It has been a turbulent summer of sorts for many of us, with the political unrest, stock market volatility and crazy, dangerous weather. I've been dealing with my own unique stress, reflecting on my anniversary escaping Hurricane Katrina, selling my popular app Cuddlr and transitioning out of a 3 am daily work routine.
So, one day recently, I just got up from my computer, left the house and started walking. Probably about four miles that day.
I've always loved walking, particularly when I lived in the heart of San Francisco, where it would be a rare day when I didn't walk to tech functions throughout the evening (the city is seven by seven miles, so walking everywhere isn't an unrealistic accomplishment). I then moved to Southern California in which most cities, unlike New York, Chicago and D.C., aren't conducive to walking everywhere. I also started a family, and those hours spent walking-or hours spent doing anything-seemed as impractical as they seemed wasteful. But now I'm taking the time to walk, whether it be in the morning or in the night, as I'm realizing it is how I clear my mind and how I process my day. It has been like a meditation, though many of us who do walk regularly may not even realize the positive impact it has on our mental balance.
Walking for clarity isn't a revolutionary idea (I promise this isn't a "Columbusing" attempt). According to The Last Great Walk author Wayne Curtis, the health benefits of regular walking came into view about a century ago-particularly when it came to keeping ourselves young.
What is new is that entrepreneurs are actually starting to value it. Consultant Nilofer Merchant has a short, excellent TED talk on why business people should take walking seriously. As we spend more time on tech and less time taking care of ourselves, I tend to agree.
Here's how you can incorporate walking into your daily entrepreneurial life:
Do walking meetings: Walking can be an excellent time to take conference calls, especially those that have you mostly on mute. If you are fortunate enough to work near your colleagues, take them with you on a brief jaunt. It may help you work out knotty ideas or even ease the tension of a particularly sensitive conversation-Steve Jobs famously had his most important discussions on his feet.
Get smart: It is also a great opportunity to listen to business books or, on the free side, to podcasts. I now listen to Startup, Will Lucas Of10 and other favorite entrepreneurial podcasts almost exclusively during my walks. It not only makes the time more valuable, but it assuages any guilt that I'm out of the office.
Keep it brief: A walk doesn't have to be an extreme, epic journey-it could be walking to a farther coffee shop for your morning drink or spending an extra 10 minutes taking the long way to lunch. You can look at the additional time as a brief reprieve from the constant device buzz.
Track your walks: If you're into measurable results, consider utilizing a wearable, whether it be a FitBit or Apple Watch, or an old-school pedometer. The ability to see how many steps or miles you've walked can help encourage you to keep going and, perhaps, walk even further the next time you go out.
How often do you leave the office and just take a walk?