No matter if you’ve just launched your startup or you’ve already secured venture capital, the life of an entrepreneur can mean long hours and isolation. You may find yourself working 60-plus hour weeks and wearing many different executive hats to get your company off the ground.
It’s important to connect with people and network for your business to succeed─and for your own mental health. At the same time, it’s difficult to balance the need to be social with the demands of work that come with building a company.
How do you balance these things in a healthy way? As author of The 2 AM Principal and founder of The Influencers, a community of thought leaders, including famous actors, musicians, authors, scientists and members of royalty, I have learned how to be social and productive.
1. Don’t mix work and play.
Stop lying to yourself. You’re not being productive by watching Game of Thrones and simultaneously answering emails. Chatting up the person next to you at your co-working space is not the same as getting feedback on your deck.
Some mistakenly believe that multitasking makes them more efficient, but research studies have proven that the opposite is true. You’re better off spending four hours on real, undistracted productivity that is guilt-free than 10 hours distracting yourself by trying to juggle work tasks with checking Facebook or watching TV.
Work when you work, play when you play. Of course, it can be difficult to part with old habits, so here are a few tools and techniques that will help you get started:
Use the Pomodoro Technique.
In the 1980s, Francesco Cirillo developed a system, in which you have 25 minutes of focused, undistracted work and then take short breaks in between. The breaks are planned and guiltless, you can watch cat videos or chat on messenger, but only in the allotted time.
Check out RescueTime app.
How many hours are you wasting each day? You can find the answers by using RescueTime, a nifty app that tracks how much time you spend on websites and applications. So, you can see exactly how many hours you’ve spent binge-watching Netflix. Hopefully, the realization can motivate you to cut down or completely cut out activities that are not valuable uses of your time.
If all else fails
Finally, if you can’t help yourself, try:
- Anti-Social, which blocks social media sites like Facebook and Twitter
- SelfControl, which restrict how long you visit websites like Netflix or YouTube on a daily basis
2. Be clear on what social interaction suits you.
We are wired for human interaction. If we go long periods of time without it, we will lose focus and sight of what we are doing and why we are doing it.
But, being social doesn’t mean going to a nightclub. It also doesn’t mean that you have to be at a 100-person event. Networking or community building is about creating meaningful, long-lasting relationships that benefit everybody involved. If you are an introvert, then focus on smaller more intimate events.
When you go to these events, have a clear objective of who you are trying to meet and what you want to accomplish. Otherwise, you will walk out feeling like you haven’t built relationship and have wasted your time.
3. Why are you having that drink?
I enjoy a cocktail as much as the next person. However, if you really want to be productive and successful, ask yourself: “Why am I having a drink?”
Don’t confuse getting drunk at a party for networking.
Alcohol messes with your sleep cycles and reduces productivity. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have drinks with friends; just be mindful of when you drink, how much and its impact on your life.
I call the system I created “Peek Social Drinking”:
- Only drink Friday and Saturday night
- Skip the weekends when you need to be productive
- Go wild on holidays and vacations
Use this or create a system that works for you.
4. Play the trading game.
Everybody wants to do more and be more. But you can’t just keep adding to your life, without reducing something. A brilliant and highly productive friend of mine Enver Gjokaj plays the trading game, which works like this:
When he wants to add something to his life like learning a new skill, he must first eliminate something. He trades one use of time for another. Recently, he learned French using Memrise. In order to do that, he gave up Netflix.
Remember, there are certain things that you can’t trade away. If you deny yourself sleep, you will lose productivity and focus. If you remove all social interaction, you may end up depressed, so make sure you are eliminating the right ones.
Building a company is a huge undertaking and sometimes, it can leave you feeling isolated. However, with these tips and more in The 2 AM Principle, you can engineer your lifestyle to be more social, productive and adventurous.