This is part 3 of a series of guest posts from Susanna Halonen, coach and inspirational speaker at Happyologist. If you missed Susanna’s previous posts on Letting your passion drive your happy startup and Building an authentic brand that’s you from the start, make sure you check them out.
Creating positive work habits as an entrepreneur
You’ve discovered your dream startup idea and you’ve made the start happen. You’re so excited by your work & the things you get to do that you don’t ever want to stop! You stop having time to socialise, exercise, or get a good night’s sleep. You keep telling yourself it’s temporary. Sound familiar?
This is not the way to begin your startup journey. From page one, you should be implementing positive working habits which make you more productive, energised and motivated. The sooner you put them in place, the easier it will be to stick with them. It’s not about having the quickest computer, the biggest screen, the comfiest chair – though all of these help – but about creating a routine that works together with how your body works naturally.
The reality is we’ve created lifestyles and societies which fuel routines and environments that don’t enable our bodies and minds to be at our best. But the good news is you have the power to change that. It’s not easy but it’s about starting with small, feasible changes.
So what are these positive working habits like? They fall into three categories: building a good routine, eating nutritiously and switching off.
Building a good routine
These are the top productivity tips science has shown work best for your body and mind.
1. Wake up at dawn. Or at least early. Our cortisol levels are naturally high at daybreak and gradually go down for the rest of the day. This means our productivity is at its best when we wake up. This doesn’t mean if you’re a night owl that you can’t work at night. It just means it’s harder for your body to work at it’s best at night because it’s not natural.
2. Start the day with 30-60 mins of vigorous intensive exercise. This will set you up for an alert mind. After exercise, you can start the day with your most challenging brain activity as this is when your thinking power is at its best.
3. Take a 20 second break every 20 mins sitting at your desk to move and stretch. Research has shown sitting for long periods at your desk cancels out the benefits from your 1 hour workout. Our bodies are designed to be active, not to sit at our desk. The more movement, the better.
What you put into your body also affects the energy you have. Scientific research has suggested these are the eating habits which your body naturally thrives on.
1. Eat a Mediterranean diet. Vegetables, fruits, cereals and fish. Our bodies can digest red meat healthily if we only eat it once every 2 weeks! Fish with its Omega-3 qualities is much more nutritious for you.
2. Eat enough healthy carbohydrates. The less processed the better. Think wholewheat, wild rice and so on. You’re happier and less angry on a good carbohydrate diet than on a high protein diet.
3. Replace sweets with 70%+ dark chocolate to increase antioxidants and optimise thinking power. The ideal intake amount is around 150g/month. Sweet cravings can be the hardest to deal with but once you re-train your body that processed sugar is not needed, it will stop craving it.
Last but not least, a key part of being productive is about being able to detach yourself from work and relax.
1. Disengage at the end of your day. Do something completely different from your work that helps you relax. Like going for a walk, cooking a nice meal or reading a good book.
2. Connect with nature. Going for walks in nature or simply taking time to be in nature increases your creativity and boosts your health.
3. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. More or less than that will negatively affect your performance. Sleep in a completely blacked out room with no light pollution (like street lights) but ensure when the sun rises, the light comes into your room. Light alarm clocks can help with this.
Now it’s your time for you to act! Pick one habit from each section that you would like to start practicing this week. Focus on getting these habits in place before you move on to the rest of them. Good luck!
Susanna from Happyologist offers one-to-one coaching, group workshops and inspirational talks to help you find your happiness and fulfil your potential. For more tips and to sign-up to a free weekly happiness newsletter, visit her website: Happyologist.co.uk