Entrepreneurs are a unique breed; they’re bright, clever, able to make connections and see hidden possibilities. They are, by nature, ill-suited for the typical 9-to-5 office regimen: the cubed cages, the distractions, the daily tedium. On their quest for innovation, they take the path less traveled, one that aligns with their core principles and adventurous spirit.
To better understand how the entrepreneurial brain works, MIT researchers conducted a study using imaging scans that identified how subjects tapped into right-brain (creative) and left-brain (logical) resources during a cognitive test. The researchers found that the entrepreneurs studied had highly ambidextrous brains and could switch easily back and forth between right- and left-brain functions to form broader insights and conclusions.
One might think that an entrepreneur equipped with a brain that’s more evenly balanced than most might have a very healthy work-life balance. That’s not necessarily the case as entrepreneurs are driven to continually innovate and finding new solutions in their work.
Here are 10 quick and easy tips to help busy entrepreneurs achieve a balanced and healthy life -- on and off the job:
1. Find the fun. The typical entrepreneur grows a business from a seed of singular inspiration: a passion, an idea, a stroke of genius in the middle of the night. If you’re struggling from burnout, reorient yourself by focusing on your passions. Disconnect from the business (temporarily but completely) and rejuvenate through connections with family and friends.
2. Compartmentalize. One of the greatest advantages that entrepreneurs have is their inherent ability to see things differently. Their high degree of comfort with ambiguity gives them a marked advantage in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. But if you find yourself constantly in “reaction mode” because things are coming at you from all sides, every day, perhaps you’re blurring the boundaries between what’s urgent and what’s important. Stephen Covey created a simple, yet invaluable time-management system to help people organize tasks, behaviors and even thoughts and remove the trivial, time-wasting behaviors from their day. Give it a try.
3. Make lists. Create and maintain daily and weekly to-do lists, prioritizing each task. Use the 1-3-5 system. Keep simple paper lists or use the latest and greatest app. Figure out which system works for you, get it down and hold yourself accountable.
4. Be smart with your smartphone. Personal devices have become our lifelines, but they often can inadvertently control our lives. Be sure to use the “do not disturb” function and turn off your phone after a certain time at night. Tag your VIP emails so that you don’t feel the constant gravitational pull toward your device.
5. Learn to delegate. As your business grows, realize that you can’t do it all yourself. If you’re running a one-person show, explore ways to delegate mundane tasks to TaskRabbit. Consider, too, the value of setting up at your company an unpaid internship program with a local university.
6. Root out procrastination. The fundamental cause of procrastination is fear. Consider such fear a sign that you’re taking the source of your avoidance too seriously. Feel the fear, but push through and do the task anyway. Just begin.
7. Understand your creative cycles. Develop a healthier, happier and more productive balance between performance and renewal by seeking and maintaining solitude. Solitude provides, with calm and quiet, a space where you can reflect on and cultivate your thoughts. In turn, you will have more energy to contribute to your teams and projects. For more information on optimizing engagement, definitely check out The Power of Full Engagement.
8. Start your day before the sun rises. Perhaps the best habit you can develop is to take advantage of the early morning hours and start each day thoughtfully, setting yourself up for success for the rest of the day. Whether you spend these early hours working out, meditating or reviewing your goals, invest in yourself during the quiet time without distraction. Brian Tracy calls this time the golden hour, the quiet moments that allow you to focus on the future.
9. Schedule down time. Rest and rebuild. Spend time in the park with the grass between your toes. Schedule a vacation with your family. Leave your phone and laptop at home. It’s important to gift yourself some time that's 100 percent you.
10. Don’t forget your health. Ease up on the coffee; try green tea every once in a while. Work out at least three times a week. Eat unprocessed foods that taste good and that are good for you. You’ve heard this advice by now; it’s time to start heeding it. Burning the candle at both ends is a quick way to burn out.