Every stage of startup—from renting your first office space to hiring your 100th employee—can be stressful and overwhelming. You may be tempted to push your personal needs to the back burner for the sake of the company, but if you don’t keep your body and mind functioning at peak levels, your business will suffer. So how can you keep your body, mind and business running like clockwork?
Simply Eat Well
Everyone knows that a healthy diet is important, but that doesn’t always mean we eat well. Sometimes it seems like too much work, especially on top of everything else we need to do, but there are some easy ways to sneak in healthy eating habits.
1. Eat breakfast. I used to make the excuse that I didn’t have time for breakfast, but I ended up exhausted and irritable by 11 a.m. and would down countless cups of coffee just to stay awake. Finally, I committed to eating a healthy breakfast every day, and everything changed. A good breakfast protected me from energy crashes and caffeine jitters, making my time at work substantially more productive. I’m much more focused now, which allows me to spend more time on work that will create long-term growth and less time frantically answering calls, responding to trivial requests, and worrying about nonsense. There’s no question that being mentally sharp and focusing on high-priority projects has had a huge impact on my company’s sales.
2. Enjoy your lunch. Many professionals are so busy that they rush through lunch at their desks or skip it altogether. But lunch is about so much more than a turkey sandwich. It’s about taking a break, refueling your mind and body, and connecting with others. When you step away from your desk and eat with other people, you engage in conversation and strengthen relationships. Colleagues who eat lunch together connect on a human level, which strengthens the company while allowing everyone to return to work refreshed and ready to tackle problems.
3. Drink water. Water is the most essential, most overlooked nutrient for the human body. It doesn’t matter if it comes from a bottle or is filtered tap water—just drink more of it. Drink it at your desk throughout the day instead of more coffee or soda; you’ll feel much better.
Work in a Workout
Pick an exercise you like, and then do it religiously. This requires more of your time, but the rewards are huge. Exercise forces your mind away from regular thoughts and stress, and will help you return to tasks with a fresh perspective and renewed clarity. This is also a great way to set goals and achieve them. Meeting goals and seeing progress in your personal life will boost your confidence and build momentum for your professional life. For those days you simply can’t make it to the gym, there are a few easy ways you can take care of your body while you’re working:
1. Make walking calls. Write a list of calls you have to make, and walk around while you’re on the phone. If it’s nice out, get some fresh air while you’re at it. This gets you moving, and you’ll likely have more productive and enjoyable calls.
2. Stretch. Set an alarm for every hour or two, and spend 10 seconds reaching up to the sky. This promotes healthy blood flow and keeps you alert.
3. Fix your posture. Don’t be a hunchback. Push your shoulders back and pretend you have a balloon pulling your head up. If possible, use a monitor at eye level so you’re looking straight ahead, not down.
4. Sit on an exercise ball. This keeps you awake and focused. The ball makes you balance—but not to the point of discomfort or distraction—and helps strengthen your core.
The contrast between leading meetings when I’ve taken care of myself versus when I’ve skipped runs or eaten poorly are astounding. On bad days, I’m less effective, but on good days, I push the conversation forward, create game plans, challenge others and make progress on our big-picture goals. As a leader, it’s especially important to consistently feel energized because you set the tone for your team. The more diligent you are, the better you will feel, and the more benefits you’ll see. It can be hard to make these changes at first, but you wouldn’t have become an entrepreneur if you weren’t up for a challenge.
Phil Dumontet is the founder and CEO of DASHED, the leading restaurant delivery service in the Northeast. In 2013, DASHED was recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S., ranking #119 nationwide and #7 in Massachusetts on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 500|5000 list. Phil prides himself on the company’s unique partnerships with higher-end restaurants, as well as their efforts to keep delivery green and eco-friendly. He is also a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
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