As a small business owner, your business relies on your health and energy level. If you start to falter, your business will, too. How can you keep your energy and productivity levels up when the demands on your time are never-ending? Here are tips to help keep you invigorated all day long.
7 Productivity Tips to Stay Energized All Day
Get enough sleep
Getting enough Z’s is easier said than done for a small business owner, but you simply must make time to rejuvenate—studies have linked getting fewer than 6 hours of sleep a night to a host of health problems, including greater risk of diabetes and heart disease. Figure out how you can delegate or eliminate tasks that keep you up at night. Check out these 12 tips for getting better sleep from entrepreneur Arianna Huffington, whose new book The Sleep Revolution promotes the importance of adequate sleep for improved productivity.
Do you regularly skip breakfast? Are you too busy to grab lunch? Bad idea. Eating smaller meals and healthy snacks on a regular schedule ensures your blood sugar (and energy levels) stay stable and helps you maximize productivity. It also keeps you from getting so hungry that you head to the nearest vending machine or fast-food drive-thru. Eat mostly lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains; cut back on sugar and processed foods, which make you sluggish. Small snacks that combine protein and fiber will fill you up without weighing you down.
Often, what seems like fatigue or hunger is just dehydration. Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, and next time you feel tired, try downing a glass to see if that helps. Avoid (or at least limit your intake of) alcohol—it’s dehydrating. If plain water is too boring, add lemon, lime, or cucumber slices to give it some flavor. Need caffeine? If you must drink coffee or tea, balance out their dehydrating effects by drinking an equal amount of water.
Ever notice when you grind on and on at work for hours, you get less productive and more distracted? It’s not your imagination. Keep your energy high by taking regular short breaks throughout the day. The Pomodoro Technique, which alternates 25-minute stretches of work with 5-minute breaks, is a well-known system for doing this, but you can also create your own system by setting a work break timer on your phone or computer to remind you when to get up, move around, and/or do some stretches.
Find a way to fit in a regular fitness routine, whether it’s walking, running, Pilates, or hitting the gym. You don’t have to be an Ironman to benefit, either—even moderate exercise has health benefits that positively impact your energy level. Experiments by Robert Thayer, Ph.D., of California State University showed taking a brisk 10-minute walk boosted subjects’ energy for up to two hours afterwards. That makes taking a quick walk a great option for your breaks. You can combine walking with work by walking around and talking to employees or holding “walking meetings.”
Sure, some stress is good and keeps us energized, but too much stress on an ongoing basis saps your energy levels. Figure out what your biggest stressors are, and develop a plan to tame them. That can mean delegating responsibilities, changing how you run your business, or even saying so long to that client who gives you heartburn. Meditation, prayer, and finding a sounding board—whether that’s a board of advisors, a friend or family member—can also help ease your stress.
Mix it up
Variety is the spice of life—and business. Doing the same thing all day can steal your energy, so change your routine whenever possible. For instance, if you’ve been in meetings all morning, take some quiet time in the afternoon to focus on a project that needs your full attention. Or, if you’ve been staring at Excel spreadsheets all day, going to lunch or dinner with a colleague should hopefully energize you.