Powering Through The New Normal: Four Ways Entrepreneurs Can Boost Their Focus and Well-Being
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Hello ‘treps! Having read lots of articles and blogs over recent months, I decided it was time to dust off my publishing hat and write a new post. It has been a few years since I stepped down as CEO of Brndstr, a company that I had founded, and during this time, I have been busy building and growing a new team around the world for our new private messaging app called Privy. With staff and partners in five different time zones, being able to focus and feel productive has been absolute key to success.
Now, amidst the lockdowns imposed on us owing to the coronavirus pandemic, all of us have had to very quickly adapt to a new way of working, living, and going about our days. As entrepreneurs working on our dreams and building our own businesses, finding focus and motivation is hard under normal circumstances- so, how do we reboot our approach and find that next level in our current situations? Below are my top four changes I personally made during this time and the ultimate secret weapon that gave me insane focus and newfound energy to power through the new normal:
1. REFRESH THE DESK The desk and work environment is, in my opinion, one of the most important factors to being productive. When we had an office at Brndstr, we spent a lot of time and effort to create a very cool and comfortable work environment. And now, when working from home, it is just as important to make sure that this is also the case. One thing I try to do is make sure I frequently refresh my desk, whether it be by moving items around, changing a photo, or upgrading certain items. When the lockdown was announced and I realized that I’d be spending even more time at my desk for video calls and work hours, I decided to spend some time giving a desk refresh. Here are a few approaches to consider:
- Lighting There are a number of ways to help brighten up the desk space. I opted to install some ambient back lights. These attach around the edge of the desk, and allow you to change color and mood based upon how you feel. Apart from looking super cool, they have also helped with the back lighting for my screens and my eyes feel less tired. It’s cool to mix up the colors depending on time of day and mood. (As I write this, I have the cool blue theme set!)
- Plants I read today that there has been a 300% increase of plant sales in the UAE. That’s no surprise as plants bring both zen and color to a workspace. But I have to be honest and say that to avoid plant deaths, I opted for the little artificial ones from IKEA. For about AED30, you get a perfect little desk plant and pot that brings a tiny part of life to your desk space. I actually bought two to even out the space, and I love the latest addition.
- Equipment Having a good-sized computer monitor is really important for a number of reasons. Not only does it help your eyes and posture, it also means you have a lot more space to stay organized when trying to juggle your daily tasks. For me I do a lot of product design and UI work, and so I opted for a 32-inch ultra-wide Samsung screen. I also have a laptop stand to raise my MacBook that ensures I keep my back and neck from getting tired. One other item I recently invested in was a good microphone- I have to admit that it becomes the talk of most Zoom calls, and people joke I think I am a radio DJ, but this new addition has transformed the sound quality and ease of getting on any call. I am no longer looking for AirPods, or asking if people can hear me!
2. MIX UP THE MUSIC In my opinion, music is the heartbeat of life. I love music, and it always lifts my mood. I recently spent some time finding and adding new playlists to my Spotify account that have really helped with productivity. From doing some research, I found that a certain beats-per-minute and tunes with no words are the best. My current fav playlist is one called Lo-Fi Beats that gets me in the zone every time. It's also important to play the music that suits your mood. A banger of a tune can always make you smile. In order to play the music, it is also important to have the quality equipment to hear it on. I choose to have it playing from speakers rather than headphones, but depending on your environment, choose a setup that suits you.
3. WALK AND TALK We are spending more time than ever now on video and audio calls to the wider teams. My day usually starts around 5:30am, so I can catch my team in Los Angeles and New York- it’s now normal to participate on calls wearing chilled clothes. As the day passes, you can find yourself glancing at the clock and then realizing that you spent all day sitting down on calls. As such, one thing I started to do was try and do one or two hours of calls whilst walking. We obviously need to follow lockdown rules and make sure we are allowed out, but joining a call from your phone whilst walking really helps refresh the mind. Be honest with the other members on the call, and here’s a tip: don't walk where the birds sing as they can be rather loud! Walking and talking for 1-2 hours a day has really helped me keep my focus when I do end up sitting at the desk. If you are unable to leave your home, then walking around the room or house can also help get the blood pumping around your body and help with concentration.
4. THE SECRET WEAPON Are you ready for this? No, are you really ready?!? I have found the most unbelievable secret weapon for laser focus and mood boosting. If you do not already know about this magical find, let me introduce you to the world of ketones. A few weeks ago, a good friend told me about how they had recently started taking ketones every morning and how amazing they felt- their energy levels had multiplied, and their mood felt boosted. For those of you unfamiliar with ketones, they are a drink that you mix with water and take each morning. This puts your body into a state of ketosis in less than 50 mins without having to go through the keto diet. Being in ketosis means you experience better energy, better moods, better sleep, and because it burns fat, you also benefit from weightloss. They give you a refreshed focus, as it is the brain’s prefered energy source.
Having spent the first month of lockdown pretty much doubling in size and eating everything in my fridge, I was keen to see what ketones were all about. (There are a number of videos available to watch at this link if you want to learn more.) The biggest challenge I faced was knowing what to eat and when to eat, because we had to bulk buy, and that meant we had way more food on hand than before. I found out that I was eating more food and drinking more coffee at the start of my day, and this resulted in a dip in focus and reduced energy throughout the day. So, I decided to give ketones a try for 10 days. To my absolute surprise, after day three, I was jumping out of bed, which at 5:30am always felt hard, but now was enjoyable. I looked forward to having my morning ketone shake and getting down to business. I did some research and found that it is scientifically proven that when your body is in a state of ketosis, it naturally gives you energy and more focus. Because it helps your body burn fats you not only feel energized, you lose weight and have no cravings. I used to love coffee and could not start my day without one.
Since taking ketones, I find I don't drink coffee anymore and feel so much lighter in myself. Indeed, ketones are like coffee without the crash. I have also found that I am saving money too, because I no longer need to stock up on coffee, snacks, and unnecessary foods that I was consuming throughout the day. There are many articles and forums on the internet about how ketones have helped people with depression, mood swings, and general wellbeing. For me, this newfound secret weapon has given me a new level of focus and positive energy that is truly welcomed at a time when finding motivation to work has been a challenge.
We all will have our own ways of getting through these difficult times and the items mentioned above are just some of the steps I have made to help me as an entrepreneur find focus and motivation. Please reach out to me on Twitter @Hudson if you want to know more details about the things mentioned, and I wish you and your family all the best during these turbulent times. Until next time, stay safe!