Editor-in-chief of Hello Open World
When you run a business, you need to lead a healthy, relaxed life. You cannot afford to waste your energy stressing out.
When I started my company — The Blue House, a startup getaway in Morocco — while still working as a tech journalist, I realized I had to make some changes. I had more on my plate than ever and I couldn’t add hours to my days.
Now, I run a house with two employees, deal with Moroccan accountants, bankers, landlords, and contractors in an unfamiliar culture; all that while hosting coworkers and startups, building a community, looking for new clients, working on SEO and PR, and yet I feel more relaxed than back when I was working 40hrs for a French startup.
If a stressed-out whiny Parisian like me can chill out and become more efficient and relaxed, anyone can.
I read a lot of articles about how meditation is good for you, how the great leaders wake up at 4am and do introspection before sleeping, how daily exercise helps taking the steam off, how people should take the entire weekend off. I couldn’t do that. I changed little things, and it changed a lot.
The first 30 minutes of your day set the mood for the rest of the day. If you want to spend a day filled with positive energies, invest in your morning.
Waking up at 6am wasn’t an option for me, but waking up half an hour before my normal time was.
I take 10 minutes after I wake up to gradually come to life, I breath out, breath in in my bed, stretch my body, and then once my feet hit the floor, I do a seven-minute workout thanks to an app that nags me when I don’t reach my goal.
Only after that routine do I feel awake and ready to face my team and our guests — yes, that’s how it feels for me to interact with people in the morning. And cherry on the cake, I feel proud that I’ve already achieved so much so early on.
If you want to stay productive from 9 to 9, you have to pace yourself.
This also gives me a good reason to hydrate myself, walk around the house, move my legs and let my blood circulation run.
I also learned to stop feeling guilty about not being productive. When I feel like I can’t work anymore — usually around three or four — I take a break.
Fancy people writing articles usually say you should go for walk or exercise. I’m not there yet. I usually use those breaks to watch TV shows. Granted, I’m still watching a screen but my brain takes a break and I feel happier afterward, so I’d say it’s already a step in the right direction, right?
When too much happens at once, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and freeze.
Protecting yourself from the constant influx of information and taking one thing at a time helps.
I created clear time slots during which I focus on one task only. My phone goes on sleep mode, I don’t check my emails, and I warn my team that they should handle things themselves during that time.
I turned off most app notifications on my phone and forced myself to stop checking my phone constantly.
I still spend a lot of time on Facebook and Instagram, and reply to all the messages I receive, but I do it all at once, a few times a day, and it doesn’t steal my attention from other things.
It takes time to get used to not checking your phone all the time, and to focus on one task only. But it’s also very fulfilling and relaxing.
Reading an email and putting it aside is the best way to be overwhelmed.
Every few hours, you’ll remember that you need to answer that email, feeling like your to-do list is unbearably long. You’ll overthink it, drafting the answer in your head a dozen of times, imagining what would happen if you write this or that.
Don’t clog your mind. If it takes less than two minutes, answer your emails now and be done with it.
There are two main reasons to postpone answering an email or completing a task. You either don’t want to do it — waiting won’t change that — or you think you need more info. Maybe you do need more intel but is it really going to make your answer that much better? And is the extra information worth all the energy that thinking about finishing that task will take you?
Same goes with tough discussions- get it over with! Don’t waste your energy thinking about it.
And yet, the most important change I’ve done was changing my attitude.
I decided to start appreciating my hard work. During the whole day, I note down what I’ve accomplished. At the end of the day, I review the list.
It’s not introspection yet, but it helps me end my day on a positive note, with a clear mind and the feeling that I’ve achieved a lot.
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