My parents owned and managed a small business in New York City for over 10 years. I watched my parents work themselves into cancer and disease. They got so sick and made so little that they had no choice but to sell their business and retire because they couldn’t afford healthcare. They sacrificed the best years of their life for their children but have little to show for it.
This is what I learned from that experience on how to design the best lifestyle for yourself as an entrepreneur.
1. What’s your why?
My parents WHY was their children. They worked themselves until they literally couldn’t anymore so my little sister and I could go to college. They bet everything they had on us. Even to this day, my little sister and I are practically my parents’ retirement savings because they barely have any.
So what’s your why? Is it to support your family? If then think about what that really means- because my parents chose a lifestyle that didn’t fit their why.
2. Design your lifestyle around your why
If your why is family, you probably don’t want to do what my parents did and work nonstop until your children are all grown up. My little sister’s first family vacation was when she was 17. My parents had never taken time off to go on a family vacation before.. and they did this after they sold their business and retired.
- Do you work for yourself full-time?
- Have you set hours for yourself?
- Have you gone beyond your end time because you still had work to do?
- Have you found yourself looking at the computer screen at 9 pm realizing that you haven’t done anything productive in the last 3 hours?
Set hours. Spend time with your friends or family. If you have children spend time with them.
Set hours for yourself, do great work during those hours, and relax when you’re off the clock.
Working hard and a lot of hours is great but there is a law of diminishing returns. Rest is as important.
Don’t burn out. The key to not burning out is rest.
3. Fine-tune your lifestyle and create processes. A Look into My Daily Process
I’ve had two suicide attempts in my life. I had one at 17 and another at 23. Fortunately that part of my life is over but every time I had a suicide attempt I had to rebuild from scratch literally. I had to teach myself how to read again when I was 17 from picture books and comic books. Before my suicide attempt I was reading Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals.
But the great thing about that is- if I can do it, you can do it too.
To this very day, I have to be very conscious about my limits. This is how I do it.
Every morning I have a routine that I follow. I make my bed, check my email, and calendar. I drink Soylent (my breakfast), hi-caf tea (my equivalent of coffee). I check appeagle, brush my teeth, meditate, and review my sessions (my major projects of the day). Sometimes I skip a couple.
Before I start my day, I make an active effort to think about something that I am truly grateful for. I start my day with positive energy. Not in a bad mood or stressed, but positive- almost zen.
You can also see that I have a desired start and end time and actual times. For me, it is usually 9am to 5pm.
Now I will set my sessions the night before or if I procrastinated, that morning, as I do my routine.
I have 4 sessions which are the equivalent of 4 projects.
I know for sure that I can usually complete my first 2, so I prioritize my sessions or projects by importance. I usually never get to my 4th session so it usually carries over to the next day.
Once I start my day and my first session, I use a pomodoro timer. I use the Tide app.
A pomodoro is a productivity technique where you work for 25 minutes and take a break for 5. You do this 4 times, and on your 4th break you take a longer 15 minute break.
So as soon as I turn on this timer, I know exactly what I’m doing, because I am accomplishing SESSION 1, and I want to accomplish that session in the least amount of pomodoros as possible.
That means for 25 minutes, I’m not checking my email, my phone, or Facebook. I’m working only on that project.
Once my 25 minutes are up, I’ll take a quick social media or bathroom break (usually both at the same time) or take a quick walk around the house. But when that 5 minutes is up, I get back to work.
I keep track of the number of pomodoros and breaks I take because it helps me discover how long a project really takes. So the next time I have a similar project, I will be able to better estimate how long it will take.
Sometimes I’ll realize that my project was too big for one session. I will jot down in my notes that this project should have been broken down into more sessions. I usually realize this when I start a session and have no idea where to begin. I end up taking time to think and plan. Thinking and planning should have been done before I started my pomodoro.
Pomodoros and sessions should be used for actionable tasks where you know exactly what you have to accomplish before you begin.
I hope you found this post helpful. Stay tuned for a post on goal-setting and how I break down my yearly goals into 90 day, monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
Cheers to crushing it.