Many entrepreneurs no longer want to trade success for their health, money for time with their families or a business at the expense of their passion.
With that, it’s more important than ever to devote yourself to improvement and success across all the facets of your life and not just toward your business alone.
For example, developing a healthy exercise routine isn’t just good for your body, it’s a great opportunity to exercise your ability to keep personal commitments, improve personal discipline and hold yourself accountable for results. Don’t those all sound like they have great business implications as well?
1. Better boundaries
If you don’t have good boundaries, you’re not going to make it far in entrepreneurship or in life. The most successful people in life are those who know the power of no.
The first important step of developing better boundaries is to first decide what your core values are as a person and in business. Once you set the standards for how you want to operate personally and how you want your business to operate, you have to follow up that decision with action and keep them enforced.
For example, if you commit to your partner that Friday night is date night, you have to enforce the boundaries of your business creeping into your Friday nights. If you set the boundary that every morning from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. you’re at the gym, you can’t let your staff infringe on that boundary with early morning meetings.
In the same regard, you have to ask your friends and family to respect the boundaries you set for your working life and day, especially if your work starts from a home office. Set the rules for yourself and then stick to them, using the power of no as you need it.
2. Take breaks
Work styles vary, but one thing is certain, getting up away from the desk is important. Moving around helps reset your energy level and stimulate new thoughts. It also gets the blood flowing, which is good for the mind and body.
Don’t just stop at getting up from the desk, though. Breaks from work altogether are important. Make sure at least one day of your busy entrepreneurial week is reserved for a personal day. It’s crucial to disconnect from work for periods of time to rejuvenate your mind and body.
Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint, so if you don’t make time for yourself you’ll burn out. Take breaks and use the time to wisely reconnect to your creativity and passion.
3. Say what you mean
Being an entrepreneur is hard work and there are times in the startup phase where you’ll want to agree to certain things to get going. That’s why step one of knowing your boundaries is so important as an entrepreneur. Know what you want and where you’re headed so that you can align your actions with your words.
Many arguments and misunderstandings can trace their roots to bad communication. You may shy from being direct to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, whether it’s a staff member or a family member, but entrepreneurs need to have clear, direct communication.
One great tip is to have the person you’re communicating with recap your conversation in their own words. See if what they heard from you is what you meant to say. If their recap of your conversation is unclear, then so was your communication.
Don’t get out of a challenging conversation until you’re both in agreement and can accurately summarise the outcome of the conversation. Then neither one of you will base your actions and next steps on assumptions about what was said, but rather upon an agreed-upon direction.
4. Watch your mouth
Words are powerful, and you need to make sure what comes out of your mouth agrees with what you believe and where you want to go. It’s harder to take back something you didn’t mean or waffle on a statement you previously made then to speak your truth the first time and stand by it.
Learning to say what you mean will improve your business and personal relationships, help ensure your boundaries stay in place and improve the quality of your communications.
If how you do one thing is how you do everything then you should take the time to practice the art of clarity. Clarity in conversation can be very important but so can clarity in your home, mind and body. Keep yourself organised in every aspect of your life by spending the few extra moments a day it takes to clean up after yourself, eliminate clutter and get organised.
Too much clutter in the inbox, on your desk and in your home can lead to unproductive time looking for lost items. When you keep your life organised, you’re able to access important things when you want them because you know where they are. That helps improve your productivity, and if there’s one thing every entrepreneur needs, it’s more time!
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Avoid Burnout With These Small Changes To The Way You Work
Follow these five tips to work smarter, not harder.
Workplace burnout is real. I know, because I’ve been there, and I know most others have as well at some point or another. Thrive Global’s Arianna Huffington is no different. She’s on a mission to fix what she deems a “culture of burnout,” after her own collapse from exhaustion in 2007.
Huffington rightly says: “When we take care of ourselves, we are more effective, we are more creative and we are more successful in a broad definition of the word.”
Medical News Bulletin recently published “Can Positive Psychology Traits Prevent Burnout?,” referencing a study where participants completed a survey about the balance of the effort versus reward from a job. This particular research was focused on the manufacturing industry in China, given the “monotonous and repetitive nature of their work,” but this can be said for many professions and sectors. It was found that hope, self-efficacy, resilience and optimism can help to manage work stress, and people with these qualities are less likely to become burnt out.
