Sometimes, you have to take a break before you realize how much you needed it.
My husband and co-founder, Dave, and I recently took a trip to Mongolia. Before we started ThirdLove and had kids, we used to do a lot of traveling--Africa, China, New Zealand, even Antarctica. So when our friend told us about the group they were getting together for the trip, we knew we couldn't pass it up.
Not only was the trip amazing, but the feeling we had when we got back was great. We were refreshed and recharged. Ready to dive back into our work and tackle any problems.
Everyone needs a break every now and then because it's difficult to stay on top of your game if you aren't giving yourself opportunities to think about something other than work.
Here's what I've learned over the years about recharging as a founder--both day-to-day and over the long-term:
1. Set aside time for a few enjoyable activities.
Life gets busy quickly, and it's very easy to get into the habit of doing whatever comes up that day.
Maybe you wanted to work out, but then you got caught up in clearing out your inbox. When you look up from your email, it's already dark out and you have no idea where the time went.
Instead of flying by the seat of your pants, schedule time for the activities you enjoy just like you'd schedule meetings at work. It doesn't matter if it's running, painting, or playing in a band--put it on your schedule and stick to it.
Whether it's something that relieves stress or feeds your creativity, making time for the things you're interested in will make you happier and more effective at work.
2. Choose one activity to maintain your health.
For me, working out has always been critical to staying balanced.
When I work out, I sleep better. And when I sleep better, I feel better all day long. It's also a good way to clear my mind and be inside my own head for a while. I'm not consciously thinking about work or all the different items that need my attention. I'm giving my brain some time to recuperate.
We're all wired a little differently, but it's obvious when a physical or mental activity makes you feel better afterward. So find at least one that improves your health, and schedule it into your week.
3. Make time for a change of pace and scenery.
Scheduling moments to recharge throughout the week is important. But breaking away from your daily routine and creating new experiences is crucial to maintaining your well-being and creativity in the long run.
On the way to Mongolia, for example, I read Jack Weatherford's Ghengis Kahn and the Making of the Modern World. While we were there, we were lucky enough to meet Weatherford in person. And one of his comments really stood out to me. He told us that no amount of books, photos, or movies can ever replace the experience of having your feet on the ground.
As far as technology has come, as much time as we spend looking at photos of beautiful locations on Instagram, nothing replaces the sensations of physically experiencing people, places, and moments.
Maybe international travel isn't feasible for you right now. But do what you can to take breaks or trips that shake up your schedule and put you in new, stimulating situations.
4. Take advantage of opportunities to learn and gain a new perspective.
When I get invited to attend a conference, I usually decline.
But last year I decided to go to a TED talk with Dave. We listened to Frances Frei, Uber's former Chief People Officer, speak about the importance of creating an environment of trust and diversity within a company. I came back from the talk with a fresh perspective and started thinking more about how to create the type of collaboration she spoke about. How do we communicate better? How do we increase transparency and build an environment where people know they can have open dialogues?
That experience taught me an important lesson: learning about a new topic and listening to different perspectives are chances to refresh the way you look at your company and your team.
We all need to recharge sometimes and hit the reset button. You don't have to travel halfway around the world to do it, but you do need to make it a part of your life if you want to stay productive, sane, and energized.