You Need To Do More Often
20. Learn to say NO to what isn’t a priority. Time is the MOST valuable resource you have. It doesn’t mean you have to be curt with people. It just means you need to learn to prioritize, and maybe put things on the back burner periodically, then revisit them when you have more time. Trying to do too many things will leave you feeling like you’ve done nothing.
21. Take the time to acknowledge your accomplishments. Here’s my post on what happens when you don’t.
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