The startup world by definition is a chaotic roller coaster where you try to just hang on until the ride slows down. But the dirty little secret for 1st-timers is that the ride never slows down. After a few weeks/months/years you come to realize that you have to slow the ride down not only to survive but also to run your business more effectively.
As a leader, you have a choice to ride the roller coaster and let the coaster set your pace, or to get off the ride and you set your own pace. Taking back control will not only enable you to operate better but will send more positive office karma that will trickle down to your employees.
If you are tired of chasing the day and want to take back control, it is up to you to slow down your brain so that you can focus on the more important items. The best decisions, the best creativity and the best interactions take place when our brains are totally present.
Here are 7 daily habits that can help you be more present:
Set your daily goals the previous day. Most of us (me included) think about our goals for the day the morning of that day. At times, I have tried to set them the night before so that I can enter the next day without the burden of defining the day, which enables me to enter the day a little slower. Try it and see if it changes your daily approach.
Meditate in AM. So many are writing about the power of meditation. If you are skeptical then call it something different. I am pushing you to take 3-5 minutes with no outside stimuli and simply let your brain drift. The meditation trick is to focus on your breathing. By focusing inward you signal the brain to not process the business stuff.
Get out of the office/building--take a walk. Like a roller coaster, the ride seems to get faster and faster as daily momentum careens to the end of the day. Ever notice how you seem more focused early and not so much at the end of the day. Our brains are tired from the ride. So stop the ride. Remove yourself from your desk or office. Go take a walk and do not take your phone.
Push big decisions to the next day. By definition, big decisions should not be made in the moment. Big decisions dominate brain consumption. Consider pushing the big decisions to the next day and give the brain time to ruminate. My partner Dave and I almost laugh to each other when we are confronted with a big decision and one of us ends the conversations with, "lets do what we do with this decision and sleep on it".
Stop. Smile. Breathe. Smile again. As part of our investment program, we teach our founders how to pitch. Our favorite technique is to encourage the speaker to find that moment in their talk track to stop--smile--breathe--smile again, and then move on. This brings audience attention directly to you but there is an even greater benefit to the speaker. You provide your brain an opportunity to take a mini break. Try incorporating this into your day a couple times.
No back to back to back meetings. 3 meetings in a row are evil. I don't care who you are; being on for a couple hours in a row without a brain rest is just silly. Even the best find ways to create a break. You need to own this as a leader and it starts with you. Do not schedule 3 meetings back to back. Manage your calendar and schedule at least 30 minutes 2x daily to be by yourself without outside stimulation.
Use your commute for you. Most of us have some commute time (I have a 15 minute walk). It seems like this is a great time to hit the phones and to squeeze in just a little more work time. Fight that urge and take 20 minutes of your commute and dedicate it to you with no phone, no music--just you and your brain.
7 daily habits that will slow down your day, enable you to operate more effectively in the moment and signal to your employees that investing in you is well worth it.