Yesterday, I finally hung out with two girlfriends friends that I haven’t seen in a very long time. And they held zero punches when it came to expressing just how very long the time had been. “I can’t believe you’re here,” they would say repeatedly, followed by a series of jokes about how I keep a tight schedule and “How long do we have you for this time?”
We’ve all been there: where all your friends and family poke fun at spending more time in google docs than you do downing beers with them. It doesn’t always feel good. And even if they’re right, the guilt trip never sits well with you after you’ve left, cracked open the Macbook, and started working on your next task. Because the truth is, you’d love to be out whooping it up with your friends… but not more than you’d love for your business to be a blockbuster success.
So how do we find the balance? Where can we find the space to while pursuing our dreams and yet keep some fun time for yourself? It takes some work, and a lot of clear communication to the squad who support you the most. But if you can grab a hold of the four tips below, you might just find the balance to keep your friend’s jokes to a minimum and your productivity to its max! Check it out.
Schedule Some Mini Breaks
The truth is, if we can schedule the hell out of our businesses, then we can schedule the hell out of our fun. In fact, a study from the University of Illinois shows that our brains need the breaks if we want them to be constantly taking a fresh approach to the work we are doing. “The brain is built to detect and respond to change,” says professor Alejandro Lleras, who conducted the study. “We propose that deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused,” he said. “Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”
But a break doesn’t have to be a long one — it just has to make you feel great. I like to use my commute home, for instance, to call my mother or friends to catch up on life. And when I first come home after work, those first thirty minutes are for me, the tv and whatever I want to eat. I even try to make sure I don’t work for ten days straight without taking one day off. While the entrepreneurs hours are longer and harder than most of our friends, it doesn’t mean they aren’t each valuable and exciting. But like the professor’s research shows, breaks will keep our minds fresher — so take them.
Be Very Intentional
While I loved seeing my girlfriends this weekend, I didn’t particularly like sitting at the bar and drinking. This probably has something to do with the fact that I knew if I drank more than one or two ciders, I’d risk a hangover that my time really couldn’t afford. But this was their commitment to the rest of their evening, so I had to either suck it up and drink, or just leave all together.
In this case, I ended up leaving. My deadlines were far more important to get off my mental plate than collecting a bad hangover and a hefty bar tab. But in retrospect, I wish I had spent time pre-planning my day out that was meaningful to all of us. When you’re an entrepreneur, your time is precious — including the time you spend having fun. So be conscious about it, for the sake of your relationships and your own spiritual health. Pick activities your brain can reflect on later as truly fun and well worth the distraction.
Put Your Phone Down
Sometimes the best way to insert fun back into your life is to simply put your damn phone down. Research has shown that using our phones constantly has a very negative impact on our stress levels and mental health, while sparking serious concerns about depression and sleep. None of which are going to add any value to your productivity, so instead, put the phone away when you’re at dinner, or in a meeting or before crawling into bed. Think of it as less of a chore the internet says you should do and more of a mental spa break for yourself — where you’ll become more present in the moment and not stuck in a reality of a bad email or weird text message that doesn’t really need to be dealt with immediately.
Be In The Present
I know it feels like we can multi-task. Like we really can handle eight-million tasks at once. But experts have repeatedly expressed that our brains are not made for that kind of thinking. So if you do any of the tips above, the best way to maximize every second of your fun, and make it seem like it’s lasting twice as long is to be present. Don’t think about tomorrow or the problems you had yesterday. Leave the emails, the text messages and the snapchatting for another moment and put all your energy towards mindfully enjoying exactly where you are. Just like you remember a great vacation over all the bad emails you received last year, being present is how your brain catalogs all your life’s experiences and helps you feel less burned out over time.
Do you have any tricks that you use to maximize your time? Share them with us below and help your fellow chica max her time out!