How do the greatest business minds stay creative and practice great habits when the demands of building a business can be so exhausting?
Over the course of my career, I have often turned to colleagues and leading business experts and coaches in the world for advice. Here are five of my favorite daily rituals I learned from some of these leaders: These tips and habits are simple enough that you can incorporate them into your routine as well.
Even the most extraordinarily busy entrepreneurs can find a few minutes each day to take care of their physical well-being. Leaders who are said to practice breathing techniques and meditation include Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, Sheryl Sandberg, Elon Musk and more.
One tactic I learned this year comes recommended by an expert who works with many of our clients, Walker Clark. Clark is a sought-after performance coach known as a leader creator for his unique style of coaching. Clark told me about the Buteyko method of reduced breathing he uses with his clients. “All of us tend to breathe incorrectly, which can wash too much carbon dioxide from our blood and starve our tissues of oxygen. This can contribute to a host of ailments, including chronic exhaustion, depression and anxiety,” says Clark.
The breathing exercise he recommends is simple. With your tongue resting on the roof of your mouth, repeat these steps:
- Take a small, calm breath in through your nose.
- Gently allow your breath out.
- Hold your nose for a slow count of five.
- Breathe quietly and normally for 10 seconds, then repeat the sequence.
Learn story structure
One key to success in business is knowing how to tell any story in a powerful way. Good stories can connect us to our customers, increase sales, inspire our teams and even start movements. My friend and author, Craig Leener, gives a great tip for learning this priceless skill: He suggests reading Napoleon Hill’s personal development classic, Think and Grow Rich, where you can review the book’s organized planning chapter as a guide to understanding an eight-point story arc.
Knowing how an eight-point arc works and practicing the method allow you to craft your own powerful story from start to finish. I use this method constantly to help grow my companies and help my clients grow theirs, too.
Write morning pages
Originated by Julia Cameron from her book, The Artist’s Way, the concept of morning pages is simple: As soon as you wake up, you need to write three journal pages with any and all thoughts that come into your mind. I first heard about it last year and was reminded of the power of this practice by Robyn Ward, an advisor and coach for some of the world’s largest tech companies and founders.
Robyn recommends all the startups and founders she works with to partake in the practice of morning pages. She swears that capturing our messy and random stream of consciousness on paper helps to quiet mental chatter and free the mind, which allows us to move more consciously and creatively into our day. Robyn says, “Adding this morning ritual to my day was a game-changer for me and, though my clients are often wary of the concept initially, I have watched countless entrepreneurs benefit from this practice.”
Take walking meetings
Walking meetings are incredible for the mind, as we can be more effective and creative when we’re moving.
My friend, author and investor Amy Jo Martin says that walking meetings actually help her brain stay stimulated, and when she can’t get outdoors, she takes meetings via Google Hangouts and Skype calls from her treadmill desk. Yes, a treadmill desk is a real thing. Amy says, “Over the past year, I’ve also started setting aside a certain amount of time each week where I hop on my treadmill desk and then ask friends and followers on social media if there’s anything I can do to help them while I’m getting my steps in.”
Prioritize your to-do list
As entrepreneurs, we’re often faced with an overwhelming mountain of to-do’s every day. And most of us are tempted to jump right into the tasks that we can finish quickly (you know, the easy work that we can check off our list to feel accomplished). But the truth is, those easy tasks are also typically the most trivial.
Recently, I heard Sasha Kill, founder of Outlaw Creative, share on a call how she manages creative projects for the world’s top brands and their founders every day. We have worked with Sasha over the years and she uses a trick that many leading CEOs swear by. Sasha says, “If you want to stay on top of your game, it’s important to focus on your most important daily projects first. It only takes a few minutes at the beginning of each day to prioritize and outline your top three projects, then commit to completing those tasks before tackling any other to-do on your list.”
The tips above will not only address your personal wellness and mindfulness, but can also help you build a better team, experience less stress and reach your business goals. The trick is that you have to make these tips habits. You can’t just glance at story structure; you have to memorize it. You can’t just try the breathing exercise once; you have to make it a part of your daily routine. Habits also statistically take at least 30 days to stick (though some say only 21 days), so challenge yourself to try one of the above for a minimum of 30 days and see what happens as a result.