There is a theme when you enter the field of high-level entrepreneurship and business. The higher you climb the more attention has to be paid to the body as much as the mind. What is it that makes these top leaders pay attention to their physical prowess?
High-level performers know that their physical health and performance dictates their cognitive and business performance.
As a personal trainer and growth marketing consultant working with dozens of different people I always see those who pay attention to their physical health, almost always seem to outperform those who don’t. This is both in business and outside of it. There are tools though you can leverage today to gain an immediate improvement in your business and health tomorrow.
Sleep, exercise, and mindfulness.
Sleep to Prioritise Productivity
“Exhaustion makes wimps out of all us.” James Loehr
Our day is split into 24 hours, 33% of it should be spent sleeping to allow for optimal levels of performance and output. In business, if a third of your revenue is generated from one action then you wouldn’t want to be cutting corners or decreasing the effectiveness of this process — so why cheat yourself of sleep?
Our body is directly affected by the total hours of sleep we have. We’ve all been through those times where we’ve had less sleep than we need. Lethargy, irritability and attention deficits are just a few of the issues we face due to sleep deprivation.
The news is that it gets worse if you don’t get your sleep sorted, numerous studies show that both your memory and attention are significantly impaired with as little as 6 hours a night. Here are some other symptoms that have been associated with sleep deprivation:
- Weight gain
- Heart disease
- Increased stress
- Hormone imbalance
If you’re reading this and nodding your head. Stop, reset and make a promise to do this tonight before bed:
- Sixty minutes prior to sleep eliminate all digital devices, if you’re using your phone as an alarm keep it on the other side of the room, face down to avoid checking it.
- Have a low glycemic index meal prior to sleep 250 calories or less — low blood sugar prior to sleep is a reason that people will sometimes wake up lethargic or groggy. I personally use 3–4 celery sticks with peanut butter.
- Do not do anything work or business related one hour prior to sleep.
Exercise and Eat Well to Sustain Energy
“Exercise not only changes your body but changes your mind, your attitude and your mood.” — Joseph Addison
Everybody knows they should exercise to be considered healthy however, a lack of physical activity has been associated with altered brain activity resulting in lethargy and lower productivity.
There is a reason entrepreneurial greats like Arianna Huffington, Tim Ferris, and Tony Robbins all have consistent exercise and diet routines to maintain their physical health. It not only benefits your health in the long run but your business too.
Making the wrong decisions for your business and your health because you can’t spare 20 minutes of activity is a force multiplier for disaster. You’re robbing yourself of greater productivity, which over the next week, month or year can be costly for business and longevity.
A 2002 study indicates that 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise, three times a week has the added benefits of increasing your cognition and neuroplasticity. Get a sweat up and enjoy the added bonus of being fitter and more productive.
The same goes for a bad diet, certain foods cause us to crash resulting in a below par performance cognitively. These three basic eating rules will allow you to maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day and keep your blood cholesterol in check:
- Eat lean protein (chicken, turkey, white fish), vegetables, and legumes a mix of these in as many meals as possible
- Avoid starchy foods (bread, cereal, and anything high in sugar — I try and have less than 10 g of sugar per meal) this will make sure your glycemic index doesn’t go through too many spikes and wreak havoc on your concentration
- Drink water and avoid all drinks that contain more than 5 g of sugar as a rule of thumb (if you’re not sure how much sugar is in something, just ask or look at the label)
Mindfulness and Meditation for Focus
“Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life.” — Tony Robbins
Spending time to bring your thoughts into perspective at least once a day is something that should be practiced in both business and body. Most of the start-up clients I have worked with all have some form of meditation practice.
People often use the excuse they lack time which is often due to the lack of the right priorities. The same can be said for business when you don’t focus on the right things you can spend a lot of time and energy on the wrong details.
Meditate 10 minutes every morning before checking email or any other form of communication. This gives you the ability to reflect on your top priorities that need to be achieved throughout the day. I use the application Headspace which is a form of guided meditation. I follow these three steps as used by Tim Ferriss:
- Meditate for 10–20 minutes
- Write down the two-three biggest priorities in my day
- Write down the biggest issue I have that is causing me the most angst or stress — find the fastest way to resolve this issue
This process saves me time on avoiding the menial tasks that I haven’t prioritised but also comes with the health and business benefits too. A paper published in 2014 found that a review of studies of meditation on cognition suggested a positive effect particularly in the areas of attention, memory, verbal fluency, and cognitive flexibility — a bonus for you and your business.
When looking at these processes you can see that your bodily functions are strongly intertwined with your business. These three key strategies are just as applicable to business as they’re to your health. Take 60 minutes in the day to multiply your productivity and health in the long term.
Be involved in the process and learn what gives you and your body the best outcomes. Your business and body will thank you later.