If you’re an entrepreneur like I am, you know how important creativity and productivity are not only to your business, but to your life as a whole. The same goes for people of all types—artists, students, employees, and everyone else. No matter what you spend the majority of your time doing, you won’t get far in life without maintaining productivity and at least a little creativity. You might often find yourself lacking in your ability to reach your desired level of productivity and your ability to solve problems and come up with innovative ideas.
There are hundreds of ways people might suggest to maximize productivity and creativity, but none of them will work without a strong foundation: your health. In order to perform your best, you need both physical and mental fitness. You can’t create your best work when you’re stressed, tired, or even hungry. When you are at a deficit in these areas is when you’re most likely to make poor decisions or mess up what you’re working on. The same goes for your team members—in order for them to perform at a high level, they need strong physical and mental health. Encourage these habits and model a well-rounded business and lifestyle.
At my company, Hennessey Digital, we introduced a wellness program for all of our employees to encourage them to prioritize taking care of their health. I truly believe that when you’re healthy and happy, you do better work. You may have a similar program at your own company, but as an entrepreneur, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself, especially when you’re wrapped up taking care of your business and your family.
It’s important to recognize that taking care of your health—both physical and mental—is not selfish. It benefits not just you, but everyone around you. When you take care of yourself first, you’re able to take better care of others.
As you begin your journey to improving your health, I recommend beginning with physical fitness. There are concrete actions you can take to begin seeing results quickly, and improving your physical health will improve your mental health as well. Here are a few tips to help you implement healthy changes to your lifestyle.
- Get better sleep. Many entrepreneurs get caught up in working late into the night. Maybe it’s difficult for you to sleep because you have so much on your mind. But even if you don’t change anything else about your daily routine, getting better sleep will make an immense difference in the way you feel. I know many entrepreneurs often feel exhausted—part of that comes from overworking, as well. If that’s you, it might be time to set some strict boundaries for yourself to avoid overworking. Identify what’s getting in the way of proper rest and begin to tackle that. When you feel well-rested, you’ll have much more energy and willpower to help you tackle the next steps of your journey to better productivity.
- Eat the right food. I don’t mean switching to eating nothing but salads and fish, either (as a matter of fact, I hate fish!). There are foods that give you more energy and foods that make you feel lethargic. Everyone’s body will respond differently to what they put in it, so pay attention to how certain foods make you feel, and choose foods that give you energy and make you feel alert and clear-minded. If you feel like taking a nap directly after lunch, chances are that’s not the right food you need to fuel your body for the rest of the day.
- Don’t forget to move. Movement is incredibly important for your health and helps stimulate the mind. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to come up with great ideas when you’re taking a walk? Creating a regular exercise routine is fantastic for both your physical and mental health, but if you have a busy schedule, start by prioritizing sleep and then thinking about the food you eat, and then you can begin to add in exercise. Even if you don’t have time to work out for thirty minutes every day, there are ways you can increase your movement, such as trying out a standing desk, parking farther away from your office and walking, or taking phone calls while you walk rather than at your desk. Exercising on a break is a great mental reset and can reenergize you to keep your productivity high throughout the day.
I recommend starting by prioritizing your physical health because the mind and body are deeply connected and you can improve your mental health significantly by getting better sleep, eating well, and exercising. However, wellness doesn’t end there. Mental fitness is much more complicated, especially when there are underlying issues, but there are always steps you can take to improve. I’ve learned a few tips through my experience that can significantly improve your mental fitness.
- Avoid burnout. Unfortunately, burnout is something most of us will have to face at some point in our lives. It affects entrepreneurs, employees, parents, students, caretakes, and more. In fact, you can even experience burnout in multiple parts of your life at once. While this is a complex problem, and many books have been written on dealing with it, there is one thing you can do to gain some relief. Start by listing everything on your plate, and ask yourself which tasks require you to handle them. I recommend asking yourself several times—do I really need to be the one to complete this? Then begin finding ways to eliminate tasks, either by outsourcing them or crossing them off the list entirely. This is a fantastic way to free up time, energy, and mental space.
- Focus on positivity. No matter how great your life is, there will always be problems you’ll have to deal with. Shifting your focus to one of positivity, dwelling on what you appreciate rather than what you don’t, can make a massive difference not just for you but for everyone around you. Cultivate a positive environment in your home and your workplace. Many people benefit from gratitude journaling as an exercise to focus on positivity. You could also try meditation or mindfulness exercises if you prefer, or make up your own exercise, like paying someone a compliment first thing every day. Find something you can make a habit of and practice it regularly.
Don’t hesitate to seek out support from professionals. We all go through difficult times in our lives when we need help, and if you have underlying mental health issues, it’s especially important to work with a mental health professional. But even if you don’t struggle with your mental health, it can be beneficial to see a therapist, counselor, or even a life coach on a regular basis to help you process things in a healthy way. If you do seek professional help, don’t settle on the first person you find. Look for someone who specializes in the area you want help in and ensure that they’re a good fit and will be able to provide the kind of help you desire.
Your physical and mental health are vital to your performance in your daily life, both in work and in personal goals and relationships. If your body or mind isn’t getting what it needs, it may begin to shut down functions that are less important to survival, which can take a major toll on your productivity. Even though taking care of your health takes time and effort, by doing everything you can to feel your best, you’ll give yourself a boost of mental and physical energy that will improve your productivity in the long run.