When deciding to embark on the entrepreneurial journey, the first thing you often lose is work-life balance.
Those most dedicated to professional success commonly fail to show that same level of commitment to their personal wellbeing. Getting caught up in the starting and running of a business is not an excuse for disregarding your personal life.
It’s more than just a luxury for entrepreneurs to take time off. It’s a necessity. Many entrepreneurs work 24/7, 365 days a year, often driven by a fear that anything left unattended will lead to failure. But it might be wise to consider scheduling time for activities outside the office. It’s important not only for your life, but also for your business.
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For physical wellbeing:
You can’t operate a business if you’re unwell. A fit business person is going to perform optimally in their work. Taking time for regular physical activity will also ensure the de-stress factor, which is essential when running a successful business.
For mental health:
Working 24/7 is a surefire way to burn out. Life is about equilibrium. Ensuring you make time to have fun and connect with friends and family will keep you sane and productive.
Entrepreneurs who take time off to rest their brain and attend to other areas of life will have more clarity when faced with business challenges.
The invention of the 3M Post-It came from someone who allocated time off from his daily routine to create mental space for new ideas and a fresh perspective. Writers can attest to this.
After composing a first draft, there is great value in taking a break. Doing so allows the writer to edit with fresh eyes, and even generate new ideas. The same thing is applicable for any entrepreneur. Innovation often comes when we’re not actively engaged in or thinking about work.
Sometimes letting go is the key to success. This doesn’t mean an entrepreneur has to become lazy or irresponsible. Rather, by deliberately taking time off, we are forced to let go of everything we normally try to control, even for a short time. After all, there’s no way any of us can control every aspect of our business. When you cultivate a life outside work, you’ll ensure that there is more to you than your work.
Putting theory in action
As a university buddy was recounting a great trip to Europe, something snapped inside Jeff Platt. “It was like all of a sudden I woke up,” recalls the CEO of Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park. Though only 24 at the time, Platt was exhausted. H
e’d been working 16-hour days, seven days a week, for two years since launching the Los Angeles-based company’s second trampoline park. He had taken no vacations, and had no social life. But that habit is sustainable only until the reality of mental and physical limits strikes.
“I felt like I was missing out,” he says. “All I was doing was busting my butt. I was tired. I had to slow down. I stepped back and said, it’s time to hire some people.”
Entrepreneurs are often celebrated for wearing multiple hats and logging numerous hours. But working without let-up is a bad habit that can jeopardise business, health and the life you’re supposedly working toward.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of overdoing it, since capital in the early days is tight, but also because few ambitious achievers understand one of the biggest secrets of productivity – the refuelling principle. You get more done quicker when you recharge the brain and body. Studies show that performance increases after breaks of all durations: From extended holidays down to microbreaks of 30 seconds.
Continuous time on-task sets off strain reactions, such as stress, fatigue and negative mood, which drain focus and physical and emotional resources. The brain’s ability to self-regulate – to stay disciplined – wanes with each exercise of self-control during the day. It’s a loss of resources that must be replenished, or it becomes harder to stay on-task, be attentive and solve problems.
“There’s research that says we have a limited pool of cognitive resources,” says Allison Gabriel, an assistant professor of management at Virginia Commonwealth University, who studies job demands and employee motivation.
“When you’re constantly draining your resources, you’re not being as productive as you can be. If you get depleted, performance declines. You’re able to persist less and have trouble solving tasks.”
That’s counter-intuitive in a culture programmed to believe that it takes near non-stop work to get the sale, beat the competitor or do whatever is needed to succeed. For most entrepreneurs, rest is considered the province of lesser mortals, put off for a future that never arrives.
It’s this mentality that keeps entrepreneurs exhausted, stuck and reaping a fraction of potential profits. It’s time to do the last thing in the world you would ever think to do: Take time off. Productivity and performance start with free time, which is the fuel for the energy, creativity and focus that lead to success.
It’s not the amount of time you spend working each day. Entrepreneurs get paid through problem-solving and creativity. You can create a solution in a shorter period of time if you are rested and rejuvenated.
