Entrepreneur Energy Hacks: Calendar
Let’s have a look at how entrepreneurs like you can hack your calendar for more energy. Have you ever participated in a first aid course or looked at the aircraft safety card while flying? The message is simple: you have to be safe and healthy in order to help someone else. If you don’t there will be 2 victims instead of one. Entrepreneurs are often guilty of putting their own wellbeing and energy levels low on their priority lists, resulting in burn out and constant fatigue.
Now that the debris and dust from the COVID-19 pandemic has settled, there are new realities for employees and entrepreneurs alike. Zippia reports:
- 63% of high-growth companies use a “productivity anywhere” hybrid work model.
- 59% of employees are more likely to choose an employer that offers remote work opportunities over one that doesn’t.
This new reality puts more pressure on entrepreneurs and their organizations. Pre-pandemic, telework was not nearly as prevalent as it is now. Many organizations worked remotely exclusively for 2 years, or more in some cases. In fact, some labor organizations have added remote work to their contract negotiations. Employees see this as a benefit, but what about entrepreneurs?
Laptop is the office
The flexibility and convenience of working from home has appeal, however it has resulted in some unwanted side-effects. The habit of converting commute time into added work time when working remotely added extra hours to the work week. Assuming a 30-minute commute each way, that adds another 5 hours. Then there are all the little, “I have an idea” or other “little tasks” that sneak into the work day when working from home. As a result, they add to work hours as well.
The lack of physical boundaries working remotely also contributes to blurred mental boundary lines as well. Entrepreneurs became used to completing much more work at home, and maintained those habits when they returned to the office. This is leading to higher levels of burnout than ever before.
Entrepreneurs want to be super heroes
Any online search will give you plenty of great suggestions to improve your personal organization, raise work output levels, and keep you on track. All can be useful, but they ignore the main issue – work from home habits. Yes, that modified routine, blurred boundaries and the “convenience” of working from anywhere at any time are the main issues. Sixty+ hour work weeks are simply not nearly as productive as most entrepreneurs think. University of South Australia researchers Natalie Skinner and Jill Dorrian published a paper on work-life balance and fatigue. The table below illustrates clearly how overwork affects us.
65% of survey participants say fatigue affects mood
Aspects of life perceived to be affected by fatigue, by work hours and gender, %
|Personal domain||Work domain|
|Mood at home||65.7||Productivity||45.7|
|Physical health||55.3||Job satisfaction||45.7|
|Family life||55.8||Quality of work||40.1|
|Social life||55.6||Safety travelling to/from work||25.1|
|Hobbies/interests||56.3||Safety at work||15.0|
This table clearly illustrates how fatigue affects us in our lives. Notably, over 65% of study participants cite fatigue as the main reason their moods at home are affected. These statistics are eye-opening.
Work is my life
Ever heard that statement? For the few that truly have no lives outside of work, there is still a performance issue. Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy’s article in the Harvard Business Review addresses the issue further by focusing on the importance of energy levels through the day. Tailoring your schedule around those energy levels is key. They say:
“Defined in physics as the capacity to work, energy comes from four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. In each, energy can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed by establishing specific rituals—behaviors that are intentionally practiced and precisely scheduled, with the goal of making them unconscious and automatic as quickly as possible.”
They say it is important that people “need to recognize the costs of energy-depleting behaviors and then take responsibility for changing them, regardless of the circumstances they’re facing.”
Hack your calendar
Our calendars organize our workdays. Most don’t book time for themselves for self care or to prepare for mentally strenuous tasks. Like working out, running or any physical activity, some sort of preparation is needed. Self-care is critical and ignored too much these days. Build that into your calendar as well. How do we make this work? Here’s an example:
Tomorrow mid-afternoon a long, mentally taxing meeting is scheduled.
- Make an appointment with yourself late morning to go outside for a walk to relax your mind and get your blood circulation up.
- Eat a healthy lunch – junk food burns fast and gives a glycemic crash Harvard has a great article for more information
- Take a couple of minutes before the meeting to stretch and mentally prepare
Many are surprised at how much additional energy magically appears during the day when they book and keep appointments with themselves to recharge their batteries.
Pay attention to your body’s needs and rhythms
Understanding your individual needs (not the narrative we sometimes tell ourselves) for sleep, time of day you are most productive, and importantly how much sleep you need to wake up feeling fully refreshed. See how sleep was mentioned twice in this paragraph? It’s important.
Time is money!
Keep a personal log to understand your unique needs. This will give insight into what you currently do and details where your precious time is spent. Treat your time like gold and stop wasting it. The journal will identify where you time is spent and help you build your calendar around your most productive times. Also note your energy or concentration levels and use the off-peak productive times for less mentally taxing tasks like replying to email or simple administrative duties,
Dwight D figured it out
The Eisenhower Matrix (also known as the Urgent-Important matrix) helps you prioritize tasks by urgency and importance. Dwight D. Eisenhower invented the world-famous Eisenhower principle during his long US military career and time as the 34th President of the USA. Urgency and importance result in 4 quadrants with different strategies:
There are many templates for all platforms you can download and use this tool right away. It is surprising how easily this process can be adapted into preparing your day quickly.
Work-life integration and creativity
What happened to work/life balance? Entrepreneurs are a special breed where brilliant ideas meet vision and high-level concepts. These inspirations can come at any time, are not confined to regular work hours, and often follow your body’s energy cycles.
Instead of rigid constraints and trying to separate work and personal time, the premise is accepting these must work in harmony. Fighting for work/life balance will always be a losing struggle and a waste of valuable energy. Creating guidelines allows you to regulate, focus these times and use that momentum for inspiration. If you want to see how much time (and energy) is burned through the day, log everything you do related to work. This is only for you, so be honest with yourself and track EVERYTHING.
Time blocking your calendar provides great insight and organizes your time. Clockify.me has a good blog post on time blocking that breaks it all down. This process adds predictability and flexibility to your day and helps minimize the 10-15 minute, “I just need one minute” conversations or distractions.
Be sure to accommodate and schedule time for creativity! That is one of the top attributes of successful entrepreneurs. Make plenty of time, preferably in an inspiring place (not at your desk where you complete work) that allows you to let your imagination run free and innovate.
Final Entrepreneur Energy Hacks: Calendar Thought
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