Related: (Video) Avoid Burn Out
There have been many studies published over the years that working less results in higher productivity (hint: the optimal number is less than 40 hours per week). Perhaps even more important is that it’s nearly impossible to stay focused for long stretches at a time. Some research suggests that you should be breaking as frequently as every hour.
Work smarter not harder
In line with that, I believe in working smarter, not harder. While there are 24 hours in a day, they weren’t all made for work. I’m in the camp that working eight hours nonstop is actually more unproductive than it is beneficial. Your brain has peak operating times, and what works for one may not work for another.
Some people are at their best in the mornings, while others are most efficient late at night. I firmly believe that dictating what hours you should work and when is not the best method to yield quality work.
I often get asked how I can get things done. I work from home, and some have the perspective that I have no one to hold me accountable throughout the day. Inquiring minds wonder everything from what my daily schedule looks like, to how I motivate myself to finish up a project or prospect for my next client.
Let me start by saying that I strongly value flexibility. It’s the reason why working for myself is the best fit for me. But I hold myself accountable, and there’s a certain amount of self-discipline involved in doing that. Everything I do is because I’ve set goals for myself.
I have a duty to uphold to my clients and my partners, and a commitment to myself about the success of my business. I also pride myself in the underrated aspect of efficiency. It’s not how long you do something for, but how well you do it.
Several books I’ve read over the years on this topic have stuck with me. Getting Things Done, by David Allen, addresses the two-minute rule. If you can do something in two minutes or less, do it now. Don’t make a note and come back to it later. The time you spend thinking about it, planning it and recording it is more than the time it actually takes to complete the task.
Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Work Week covers the topic of efficiency as well. He’s a prime example of taking the phrase “Work smarter, not harder” to a whole new level. To be successful, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to work more, only that you need to work more efficiently.
Based on experience, I’ve adopted these top five tips to do just that:
Free up your mind
There is no need to remember everything. You read that right. Why are you keeping everything in your mind, which only serves to bog you down and make you feel overwhelmed? Find a record-keeping system that works for you.
Related: Admin Hacks For Entrepreneurs
Some people prefer old-fashioned paper notes. I prefer electronic. With a Mac laptop and an iPhone, I use Notes and Reminders apps to store everything I need to do or think about. I schedule reminder times to make sure I’ve checked something off my list. No matter what device I’m on, I know it’s available to me.
Plus, I schedule everything on my calendar – my morning activities to start my day, hours allocated for every client and even things like time to take a walk. But again, I’m flexible. I move things around as needed, but I know I have set time to focus on a task at hand.
Plan and bucket
Some projects seem daunting from the start, but they need to be done whether you want to or not. Oftentimes the hardest part of a project is starting it.
Create a plan and break it down into manageable chunks. If you can complete a portion each day, not only will your mind stay sharp, but that focus will also help to make the task more bearable. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Follow the 80/20 rule
I’m a longtime follower of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle: 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of the work.
Why are you spending time on things that take 80 percent of your resources but deliver 20 percent of the value?
Stop doing meaningless tasks, or outsource them if they must be done. Prioritisation is one of the most important keys to efficiency.
It might seem counter intuitive that you can get more done by working less, but the human mind was not created to work non-stop. As research suggests, breaks are beneficial. Go for a walk, have lunch away from your desk, read a book, catch up with a friend or colleague – I promise you’ll feel refreshed and ready to reengage.
The 40-hour workweek is so synonymous with the American culture that it’s unlikely to change in the corporate world anytime soon. Most of us know that 40 hours isn’t really 40 hours anyway, it’s “whatever it takes.” That being said, with influencers like Huffington working to educate companies on the detriments of overwork, there’s hope.
There’s nothing wrong with working hard – it’s to be admired and valued. But don’t work long hours only for the sake of it. The companies that are getting it right realise that face time isn’t everything.
The results you deliver, the reputation you hold and the relationships you build should always outweigh the hours of your workweek. As an entrepreneur, you can take advantage of this and you can evangelise this approach to others. Work smarter, not harder, and you’ll be better for it.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
4 Ways Sleeping Naked Makes You Healthier and Wealthier
What if I told you in just ten seconds a day, you can sleep better, make more money, reduce stress and lose weight?