Managing mental resources
Most of us wouldn’t think twice about taking a breather after an hour of action cricket or cycling, but mental fatigue is another story.
The brain is usually seen as an ethereal realm that exists apart from the body and the laws of physiology. Yet gray matter tires well before the body does. Since almost all of us are doing mental work these days, managing cognitive resources is not a nice thing to be able to do; it’s essential.
The brain is like a muscle. You can strengthen it or deplete it, Gabriel says: “If you let this muscle recharge and replenish, you’ll feel better mentally and see improvements in your performance.”
Regular refuelling is a pre-requisite for quality output, because the brain is an energy machine, consuming 20% of the body’s calories, even though it’s only 2% of total body mass. Energy that gets expended must be re-supplied.
One study found that mental fatigue takes hold after three hours of continuous time on-task; other scientists say brains need a break after 90 minutes, the length of the ‘basic rest-activity cycle’.
Burning up mental resources without replacing them leads to stress, burnout and poor performance. Stress constricts the brain to a narrow focus – a perceived threat – making it hard to concentrate on anything else, plan or make good decisions.
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Staying focused on a task uses up a key cognitive resource: Self-control. Studies show that regulating our emotions is taxing. Known in research circles as ego depletion, this holds that every time we exercise self-regulation – paying attention, suppressing emotions, managing how we act to conform to a cultural norm – we use limited regulatory resources and reduce the ability for further self-control, depleting energy and causing fatigue.
Recovery opportunities might range from breaks during the workday to diversions that shut off the work mind when you get home at night, to weekend activities, holidays and sleep. Holidays have been shown to lead to significantly higher performance.
The energising ingredients are time away from stressors, and mastery and social experiences that build competence and social connections.
Leaving work at work is an important recovery strategy – and the hardest. Detaching from work reduces fatigue and promotes positive effects at work.
Watching TV is not an effective diversion. The average state of a TV viewer is a mild depression. Instead, try new hobbies and experiences that satisfy core psychological needs such as autonomy and competence, which energise, empower and buffer job stress.
When time off is as important as time on, it can lead to all kinds of performance gains. “We’ve quadrupled the size of the company,” says Noah Katz, co-president of a New York firm with 850 employees. “You need to recharge the batteries. You come back like a tiger and get more done.”
New year, new start
Create a new calendar in which your weeks are broken down into ‘free days’, when no work or checking in to email or the office is allowed; ‘buffer days’, for planning and preparation; and ‘focus days’, for high-value, goal-oriented practices.
This can be shock treatment for you if you haven’t had a day off in months or a holiday in years but, after learning how to delegate, focus on what you do best and use free time to sharpen energy and clarity. You may wind up taking a month off a year.
By getting away from work and letting the mind get involved in thinking, hobbies and rejuvenation, you come back to the job and produce results faster. Thinking is one of the crucial benefits of stepping back. Just as quality time off fuels energetic resources on the job, reflective time is critical to producing solutions and creative breakthroughs.
There’s a good reason for that. When you’re thinking about a problem, it’s confined to one or two regions in the brain, but the solution may not be in those areas. By resting, the information sits in your brain and then percolates across other sections.
Having The Time Of Your Life
How can you avoid a To-Do list that never gets ticked off by the end of the week? Or maximise the number of hours you work on critical projects, to achieve your career goals? And why is it important to take time out?
Being an entrepreneur is a constant balancing act between the demands of your business needs and your personal life. The key to a work/life balance that ensures you achieving your work and personal goals for the year ahead, is effective time management.
Time is our greatest resource and there are many ways in which to maximise your ability to manage this precious commodity. But how can you avoid a To-Do list that never gets ticked off by the end of the week? Or maximise the number of hours you work on critical projects, to achieve your career goals? And why is it important to take time out?
