How to Successfully Not Ruin Your Life or Burn Down the Business
If you have been, or are currently a part of a startup, you know all too well that life can get very hectic. I have found that the startup lifestyle is not for everyone. No single person involved in the company has it easy. You never just show up to work, punch the keyboard, and leave at 5pm. Even though you are pushing yourself past the 40 hour work week, you don’t have to drive yourself insane or destroy your social life. Yes, there are things you have to just say no to, but with a well managed life, you can prevent the extra stress that comes with wearing 15 different hats at your business.
I am the Director over at TrustWorkz, Inc. In a corporate world, I would probably manage only a few things. As of now, it is required of me and everyone else in the company to wear multiple hats to make sure we continue to succeed. This isn’t the way that it will always be, but such is the life of anyone in a startup business. My fiance can attest to the fact that there are many long nights and weekends that I am busy reading, writing, and making phone calls. For awhile, I let my iPhone run my life… Now, I’m running my life with my iPhone and a few other tools to help manage my time, and not lose my mind. Here are a few ways that you can do so too!
Organizing Your Life
I wake up at the crack of dawn. I know that the rest of our company does as well, because I see them pushing out articles on Twitter at 5:30am too. Waking up early isn’t a sacrifice though. It’s refreshing, and it’s a great way to get ahead of the day ahead. I do a few things to start my day with my caffeinated beverage of choice:
- Look at my iCal and make adjustments: The first thing I do is check my iCal on my iPhone and get an idea of what appointments I have for the day. I set everything up as a reminder as well, so that I never go overtime if I’m locked into what I am doing at the moment. If I skipped this step, I would end up missing appointments, meetings, etc. The iCal is the backbone of structuring my day.
- Read up on what’s going on: As a startup, we have to stay ahead of the game, so I spend around 30 minutes every morning absorbing news, articles, blogs, etc on my iPad. My tools of choice are Flipboard and Zite. It makes scrolling through headlines infinitely easier.
- Checking Twitter: Twitter is an amazing tool if you organize it correctly with lists and columns. If you really want to stay on top of things, you have to use Twitter. There is no better tool out there, that I have found, that let’s you know what is going on by the seconds.
Creating Your To-Do List
After I set my iCal at home, I get to work and go over my emails and figure out what I need to do for the day. I take that stack of stuff, and throw it into my iPhone, again, but with a different app. I am dependent on lists. Perhaps it is my generation, but in order for me to be able to function throughout the day, I need to be able to check of to-do’s to help keep me on track and also maintain my confidence of actually getting things done. I use Clear as my checklist of choice. It allows me to make list categories, and lists within those categories (I have multiple projects, and grocery lists as well.) Here’s my order of events:
- Gather my “stack” of stuff to do for the day.
- Go through the “stack.”
- Create a list/modify current lists of what I need to do for the day.
- Get it done.
The Clear tool on my iPhone is extremely useful because it helps give perspective of what needs to be done. As I go through my list, with one swipe of my finger, I can literally check things off, and see what I have accomplished ad what else needs to be done during the day. Having the ability to check items off of my list and see what I have checked off is a confidence booster. Maintaining your confidence is a crucial part of being successful. There are most likely other tools out there, like a pen and paper, but I really enjoy this tool on my phone because I take it wherever I go, and it never gets crumpled up or lost in a stack of sticky notes (seriously, does anyone use sticky notes well!?).
Clear Your Mind
You need to take a breather and de-stress. I take the edge off of the day first thing in the morning (after checking my iCal) my checking off my workout. Starting the day of on a healthy note gives me a sense of accomplishment before my workday even begins. I zone out during this time. It’s all about me, and I desperately need it. For an hour or a little longer, all that matters is that I take care of my body. Most startups spend their entire day in front of a computer screen, so getting my heart pumping for awhile is a great way to take a break from this sedentary lifestyle.
It is possible to survive the startup lifestyle. If you are in a leadership position in your company, it is imperative that you handle your sanity and work-life balance.
How do you manage your startup life?