Turn Off And Tune In, My Advice For Budding Entrepreneurs

by | September 23, 2014

Five years ago I would have rated myself a very anxious person; someone who was easily prone to stress and worry. Between then and now I’ve spent thousands of hours studying, listening, and participating in things (like therapy) to help calm my nerves and allow me to be a much happier and more centered person.

Today, I want to share what my day-to-day looks like in hopes of showing you how to turn off and tune in.

I refuse to “allow” notifications, alerts, on my iPhone. I also tend to keep my phone on silent at all times. This means I miss a bunch of calls, but I have a time in my day set aside to return those—if it’s urgent, people text.

Few things drive me more batty than being with a person who is always looking down at their phone because it’s buzzing with notifications from CNN, Facebook, Gchat. It makes you a slave to your device, and as good as the dopamine feels when you have a positive message, the crash of a) not being needed, b) having stressful emails to respond to, and c) knowing stuff is going out without you is more than most mortals can mentally handle.

Also—it’s flipping distracting.

As I write this I have all of my devices stored in my purse, except the one I’m using—my computer. I don’t have my email up, I rarely check Facebook so it’s not on, and I have headphones in playing a mix of rain sounds and classical music. This is how I stayed focused for intense bursts (usually last 15-30 minutes), after that I let my mind and self… wander 🙂

Treat your email inbox like a mailbox.

When you check your physical mailbox at your home or apartment, you rarely stand there and open letters, read them, then shove most of them back in—right?

So how did we get the idea that it’s an okay practice with our virtual mailboxes?

One of the best, and desperately boring books I’ve ever read is David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I implore you to read it (though take the shortcut and read the summary here) and implement his GTD technique.

My adaptation is:

—check email in the morning, about an hour after I “get in” for the day (this allows me to spend the first hour of my morning—the most creative hour—focused on big problems or creative tasks).

—zero out your inbox at your first email flush, you can get through this by making sure every email you touch is either:

  • doable and under 15 minutes (do it immediately or add to your to-do list, I personally use Asana)
  • delegate-able (send it to your Zirtual Assistant, colleague, etc)
  • discardable (throw it away, respond “thanks but not now”, etc)

Seriously, read GTD, it will give you far more insight—but once you master checking your email only a few times a day and not being a slave to your inbox, you’ll notice your stress levels plummet and your productivity rise.

Realize in the grand scheme, very few things matter.

Seriously, look at all the people suffering from REAL tragedies (war, sickness, loss of a loved one) and get over yourself—nothing that’s going on in your business right now is ever that bad.

Get outside of yourself and your business and try to help others, even if the reason is self-serving at first. Do one small kind thing a day for a stranger, you will feel better the rest of your day and it will help you put most things in perspective.

Get a therapist.

People often ask me what is one piece of advice I would give a person starting their own company—every time I say the same thing. Get a therapist. The biggest barrier between your company and success will be your own psychosis. Whatever emotional or psychological issues you may have (and most people have at least a smattering) will multiply 10x and manifest in your business—from the way you treat employees, to the way you deal with the board to how you interact with customers.

Do yourself, and those who work for you, a favor and invest in understanding your own psyche—it’s absolutely the best money I have ever spent.