Unfortunately, time does equal money
In the modern workplace and in most businesses, time is synonymous with money. Whether you bill by the hour, or bake by the truckload, time is essential in running a successful career and business. Just think of how important time is in the service industry, and how time influences purchasing decisions. Think of all the drive-through fast food chains in a city – all there to save time. Because time is indeed money, it is critical to prioritise your time effectively. Keep in mind your most pressing deadlines, plan ahead and prioritise clients and customers effectively.
Me-time with a twist
Self-management impacts on your personal effectiveness and includes managing yourself and your time, being responsible for your achievements and being accountable for your results and successes. In business, if you prioritise a company’s time more efficiently, it can lead to improved customer service, improved delivery, increased profits, and increased market shares.
Imagine what it could do for you if you made the mind shift to prioritise your time and self-regulate your time daily?
Visualise that empty inbox
Start by removing thoughts of procrastination and imagine yourself as a “doer.” Think of the benefits of becoming a doer. What would our work life be like if we organised our tasks in order of importance, and not in order of enjoyment? What would it feel like to be thought of as someone who “got things done” and was “reliable?” How would we handle our paperwork? Imagine having an empty in-tray.
Critically, managing your time and self-regulating the hours, minutes and seconds in a work day will free up time for the people that matter in your life. Go watch that ballet recital or cricket game you never have time for. Have a coffee with a fellow entrepreneur and see how these small acts of rewarding you for time well spent, with energise you in your daily tasks.
Ditch the time wasters
A Time Waster is anything (or anyone) that doesn’t contribute to your daily goals or your To-Do List. Many of these time wasters have become a natural part of our work style. Now is the time to change – to reverse the process. It will take time and effort to get rid of time-wasting habits. Research shows that it takes approximately 21 days to change a habit.
For example, at first, we will have to make a conscious effort to keep our meetings on track. If things are dragging on, we need to stand up and indicate that the meeting is over (if you are running it), or to be excused (if your input is no longer required). This applies to all the time-wasting habits we have acquired.
It may be uncomfortable at first to tell a colleague that you are busy and unable to chat – but as you get used to being assertive and as they get accustomed to the fact that you are not always available – then it will become easier.
More tips to deal with time wasters
- Fix a time for paperwork and admin;
- Have clear daily objectives;
- Delegate work as needed;
- Group your telephone calls;
- Be assertive with unannounced visitors.
The Secret To Living A Balanced Life As A CEO? Pick A Strong Second In Command
The key is to find a partner who is strong in areas where you are weak.
Entrepreneurs are not known for having work-life balance. In my experience, trying to find balance as a start-up founder is like looking for a real-life unicorn. If you’re looking to create something that is disrupting an industry, the path isn’t going to be easy.
Building out a new idea practically guarantees imbalance. This is especially true in the early stages of a start-up. Prior to joining LegalZoom, I would work 100 hours a week. It was a fast-paced start-up world. I had to make certain sacrifices. For example, I chose not to have a family right away, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to be the present father I wanted to be. However, I was prepared to make those decisions. I believed in the work I was doing, and I knew it was going to take blood, sweat and tears.
So, what’s my advice to entrepreneurs on achieving balance? First, grow the company. Even in a company of 25 people, the burden of leadership generally falls on one person. It can take upwards of 100 people to really notice a shift in leadership. But, second, and most importantly, look for a co-partner that is just as strong as you are.
The one-two punch
Usually, when companies are founded, there is one individual who is celebrated. We forget there’s almost always another person behind the scenes helping to call the shots. Oftentimes, that person doesn’t want to share the spotlight. He or she is happy to have a non-public facing role and just want to get the work done.
We tend to talk about the visionaries, but there has to be a person in the company who helps turn that vision into reality. We all know Walt Disney, and maybe even the previous longtime CEO Michael Eisner, but what about Frank Wells? As the president and COO alongside Eisner, Wells helped lead the company through a 10-year period of unprecedented growth. Steve Jobs will forever be remembered as the visionary behind Apple, but Steve Wozniak provided the necessary engineering expertise to drive the company forward. Even today, many believe Elon Musk needs a strong second-in-command to help run Tesla.
