The current boom in technology start ups has created a renewed condition of over-working throughout the early-stage tech community. One of my GenX colleagues pinged me last week, “We are working long hours like we did during the last boom — when we were young!” And the Millennial entrepreneurs are assuming (like we all do & did) that start ups leave no room for any other activities.
Still, there is some wisdom in giving yourself a break. Even a brief break, but a real one — a full day, a week or more on the road (for fun), a weekend away. By “real” I mean you must totally disconnect from the concerns, strategies, tactics, and successes of your early stage company, at least for awhile. And stay off the grid (I mean it — do you even remember how?).
You can do this by setting aside time to “scrub your brain” by re-focusing on something completely different: new people unconnected to your or your industry, a book that you read for pleasure and not learning; immersion in movies, sports, travel, surfing (the ocean not the Web), or sailing.
Even meditation can work, as it does for one of my clients – -very busy, very successful, he still spends at least an hour each day in meditation, and is rarely tired or ill.
Another client just booked a two-week trip to the rain forests of Peru to meet with tribal leaders, even in the midst of building his new business (which hasn’t much to do with Peruvian tribes).
Your reward? Your spirit will be refreshed, your brain synapses will fire in new ways, and your creativity will re-emerge to see your challenges at work in a new way. I promise.
The secret to refreshing your spirit is to fully surrender to your non-work activity, and to give yourself the time to truly move to a different context. Otherwise, your brain is never scrubbed clean, never made free, and you cannot have that unrelated next new thought.
This sounds easy, but in fact, re-setting your creativity requires discipline and a kind of ego-less state. The discipline comes in allowing the surrender. The ego-less state allows you to stop being the center of your own universe for long enough that your context shifts and the world looks as large as it really is, and your spot in it appropriately smaller.
Try it. It works.