Do More by Working Less
Imagine that you are a pilot, flying to a dream destination.
Suddenly the air pressure in the cabin drops; your brain goes into overdrive as you frantically assess the problem and work toward the solution. With adrenaline pumping full speed, you refuse to take the time to put on your oxygen mask. Instead, you push harder and worry more.
What are the odds of landing your aircraft safely?
Many entrepreneurs show a similar behavior pattern; wanting to get to the destination of their dreams, oftentimes becoming reckless with their health and well-being while on the journey. Building a business may be hard work--but attempting to go the distance with no gas in the tank is futile.
You know who you are. You want to do it all and won't let go of the controls, even for a moment. You want to please everyone and typically put your own needs on the back burner to do so. Perhaps you don't see enough of your family, or your stress doesn't allow you to enjoy the time you do have with them.
It's time to reach for the oxygen mask.
But you don't believe that you have the time to relax, eat right, or exercise, do you? That's a misguided belief, because doing these things will actually give you more mental and physical energy, resulting in an ability to achieve more. You will make better decisions, feel less moody, and think more clearly.
In a study published in Psychological Bulletin, researchers analyzed 70 studies on exercise and fatigue involving more than 6,800 people.
"More than 90% of the studies showed the same thing: Sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved energy levels compared to groups that did not exercise," says Patrick O'Connor, a professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Georgia. "It's a very consistent effect. The results show that regular exercise increases energy and reduces fatigue."
So rather than sitting sedentary behind your computer for eight (or nine, or 10...) hours, use one of those hours for a good workout. Imagine, a nice run in the woods or a bit of time in the weight room actually being good for your business! Imagine feeling energy instead of fatigue. How much more could you get done in a day?
Adding five to 10 minutes of daily meditation to your exercise routine will compound the effect, offering greater clarity and peace of mind. If you believe you can't meditate, you're wrong. Anyone can meditate, because there are so many ways to do it. For instance, if your mind is always in overdrive, teach yourself to daydream. Imagine a beautiful, peaceful place, and create the feeling of actually being there and doing the things you love most. Or, let your brain relax and wander into daydreams while you mindlessly pull weeds in your garden for 10 minutes.
These simple acts are a form of meditation; although you are not stilling your mind, they offer a similar effect. If you are able to relax, let go of your worries, and imagine peace and tranquility, the answers to your problems will magically appear. As a bonus, mental exercises like these are also good for your heart and overall health.
How often do you skip meals? Or worse, grab a bag of chips to quiet your rumbling tummy?
"It is very important to maintain a normal blood sugar, and the best way to accomplish this is to eat every few hours," says Dr. Dan Benardot, a nutrition researcher and professor of nutrition at Georgia State University in Atlanta. "But don't overdo it," warns Benardot. "Overeating can be just as bad as starvation. Ingesting large quantities of food stimulates insulin production and the deposition of fat."
Keep healthful snacks readily available. Raw nuts, lean meats, and a moderate amount of fruit are easy to keep on hand. Snack in small amounts every two to three hours, and if you have to skip a proper meal on occasion, these energy snacks will keep the engine running.
Avoid the myth that self-sacrifice leads to greater productivity. It doesn't. In fact, it's entirely counterproductive.
Take time to be with the kids and play with the dog. Be kind to your body and mind. The rewards you receive in return will offer you a smooth ride to that dream destination!
Marla Tabaka is a small-business advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.