I call this dynamic the “one-two punch” in leadership. As a CEO, you have to think critically about your second-in-command – whether it’s the COO, CTO or CFO.
We all want to be able to spend our time doing the things at which we excel. Excellence is what drives the company forward. At LegalZoom, I’ve been able to spend 80 percent of my working hours on tasks that leverage my strengths. The only way that I can do that is by having a partner who is strong in areas I may be weaker. In a strong one-two punch combination, both of us are spending 80 percent of our time on our strengths. The key is that those strengths don’t overlap.
How to find a great co-captain
The longer you wait to find your “two,” or if you make a mistake in selecting that person, you set yourself up for trouble. How do you find a second-in-command that can help you lead your company to success? It may seem obvious, but the first key is to understand where your weaknesses lie. It is essential that your co-leader make up for the skills that you lack, and vice versa.
It’s important to consider a person’s background as well, but don’t be afraid to look beyond the resume. I’ve judged candidates before based on raw talent and a gut feeling on their potential. Sometimes the best person for the role doesn’t necessarily have the strongest resume. Instead, he or she has a high level of motivation and a killer work ethic. These are the individuals that never hear “no.” They look for solutions rather than just identifying issues – and they are critical in the startup world.
Ultimately, while you bring different skill sets and career aspirations to the table, you and your co-partner must connect at a collegial level. At the end of the day, you have to appreciate what the other does. You have to share a common vision and mission.
Finding balance, after all
Any CEO with some semblance of balance in their life owes it to the small army of individuals behind them helping to make it happen. While you should prepare for imbalance early in your career and understand the sacrifices it takes to start a company, with the right “two,” you’ll have the support needed to succeed.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Travel At The Touch Of A Button
The revolutionary Travelit app has been developed for the global marketplace to meet your business travel needs.
Travelit has launched an easy-to-use mobile app that simplifies the trip approval process, provides a full trip itinerary and assists in management of travel expenses.
“The app is designed in South Africa, for the African and global marketplace,” says Wayne Muirhead Chief Sales Officer at Travelit. “We have developed the app locally with our own developers, and opted not to use a white labelling solution.”
The app interface enables the requirements of travellers, approvers, users, as well as finance and procurement role players to be met so each trip is seamlessly planned and executed.
Stress-free financial administration
“Expense management is an integral part of the complete travel cost; businesses want to understand their complete travel bill,” says Wayne. This is why the app incorporates features that facilitate:
- Capturing of photographs of receipts real-time
- Immediate allocation of expenses to the correct description
- Uploading expenses for workflow approval
- Attachment of an expense to a travel trip, or generating a non-travel related expense.
Simplified trip approval process
In addition, approvers’ features enable simple visibility into the trip’s cost and details:
- Approval of booking requests
- Trip confirmation once trip has been successfully approved
- Managing alerts — approval notifications, pre-trip notification as well as travel notifications
- Out of office activation for approvers.
Trip management made easy
With Travelit’s new app, travellers have the ability to update, create new profiles directly from their phones and update and store all their information, including:
- Updating of profile details
- Personal information
- Visas, passports, meal types, seating preferences
- Loyalty programmes.
As a traveller, when you are travelling, you require information, updates and access to your travel documentation in real time. The Trip Manager function provides you with this through the following functions:
- View current, pending and past trips
- Trip itinerary information
- View trips that are awaiting approval
- View supplier vouchers
- Locate properties via the Map option
- Boarding passes are available
- Real-time alerts to travellers.
Related: Save Up To 25% On Your Travel Costs
“We have done a soft launch with the app and offered it to strategic users and clients within our ecosystem,” says Wayne. These corporates have enjoyed the functions within the app, such as:
- Real time information for the traveller (itineraries, vouchers, boarding passes)
- Approval notifications and the approval capability
- Contact information for the consultants after-hours, and assistance
- Access to the traveller profile to ensure their data is updated and correct
- Check-in to the airline.
The Travelit app is available in the Google Play Store and iOS Store. Travelit will make monthly app releases by offering users ongoing functionality and features.
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