Photo: Jussi Ratilainen
Today’s guest post is written by the co-founders of You-app, Nelli Lähteenmäki, Aleksi Hoffman & Nora Rosendahl. You-app is a Batch 14 company that empowers users to become happier, healthier versions of themselves through daily micro-actions.
Entrepreneurship is the best profession. And the worst. And usually you can fit those two sentiments into one hour, any hour. For many, it’s the everyday stress and “busyness” (not the business) that wears us out over time.
As an entrepreneur you often cannot drastically change your working style or pace. We might be dreaming of nailing one of the infamous “4 weeks to the perfect beach body” or “Never feel the craving for sweets again” programs but the stats show very few people, entrepreneurs or not, succeed in them. Why? Because they are unrealistic. We at YOU-app have found that in entrepreneurship – like in life – it’s all about the small changes and habits you pick up. Very small changes can end up changing your day, week, month or life.
In this post, we’ll present the small actions (we call them “micro-actions”) that any entrepreneur should apply to keep his/her s*** together, even when the going gets tough.
Many days it feels like there’s just no time to fit in exercise. What our team does is 2-minute office workouts. Our favorite is the 2-minute plank, but we also do stretches, handstands, and squats.. drawing in all innocent bystanders around us. People may look at you funny, but your body and mind will thank you (and eventually even the office skeptics may join in)!
We just can’t say this enough. Sitting is killing your muscles. Think about this: If you stand 3 hours every workday for a year, in added energy use that equals ten marathons! No need to get a real standing desk – we use a pile of boxes or books. Start with 20 minutes and work your way up!
It’s hard to be productive when a beep, buzz or ping interrupts you every minute. This small action can have HUGE impact: Double the time between checking emails and see how it affects you. Make email-free time a habit, and start increasing that time so you always feel “barely comfortable”. Work Zen, delivered.
Do important, non-urgent tasks
Prioritization is everything. Some do it naturally, others struggle every day. Here’s a simple exercise: Draw a matrix with two sides – urgent/non-urgent and important/not important. Where are you? We often spend A LOT of time in the urgent-important bucket. The problem is the “urgent”: you’re firefighting, pushing deadlines, always behind. And you easily slip into the not important buckets… Every day, make sure you do one thing that’s important and NON-urgent – like relationship management, thinking time, feedback, etc. Your stress levels a few weeks from now will thank you.
We all know that afternoon slump around 3-4pm – even the most saintly of eaters fall victim to that low energy feeling and reach for the biscuit tin. A balanced, non-sugary snack helps keep your blood sugar levels in check, and you’ll stay alert and active for the rest of the working day. So set an alarm for when the snack attack usually hits and prepare a healthy pick-me-up!
Reach out to someone (not work related)
This simple action carries big results. Social connections are clearly proven to be one of the strongest determinants of happiness, but when life gets busy we tend to deprioritize them. We all have those friends or relatives we’ve been meaning to call but haven’t gotten to it. Make it an item on your to do list to reach out. No need to spend hours on the phone – just sending a smiley will cheer them and you up!
A word of caution: Don’t do it all at once. Pick one, try it consistently for a week, and feel the difference! If you like it, keep it up until it feels effortless. Then pick another.
That’s the “scientifically robust habit creation way”. Another approach for those of you who easily get bored is to pick one each day – the one that fits that particular day best (but set a reminder, otherwise you are 99% sure to forget). Because really – it’s your life, so do what fits you.
And remember: The small things do matter.
The YOU-app team