Starting a business can be a stressful experience. You don’t know if people will like your product or service. Is it something people really need? What about the competition? How do I hire the best talent? There is so much to do with so little resources that all these concerns can weigh you down, distract your focus and even cloud your judgment.
On the other hand, top executives in big companies, from Google to Goldman Sachs, are beginning to realize the importance of mindfulness to achieve their full potential. Worrying less about today’s problems and losing sleep over future obstacles can pave the way for mental as well as physical well-being, leading to better performance.
Mindfulness provides the clarity of thought, creative ideas and higher awareness required to make better decisions. It also alleviates the physical stress that stops you from giving your best. So how can it help entrepreneurs: the startups, small businesses and solopreneurs striking out on their own trying to change the world?
Here are 7 ways entrepreneurs can apply mindfulness to bring order to their chaotic lives and realize their dreams:
1. Don’t be a sleep hero
Running a business is like running a marathon. You need to be able to put in your best effort for weeks, if not months, together. If you don’t get adequate sleep, you’ll feel tired quickly and your startup will suffer.
Sure, you may pull the occasional all-nighter but ensure that you get a good 6-8 hours of sleep every night. You may have read mythical stories of successful entrepreneurs who sleep for just 4 hours a day. But understand that it’s only one side of the story. Such people often make this up later by sleeping for a long time.
Lack of sleep will affect your cognitive abilities – you won’t be able to think clearly and make important decisions. Go to bed early. Wake up early. If you feel tired or sleepy, take a quick nap.
Email is a great tool to communicate with people and grow your business, but it can hurt your productivity if you spend too much time on it.
Set aside a specific time (before you start your work, after lunch, or before you leave for the day) when you check your inbox everyday. Filter your mails into folders, prioritizing those that need to be answered the same day.
Also, avoid replying to all your emails. It’s wonderful to help others but not at the cost of your own focus and productivity.
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” – Alexander Graham Bell
3. Keep aside “Thinking time”
It’s easy to fall into a routine carrying out the day-to-day tasks required to run your business. Although it’s a good habit that helps you stay focused, you might miss the big picture if you don’t look at your business from a different perspective.
Devote at least an hour a week to thinking about the next steps, analyzing if you’re headed the right way and what can be done better. It’s essential to give your brain some space and time to explore creative ideas and discover the ‘Eureka’ moments.
4. Spend some time developing your beliefs
To drive your startup to greater heights, you need to truly believe in what you’re doing and know why you’re doing it. If not, you’ll get demotivated whenever you face an obstacle. In your life’s most challenging moments, it is only your belief that will pull you through.
As Steve Jobs said in his Stanford commencement speech, “I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Spend 15-30 minutes every week reminding yourself why you’re doing what you do. Write down a mission statement and keep it in your wallet. Read it whenever the going gets tough. It will help you calm down, and recharge yourself.
5. Regain your focus every morning
Focus isn’t about typing away at your laptop for hours, or spending all day in meetings. It’s a bigger commitment to yourself to see through a task and do everything it takes to make it happen.
Such focus is present with you at all times, even when you’re not working. It moulds your attitude, your way of thinking and even your approach to life. It guides you in the right direction and enables you to quickly spot and avoid distractions.
Spend some time every morning before work developing your focus through meditation or similar activities.
6. Avoid emotional decision-making
Don’t make decisions when you’re feeling super-high or low with anger, sadness, or anxious. Make these key decisions when you’re treading the middle path. Every business decision costs a lot of man-hours and money, so never hesitate to put off a decision until the next day unless you’re not feeling emotionally balanced about it.
7. Organize your office (and your mind)
Whether you have a proper office or just work from a laptop at cafes and parks, it’s essential to keep it tidy in order to be more productive. A well-organized and tidy office will not only help you get things done faster but also develop a space conducive for strategic, logical and creative thinking.
Start by decluttering your office space. Only keep things there related to your work such as books, files, office stationery, and laptops. Remove unnecessary items such as last week’s plates and relics that should probably be at your home.
Also, clear out extra stuff from your laptop and phone. Delete unused files and icons from your desktop, and remove unwanted apps from your smartphone.
“Eliminate physical clutter. More importantly, eliminate spiritual clutter.” – D.H. Mondfleur
These tips will enable you to channel your efforts in the right direction and avoid getting overwhelmed with the tasks at hand. Put aside some time every day to clear your mind and practice the above habits. Within 2-3 weeks, you’ll begin seeing results – an organized mind with a focused mindset to achieve its dreams. How do I know this? It has worked for me.