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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Strategies That Help Busy Entrepreneurs Stay Sane

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Strategies That Help Busy Entrepreneurs Stay Sane

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What daily/weekly ritual do you keep that keeps you sane as an entrepreneur?

1. Meditate Stress Away

Gabrielle Bernstein

    My daily ritual always involves at least fifteen minutes of meditation. When I meditate, I give my brain a break. As an entrepreneur my brain is on overdrive. The key to getting real, quality work done is to take a break and tune in. Meditation offers you time to release and recalibrate.

    Gabrielle Bernstein, Gabrielle Bernstein Inc.

     

     

    2. Feed Yourself with Inspiration

    ashley bodi

      You know when you read a quote and immediately it gives you that instant boost you needed in that moment? I keep my favorite quotes with me and look at them daily to remind myself that no matter what, it’s going to be okay and I can push through. Sometimes you need to be reminded of the simple things, even if it’s through a quote.

      Ashley Bodi, Business Beware

       

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      3. Lift Off the Frustration

      Andrew Bachman

        Lifting weights, especially heavy ones, has been something that I have come to rely on as an entrepreneur. The frustrating obstacles that we face every day while blazing new trails can add up. Personally I am driven by my own stress and anxiety, of which I have plenty. Sometimes the only thing that can relieve some of the pressure is a good ass whoopin’ at the gym!

        Andrew Bachman, Scambook.com

         

        4. Stretch to the Limit

        steph-auteri

          It seems like a cliche, but yoga has been my saving grace. It pumps me up for a day of productivity, while simultaneously reducing stress. It helps balance my mood at a time when the days get darker sooner. It stretches me out after hours at the computer. It helps me shut my brain off before going to sleep. I go to a yoga studio five days a week. Scheduling that time for myself keeps me sane.

          Steph Auteri, Word Nerd Pro

           

          5. Break the Rules!

          Matt Wilson

            During my work week, I’m super strict on my nutrition, workouts, sleep and business regimen. To combat this, I constantly break the rules on purpose and have a “cheat day.” Blow off an event, put back a few beers, or sleep in on Friday. Remind yourself that you are human, and the reason you are an entrepreneur is so you can have the freedom and flexibility to make these decisions for yourself.

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            Matt Wilson, Under30Media

            6. Focus on Loved Ones

            Tim Jahn

              Playing with my son every day and spending time with my family keeps me grounded and focused on why I’m doing what I’m doing. I always think of how my business and work affects my family, and ways to constantly improve upon that.

              Tim Jahn, matchist

               

               

              7. Join the Team!

              Jason Evanish

                I try to play at least one team sport every week. I find that while your head is in the game and you’re cheering for your teammates, all the stress and work waiting for you washes away. When I return from the game, I find that much of that stress turns out to be gone for good, and I’m refreshed and ready to take on the week’s challenges.

                Jason Evanish, Greenhorn Connect

                 

                8. Coach a Team!

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                Aaron Schwartz

                  I coach 3rd-5th grade AAU basketball. No matter what’s going on with Modify or in my personal life, I always forget everything stressful when I walk onto the court with the kids. They’re eager to learn and I can’t help but focus only on their growth. And if I’m really stressed, I can just tell them to do more sprints! (Just kidding.)

                  Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

                   

                  9. Touch Base Often

                  Kelly Azevedo

                    I begin each day with a 5-minute check-in call with my accountability partner. We share our daily goals and discuss ongoing challenges and projects. This daily check-in ensures that I make steady progress, and it’s great to know that someone who understands is just a phone call away for support and encouragement.

                    Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

                     

                    10. Mentor Another Entrepreneur

                    Vanessa Van Edwards

                      Sometimes running your own business can be exhausting and you can lose track of end goals and the passion that got you started in the first place. I find that mentoring other young entrepreneurs reminds you why you started your business. Also, the feel-good vibes you get from helping others are the best way to recharge.

                      Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People

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                      11. Read Your Calendar

                      Dmitriy Katsel

                        Our calendars hold a lot of information about how we spend out time. If you sit down and scroll through your calendar to take a look at the meetings, phone calls, projects, and tasks that you have had over the past week, it will give you clarity about the things that you have accomplished and about what you can do differently.

                        Dmitriy Katsel, Spring Theory

                         

                         

                         

                        12. Surf…the Internet?

                        Srinivas Rao

                          I’ve found that the best ideas and most productivity occurs when you actually completely disconnect from the work you’re doing. For me this has been surfing…in the ocean! Anything that forces you to be completely present for even a few hours a week does wonders for your mind, body and, as a result, your business.

                          Srinivas Rao, BlogcastFM

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                          The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

                          The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

                          It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

                          Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

                          “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

                          In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

                          New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

                          There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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                          So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

                          What is the productivity paradox?

                          There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

                          In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

                          He wrote in his conclusion:

                          “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

                          Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

                          How do we measure productivity anyway?

                          And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

                          In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

                          But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

                          In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

                          But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

                          Possible causes of the productivity paradox

                          Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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                          • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
                          • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
                          • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
                          • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

                          There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

                          According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

                          Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

                          The paradox and the recession

                          The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

                          “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

                          This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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                          According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

                          Looking forward

                          A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

                          “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

                          Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

                          “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

                          On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

                          Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

                          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                          Reference

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