5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Do to Reduce Stress
As entrepreneurs, we’re often caught in a bind trying to prioritize between our personal health and the needs of companies that would fall apart without us and visions we’re deeply devoted to. When in a work crunch, it’s hard to justify taking time for oneself. But if we continue to push ourselves to the bottom of our own to-do list, the consequences can impact exactly the things we’re trying to make time and space for.
Here is a list of not just tips but also apps and services that can help you go from idea to reality suggested by other entrepreneurs.
1. Get enough exercise.
It’s one of the hardest healthy habits to start when you feel like you barely have time to sit down every week, but it may be the one that pays off the most. If you feel tired and burned out at the end of the day, try getting your workout in before you start work in the morning, or use it as a way to get invigorated over your lunch break (but don’t forget to eat the lunch too). As Kevin Surace (Appvance) suggests, a personal trainer can really help you stay on track. Apps like FitMob or many of Fitbit’s products can go a long way in helping you get enough exercise.
2. Find out where your time goes.
If you need to find more time in the day, try tracking how you’re using your time for a week or two. Geoffrey James says that “90 percent of time management is simply tracking how much time you’re spending on each type of task.” Apps like Hours Tracker can be hugely helpful for this. As you record your actions, also take note of how much stress they cause you (on a scale of 1-10). You may see some patterns emerge that help you balance things out better, and you can also get a real idea of where your time is going--are you really spending time on the things that are most important to you? If not, you may want to re-evaluate.
3. Try something new.
Find ways to break up your day. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner takes one on one meetings walking outside, as a way of being productive and getting out of the office. You could also try meditation, though it can be an intimidating idea for a person who already has a ton of thoughts tumbling around his or her head. FD Entrepreneurs suggest calm.com, which offers relaxing audio and visuals, and the option of doing guided or unguided meditation for anywhere from 2-20 minutes. That low level of commitment can make it easier to start.
4. Make better lists.
If you feel like every to-do list is miles long and full of items that are all top priority, you might want to look into some better ways to organize what you need to get done. Try to be realistic about how much time things will actually take you, so that you’re not constantly accomplishing less than half of the things that you set out to do in a day. Lists are also good outlets to store your inspirations for later so that, as Jayson DeMers(AudienceBloom) says, you’re not forced to store them in your “mental RAM.” One great way to to this is Workflowy (Y Combinator S10), an app/website that you can use to make a dynamic list/outline of everything in your head, accessing important items when you need them via hashtags. Another great option is Any.do, which lets you easily manage todos and set reminders.
5. Eat well by planning well.
Yes, this sounds simple but when you’ve skipped a meal and are working late, it’s difficult not to grab the quickest option, which often isn’t the healthiest. As Bill Snapper (Formerly of Nimbit) says, a lot of startups have well-stocked kitchens--that doesn’t mean you need to be grazing all day long on junky snacks. Fill yours with healthy snacks like fruits, nuts and vegetables, and/or bring enough of your own food to get you through the day without being tempted. Also, don’t skip meals--setting a reminder on your phone can help on those days when you’re constantly putting out fires. Apps like Postmates andSpoonrocket can also help the time-crunched who need a meal quick.
You know yourself, which means you know that trying to implement a bunch of changes at once probably won’t work out too well. To make changes that last, do them in small increments. And pat yourself on the back when you do. Don’t make de-stressing something that causes more stress by blowing up your to-do list. Keep track of your progress and you’ll stay motivated.
Jessica Alter is founder and CEO of FounderDating, the people network for entrepreneurs to connect and help one another. Previously, Jessica ledbBusiness bevelopment and was GM of platforms at Bebo. She is also a startup advisor and mentor at Extreme Startups and 500 Startups.