I am a writer.
Even when I’m out to dinner, or at the gym, or anywhere, I am a writer. Therefore, that is always tinting the lens through which I perceive the world. However, I cannot expect of myself to always be in the act of writing. I have collected a few tips on how to nurture and maximize your creative and entrepreneurial self that will help when you actually do sit down to work.
1. Feed the body, feed the brain. Stop to eat, and make it separate. Throughout my time, especially in New York City, I have either neglected to eat or just worked on through my meal. These are both bad ideas. Working through your lunch, for instance, besides sullying your keyboard or screen, clouds your mind. I am great at multitasking; that doesn’t mean I have to do it. Nor should you. Forgetting to eat is even worse. You are not doing yourself any favors by fasting. In order to think clearer, communicate better, and control your mood (amongst other things), you need food and water.
2. Sleep, and sleep better. You’ve read like, a million Business Insider posts on this (or maybe that’s just my feed). When I was in driving school (as an 18 year old, because my parents are over-protective) we learned that sleep deprivation basically renders you at the same level of function as being drunk. Do you go to work drunk? I certainly hope not. Also, the quality of sleep matters. Most people say that looking at the bright light of your computer/phone/tv/tablet screen is sincerely screwing up your circadian rhythm. I think about it this way: when I go to Times Square at night, I am instantly stimulated. The lights and the action trick you into thinking it’s daytime.
3. Stop thinking about it. When I’m wholly engrossed in a project (aka all the time), I want to throw myself into it, full force. I think about it while I’m brushing my teeth, when I’m in the shower, when I’m taking a run. I’m not trying to say that you should curtail your thoughts when they come. However, one of the most important practices I’ve learned is mindfulness. Learning to control my mind and commit to intention has been one of the most powerful tools for everything in my life. To start, take one of those activities, even brushing your teeth, and instead of letting your mind wander, focus on your action. Objectively notice and describe. If you do this every day, I guarantee that you will be stronger of mind.
4. Disconnect. There are so many reasons why I love my iPhone. I’m the kind of person who can be known to pick up the phone in the shower. However, there are also so many reasons why my iPhone probably killing me. Disconnect, intentionally, once a day. I actually try to practice making a full night without my phone. Obviously, stay safe. But it’s a beautiful thing to let it go. You allow yourself to look and commit yourself to the moment. The things you notice, the people you meet, and the interactions you have will be different. I’m not casting a judgement, either way. But try to do something different now and again; especially if that something seems a bit unnatural or even scary.
5. Exercise. I am not the greatest at this one. I’ve gone through my phases of running 50 miles per month. My recent exercise addiction is Physique 57. Whatever it is, find your exercise ecstasy. If you’re unreliable in this department, like I am, find a buddy to keep you accountable. And again, keep this fun. Your brain won’t like it if you’re constantly pushing though unnecessary physical or emotional pain. Exercise is awesome because it likely incorporates a bunch of the points above.
The thing to keep in mind, through all of this, is balance. Challenge yourself and be kind to yourself. Set goals and try new things. If it doesn’t work out as planned, don’t beat yourself up over not getting it right. Find what might have “gone wrong” and go from there. Focus on not what you couldn’t get to, but what you could, and how you did it. One of the strongest people I know told me this once: the secret to success is self control. There is so much of the day that is unpredictable. There is so much about life that you cannot control. The one realm where you can and should have full reign is yourself. I’m not saying to live a crazy, regimented life along someone else’s standards; go figure yourself out, and figure out how to change what you don’t like. Nobody else can do that for you.