Most business owners spend so much time taking care of their businesses, they rarely have time to take care of themselves. Open up any social media app and you’ll find yourself bombarded with tips on how to live your healthiest life, from alternative milk to workouts to relationships. While having all of this advice at your fingertips can be useful, it can also feel overwhelming for entrepreneurs on a time crunch.
But if you need to prioritize your wellbeing and your business, where should you start?
Here are five habits highly effective entrepreneurs practice to protect their energy, their work, and their wellbeing for a stronger business – and a healthier self.
Read for Self-Improvement
Devoting 30 minutes or more each day to education or self-improvement through reading is worth the effort.
Want proof? Books expose kids to 50 percent more words than TV, or even a conversation between college graduates, according to a study from the University of California, Berkeley. Exposure to that new vocabulary also leads to higher scores on general tests of intelligence.
Not only does reading regularly help make you smarter, but it can actually increase your brain power. Just like going for a jog exercises your cardiovascular system, reading regularly improves memory function by giving your brain a workout.
According to research published in Neurology, regular reading helps slow the process of brain function decline that comes with age, keeping minds sharper longer. In fact, frequent brain exercise can lower mental decline by 32 percent, reports The Huffington Post.
Not feeling nonfiction? Enjoying a good novel helps too. Science shows that reading for pleasure boosts both your career and empathy levels.
Make Exercise a Priority
Working out regularly clears your head and makes you feel more motivated, studies show. Carve out 30 minutes for aerobic exercise like jogging, biking, or walking each day.
Exercise increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the release of the hormones that provide an excellent environment for the growth of brain cells. Regular exercise promotes brain plasticity by stimulating growth of new connections between cells in many important cortical areas of the brain. Research from the University of California, Los Angeles has demonstrated that exercise increases growth factors in the brain that make it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections.
From a more feel-good perspective, the same antidepressant-like effects associated with a “runner’s high” has been correlated with a drop in stress hormones. This study from Stockholm shows that the antidepressant effect of running is also associated with more cell growth in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
Spend Time around People Who Inspire You
Be choosy about who you spend your time with. Successful people make a point to limit their exposure to toxic, negative people.
We are only as successful as those we surround ourselves with. That’s why connecting and networking with other entrepreneurs can help us grow, in knowledge and in business. A supportive network can strengthen and support your role in the world.
Connecting with other entrepreneurs can be beneficial in many ways:
- Learning from others
- Facing challenges together
- Supporting each other
- Helping us find people we can buy from or get referrals from
- Bouncing ideas off each other to stimulate creativity
- Inspiring and motivating one another
If you don’t have highly-motivated people in your personal network yet, join a local group for business owners to meet other positive, dedicated individuals!
Write Your Goals Down
Vividly describing your goals in writing is strongly associated with goal success. Studies show that people who vividly describe or picture their goals are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than those who don’t. That’s a pretty big difference in goal achievement just from writing your goals down on paper!
Writing things down doesn’t just help you remember important information, it makes your mind more efficient by helping you focus on what’s truly important. And your goals should absolutely qualify as truly important information.
Refer to your daily and long-term goals regularly. Identify your dreams, draft up a plan, and tackle it one step at a time! Got a few gray areas? Ask your network for advice!
Get Plenty of Sleep.
Many people equate losing sleep with having more time to enjoy the day or to get things done. Ironically, when we are sleep deprived, we enjoy the day less and are so unfocused that we are much slower in getting things done.
Mounting evidence suggests that a good night’s sleep significantly boosts productivity. One study of 4,188 U.S. workers found “significantly worse productivity, performance, and safety outcomes” among those who slept less, and estimated almost a $2,000 loss in productivity per worker due to poor sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. In order to make sleep a priority, you should schedule sleep like any other daily activity, so put it on your to-do list and cross it off every night.
Outsource Where You Can
Money isn’t the most important resource for the wealthy – it’s actually time. When we invest our time in anything, it’s lost forever. Be choosy about what you choose to do for yourself and your business, and find experts who can help you out in the areas you don’t have time for, like social media marketing or payroll.
Most outsourced tasks are time-consuming. By passing these off, you can fully attend to your core business processes. Outsourcing also allows you to tap into external talent for high-quality work without any personal stress.
It’s also a great way to gain access to resources you wouldn’t otherwise have access to, as most marketing companies have their own subscriptions to costly social media management platforms, stock photo memberships, and essential software. This is a huge cost-saver, and incredibly helpful when your company is experiencing internal resource crunches.