Hustle is important, but entrepreneurs are humans, not robots. Breaks, downtime and recuperation are key to staying hyper-focused over the long haul. Time-management titans and members of The Oracles share their top tips for using downtime to up your business game.
1. Get away
I always ask the real estate agents I coach to identify their "Why": their real, genuine motivation for working hard every day. Nothing reminds me of my "Why" more than getting away for a family vacation.
Too many businesspeople don't prioritize vacation time. I put it on my calendar first. You've got to reserve that time to revive yourself and recharge your batteries.
Fishing with my boys or watching a tropical sunset with my wife: that's the embodiment of my personal "Why." Consequently, I return to work refreshed, motivated, and full of passion. My advice: Take your family vacations!
2. Renew your obsession
I sleep eight hours a night, make "family time" part of my daily schedule and take short breaks when needed. Any "break" should refresh you enough to return to work stronger.
That said, it's popular to believe you need two weeks' vacation to relax and unplug. I've been on vacations that took more energy than work itself! The point of getting away is to rejuvenate your mind, body, and purpose. But most people aren't in a position to take a long enough vacation to unwind properly.
So, get full-tilt re-obsessed with your purpose, achieving your potential and making a monster contribution to the world. That way, you'll naturally regenerate and create energy.
3. Explore your "inner domain"
Not taking the time to explore what I call the "inner domain" is perhaps the greatest challenge top leaders face today. Elite Navy SEALs often take time to reflect on their lives, visualize their craft, or study a sacred text (like "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius) to develop internal peace of mind and focus, which fuels their performance wins.
My favorite downtime tool is a simple practice called box breathing, which we teach in my Unbeatable Mind training. Inhale through your nostrils for a slow four count, hold your breath with a lifting feeling for another four count, exhale slowly four counts, and hold the exhale for a final four count. My challenge to you: Box breathe for a week, and experience new levels of stress-free mental clarity.
4. Broaden your horizons
I use an arsenal of "rest hacks" that broaden my horizons and energize my spirit. If I go out for a lunch break, I invite someone who may teach me something. When taking a road trip, I listen to podcasts, so my time is not idle. The point is, downtime doesn't necessarily mean going into mind-jelly mode on Netflix for uncountable wasted hours. Instead, it can be enriching.
Also, nothing rejuvenates the mind and soul more than making an impact! This year, I plan to coach Silicon Valley Girls on the Run and help young women reach their running dreams.
5. Use airplane mode
I get much of my work done in transit while waiting in airports and sitting on planes. If I'm standing in line, returning short emails is all that I'm capable of. But when I'm trapped in an airplane seat for hours, I can dig in and get some real productive work done.
I tend to do some of my best strategic thinking and make many of my investment decisions in the air. I even wrote the content for my audio podcast, "The Startup Hero," on my iPhone, a mile high.
6. Incorporate simple daily self-care rituals
Success is irrelevant without happiness. It's one of the most amazing times in history right now for technology, knowledge, and "connectability." But most people are miserable.
Last year was the single most successful year of my life, yet I was somehow unhappy. Over the years, I had gradually forgotten the importance of self-care.
That's where simple, daily rituals can be game-changing. Consistency is key to success in anything, including happiness, so choose a ritual you can stick to daily. I use anything from cryotherapy and Animal Flow, to Wim Hof breath work.
If you're just starting out, Tim Ferriss has five simple rituals that anyone can incorporate.
—Nafisé Nina Hodjat, founder and managing attorney of The SLS Firm
7. Find a relaxing, repetitive activity
Find a relaxing, methodical physical activity that takes your focus away from thinking about your business. My two favorites are fishing and golf. They require mental and physical energy yet are simultaneously relaxing.
Build your business library with a canon of work that you can read and re-read. Re-reading a favorite book can be meditative and sharpen your mental focus.
Taking Sundays off has always been beneficial to allow me to rejuvenate, recover, and get ready for the next week. By finding relaxing activities and slowing down, you can avoid burnout and operate at your peak.
8. Take a power break
My secret weapon for keeping my mind hyper-focused is exercise. When I hit the wall, I take a power break. I run an hour inside with 180-degree views of the ocean and mountains, followed by 30 minutes of kundalini tantra yoga. This routine gives me the rocket fuel to execute goals.
Running is an exceptional investment because it produces gamma brainwaves, the brain's peak performance state, and builds gray matter, improving memory. It also boosts neuroplasticity, the brain's capacity to reorganize and form new connections.
By taking a "power break," you can achieve relentlessly focused attention, a wellspring of creativity, and an inexhaustible mindset.
9. Make weekends sacred
My weekends are sacred and dedicated exclusively to my family, which allows me to take a much-needed break and free my mind of all the week's clutter. With a clear mind, I see things more objectively and get some of my best ideas.
During weekdays, I use my lunchtime to increase my professional knowledge and skillset. I research chemical compositions on Wikipedia and keep up to date with new drug discoveries. I spend time browsing Investopedia, enhancing my financial literacy.
By keeping weekends sacred and using downtime to re-invest in my greater goals, I've found success in business and most importantly, improved my mental health.
10. Spend quality time with family
Quality time with family is a must. Recharging the home-life battery helps each member of my family work together when we aren't physically together. It gives us the chance to review our respective plans and get on the same page.
For instance, recent business travel brought me to China. Because the family was connected and fully "invested" in one another during downtime, we were all "invested" as a team in the business success of my trip. Meanwhile, I was in tune with their schedules and could hear about their plans while we were apart.
11. Don't forget the fun
When I meet the Big Man in the sky someday, I'm never going to say, "S***, I wish I had spent more time at the office." One of the major reasons why I'm an entrepreneur is because I don't have to punch a clock.
One thing that gives me the most joy on the weekends is attending my son's soccer or basketball games, which I rarely miss. It's fun, charges me up for the week, and relaxes me — unless it's a close game! And nothing beats a good Saturday afternoon nap.
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