December 24, 2015
Sometimes all it takes to change your life (or your business) is a few small tweaks. And while change can be hard (even when it’s small), it’s worth it so long as you keep your eye on the prize. In the case of these life hacks, making some relatively minor shifts to your daytime routine can yield big payoffs in the form of increased productivity, better communication skills, improved creativity, and greater confidence and leadership abilities. Sound good? Here’s how to get started.
Move Your Desk Near a Window
Research from Northwestern University found that exposure to light during the workday improves productivity, creativity, mental and physical health, and overall quality of life. That’s because daylight exposure strongly influences our circadian rhythms, which are responsible for regulating our bodies’ sleep-wake cycles. When circadian rhythms get out of whack, we’re more likely to feel fatigued, depressed, anxious, and/or physically unhealthy.
The connection to entrepreneurship is obvious: If you’re tired, depressed, and unwell, you’re simply not going to have the stamina required to be an effective businessperson. The good news is that the antidote is as simple as working near natural light. If you can’t afford an office with a window, make a point of taking walks outside throughout the day. You may also want to consider investing in a lightbox, which can help mimic exposure to natural light.
Adopt a Reading Habit
It’s cheap, relaxing, and great for your business acumen. Research consistently finds that reading helps keep our brains healthy and prevents cognitive decline. Reading books on a regular basis also improves one’s ability to empathize with other people, which can make you a better boss, coworker, salesperson, and all-around representative for your business. As if that’s not enough, reading for just a few minutes has also been shown to effectively reduce stress—and that’s something from which any entrepreneur can benefit.
We all know that smoking is bad for our physical health, but it can also undermine our well-being in sneakier ways. For example, smoking can cause snoring and increase your risk of respiratory issues—both of which will interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation, in turn, is linked to all kinds of issues at work, from decreased productivity, to an inability to concentrate, lapses in memory, and a tendency to snap at coworkers. In contrast, getting high-quality sleep on a regular basis can improve cognitive capacity, increase productivity, and help prevent burnout. So no more excuses: It’s time to ditch the butts.
Buy Some Plants
This might be the easiest entry on this list: Take an hour out of your day to go buy some plants (especially flowers) and place them around your workspace. Research consistently finds that exposure to flora in the workplace can improve creativity and problem-solving, boost morale, improve learning by giving our memory-making capacities a boost, reduce anxiety, negativity, and depression, and increase energy and enthusiasm at work. Reaping these benefits is easy: Just keep live plants and fresh flowers on or near your desk and in the rooms in which you and your employees spend the most time.
Change Your Self-Talk
Whether they’re aware of it or not, most people maintain a constant internal monologue—and most of the time, that voice has pretty critical things to say. This can be especially true for entrepreneurs, who are constantly subject to doubt and uncertainty in the quest for innovation. But adding some positivity to your self-talk is a great way to improve your confidence in your own capabilities and decisions, thereby strengthening your leadership abilities.
Whenever you notice that you’re internally beating up on yourself, try hitting the proverbial “pause” button. Then aim to do away with the negativity and instead talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend—assuming you’re not a terrible person, odds are good that you’ll have affirmative things to say. Emphasize your strong points and reframe doubt as possibility; for example, “I’m not going to land this investor” can change to “I have a shot at landing this investor, and here’s how I’m going to give it my all.” Also be sure to acknowledge your own strengths and take the time to celebrate successes. By developing more affirmative self-talk, you’ll improve your willingness to take risks, become a better advocate for your own decisions, and develop greater confidence overall.
Think of each of the habits on this list as a small but mighty addition to your arsenal of entrepreneurial tools. Stick with them, and they’ll serve you now and for a long time to come.
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