Sleeping naked can improve your sleep habits and income earning capacity, while reducing stress and helping you to lose weight. All you have to do is take off your clothes. While there are countless strategies floating around out there to help you improve in these areas, none is as simple — and many are less effective — as stripping down before you go to sleep.
Since only 8% of people sleep naked, almost everyone can discover the benefits of sleeping in the buff. This may sound far-fetched, but hear me out before you throw those cozy flannel pyjamas on.
1. You sleep better naked
We’ve always known that quality sleep is good for your brain, but recent research from the University of Rochester demonstrates exactly how so. The study found that when you sleep your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake. The catch here is that your brain can only adequately remove these toxic proteins when you have sufficient quality sleep.
When you don’t get high quality, deep sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc and ultimately impairing your ability to think. This slows your ability to process information and problem solve, kills your creativity and increases your emotional reactivity.
Researchers at the University of Amsterdam found that lowering your skin temperature increases the depth of your sleep and reduces the number of times you wake up at night. Stripping down to your birthday suit is a great way to lower your skin temperature without changing the temperature of the room.
2. Sleeping naked reduces stress
We all know that prolonged stress is bad news. It suppresses your immune system and increases your risk of heart disease, depression and obesity, in addition to decreasing your cognitive performance. Stress throws your cortisol levels out of whack. Proper rest helps to restore normal cortisol levels, which improves your stress level, regardless of what’s happening around you. As described in the section above, sleeping naked will help you to get a better night’s sleep.
3. Sleeping naked is healthier
Sleeping naked has a slew of health benefits, including helping you to lose weight. A study conducted by the US National Institutes of Health found that keeping yourself cool while you sleep speeds the body’s metabolism because your body creates more brown fat to keep you warm. Brown fat produces heat by burning calories (300 times more heat than any organ in the body), and this boosts your metabolism all day long to help you lose weight.
In addition to the metabolic effects of sleeping in the buff, removing your clothes improves blood circulation, which is good for your heart and muscles. The quality sleep you’ll enjoy also increases the release of growth hormone and melatonin, both of which have anti-ageing benefits.
4. Sleeping naked builds confidence
Confidence doesn’t just feel good; it’s the pillar of success. It pushes you to try new things, take on challenges and persevere in the face of adversity. A University of Melbourne study found that confident people earn higher wages and get promoted more often than their less confident counterparts. Sleeping naked makes you more comfortable in your own skin. As your comfort with your body increases, so does your self-esteem and confidence.
Bringing It All Together
The benefits of sleeping naked are many — so many that you owe it to yourself to give it a try.
Even If You Work Hard And Love What You Do, You’re Still At Risk Of Burning Out
And no, it can’t be be resolved by blowing off some steam or meditating for 30 minutes.
When we’re deeply immersed in our work, we’re often committed to a goal and a quality standard and making progress accordingly. This is what people mean when they talk about “engagement.” Is the person not only working hard, but truly invested in what they’re doing?
Naturally, however, working hard can result in stress, which can lead to burnout, even if a person is extremely passionate about their work. A recent study from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence found that nearly one in five people are both highly engaged with their work and experiencing exhaustion and burnout.
The researchers conducted an online survey to suss out the conflicting emotions this group feels toward their jobs – these individuals are interested in their work, but they’re also frustrated and stressed out by it. They’re stressed out to the extent that they think more about leaving their current jobs than people who aren’t engaged with their work do.
In other words, there’s such a thing as too much engagement. So what can we do to make sure workers don’t get too wrapped up in their work? The answer isn’t workplace programs that involve nutrition or meditation, the researchers warn.
“While we know that chronic stress is not good for employees, company wellness initiatives are not the primary way to respond to that stress,” study lead Julia Moeller writes in Harvard Business Review. “Our data suggests that while wellness initiatives can be helpful, a much bigger lever is the work itself.”
The researchers break down the factors that determine a worker’s experience into two categories: Resources and demands. If a worker has tangible resources such as time, money and equipment at their disposal, as well as intangibles such as empathy or even friendship from their team, they’ll be better off. They’ll also benefit from rewards and recognition for the work they do.
But if all of this is coupled with an environment that doesn’t demand that they work or think too hard – one that fosters work-life balance and doesn’t involve goals so lofty they’re impossible to achieve – most workers with this set of circumstances will thrive.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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