It’s 7:30 a.m. and your alarm is blaring. Squinty-eyed, you reach for your phone, fumbling to swipe that horrible noise off, sinking back into the mattress, your eyes fading to black again… until you shoot straight up, eyes wide open, realizing you’ve already pushed snooze three times. You’re late. So you bolt out from under the covers and, like a blur, get dressed and go to work.
You’re at the office (finally), and a million emails have rudely generated in your inbox, so you start shooting off responses, only to reply to the ones that come back seconds later. You only get up when nature calls and your stomach yells for food. Another blur and it’s already dark. Time to climb back under the covers…
Sleep, wake up, work. And repeat. That’s a daily grind that will have you burning out the next time your alarm goes off. There’s more to life than work. How can you make sure you’re getting a healthy dose of “me time”?
We asked the Young Entrepreneur Council, “What is one thing you can do every day to take care of yourself, before your work?” to find out.
Focusing on work is a great excuse for not taking care of yourself. I have set specific time slots where I won’t work and will instead spend time on my family and me. These slots are first thing in the morning (before 8 a.m.) and dinnertime (5 to 8 p.m.). Except for events I must attend, these slots are sacred times for me to spend with my family and not work. Setting this up has been life-changing.
I start every morning with a short 5–10-minute meditation using an app called Beditations. The meditation helps me visualize the things I’m most grateful for and allows me to minimize negativity and distractions. I find that early morning meditation increases my self-awareness and helps me put into perspective what really matters. I also tend to be much more positive, energetic and happy.
3. Work out.
I get up early most mornings and head to a free, outside workout called F3. Aside from obvious health benefits, it clears my mind and gets me in touch with the outdoors and in the company of good friends to start the day.
The scientific benefits of sleep are innumerable. More sleep equates to more happiness, better health and improved decision-making. Not to mention that it detoxes the brain. In order to do your best work, it’s critical to consistently recharge your batteries.
It sounds silly, random even, but this is something I’ve done every day that has dramatically reduced my stress while simultaneously opening my mind to many details in the world and opportunities that I would not have otherwise noticed. Start your day by writing a poem—even something as simple as a haiku.
Life is very busy. My journal is in bullet-form so I can jot down things I did, people I met, how I felt, etc. It’s been a great outlet to help me be present, remember the little moments and sort out challenges in both my personal and professional life.
Your friends and family are your biggest supporters. Even if you are having a very stressful and busy day, pick up the phone for a few minutes just to say hi to Mom or your best friend, and just talk about the good things that are happening in their lives. It will keep you grounded.
It’s not unusual for me to answer 10 to 15 emails before even getting out of bed in the morning. But starting the day off like this often sets a negative tone for the day, and truthfully most issues can wait. I’m learning that I’m much happier when I take 30 to 45 minutes to wake up slowly and shower before checking email.
Refresh your mind by taking an afternoon break from your workflow and escaping to another world. Reading fictional stories stimulates the right side of your brain, sparking creative thought. That stimulation can make your day go a little smoother by thinking differently, solving problems in abstract ways and, most importantly, rejuvenating your soul.
10. Do yoga.
I have always been a very active person. I played water polo, swam, surfed, tried every sport out there. But in the last few years I started doing yoga a few days a week and it has changed my life. It’s the only place my phone is completely off and my mind is focused on myself only—no clients, employees or projects. It’s the easiest way to reset your mind and body in 60 minutes.
I find that one of the best practices to get fresh air and stimulate my brain is simply to take a walk and listen to a podcast with the podcast app that now comes standard on the iPhone. Do yourself a favor and listen to something non-business-related. For a little health or mindfulness, my favorites are Bulletproof Radio and Buddhist Geeks.
When you put yourself on your schedule, you won’t have meetings and appointments that prevent you from taking care of yourself. I prefer to put myself as my first appointment of the day to make sure I don’t get caught up in the day and decide to skip out on important things that keep me grounded, like exercise and meditation.
Before becoming a father, I would have given an answer like many others: workout, meditate, yoga, etc. These are all exceptional ways to nurture yourself. After becoming a father, the greatest joy I can experience is playing with my children. It’s like taking that deep refreshing breath of sea air after a hard workout, but better.