Go to any health food store and you’ll see countless vitamins and supplements that promise to give you more energy throughout the day. It almost seems like you can’t be productive without these added stimulants.
As an entrepreneur, I need as much ‘go’ as I can get to keep the ideas flowing and my mind focused on the tasks that will bring the greatest results. I’ve had to do my homework and make some lifestyle changes to accomplish that.
In this article, we’ll look at five things you can do to naturally increase your energy levels every day and perform at your best.
1. Work at the Times You’re Most Productive
One way to maximize your daily output as an entrepreneur is to work at the times when you’re the most productive.
To do that properly, you’ve got to work around your Circadian Rhythm. Which, in simple terms, is a 24-hour body clock that’s always running in your brain. This clock moves between different levels of alertness throughout the day. If you’ve ever wondered why you have a dip in energy at the same time each day, that’s the work of the Circadian Rhythm.
For most of us, our biggest lull throughout the day comes between the hours of 2 and 4 pm, or around seven or eight hours after you wake up in the morning. In his hit book ‘When’, Dan Pink calls this two-hour window the “Bermuda Triangle” of your day. It’s harder to concentrate during these hours, more difficult to remember things and to make good decisions.
So, to work with your Circadian Rhythm, make sure you don’t plan any important tasks during those mid-afternoon hours. Instead, do simple tasks that need to get done, like organizing your files, or catching up on emails.
If you do need to take on important tasks during the mid-afternoon, make sure you have a checklist or written procedure to limit any avoidable mistakes.
By completing your important tasks when you’re alert, you’ll be able to get more done in less time. For example, I’m writing this article during my alert hours because doing so helps me write faster. Plus, I’ll be more productive during low energy hours because I’ll be working on tasks that are well suited to those times.
2. Get the Right Amount of Sleep
Sleep is one of the first things many business owners compromise. This is particularly true if you’re a new entrepreneur and still working full time. Some founders even wear their lack of sleep like a badge of honor, with many getting well under the suggested seven to nine hours a night. This isn’t a sustainable lifestyle. You should make sleep a priority, not an afterthought.
Getting your sleep patterns right is key to being productive throughout your day. I know I’ve had nights where I’ve tried to stay up late to get a task done and I’m nowhere near efficient enough. I’ll check over my work the next day; and because I was so tired, it isn’t anywhere near my usual quality.
The big question is: how do you get your sleep right?
Try to make your bedroom a screen-free zone. Charge your phone in the living room and use an alarm clock in your bedroom instead. By eliminating all screen-time from your bedroom, you’ll be more likely to go straight to sleep when you get in bed. You’ll also avoid that “I’d better check my emails one last time” moment.
You should also realize that not all sleep is created equal — you need to get enough hours of deep sleep. A good way to keep tabs on your sleeping patterns is to wear a fitness tracker when you go to bed. Most fitness trackers will keep data on how many hours of sleep you get, along with the quality of those hours. Once you know how many hours of quality sleep you’re getting, you can make any adjustments as they arise.
3. Don’t Forget to Exercise
Exercising is often sacrificed by business owners. Especially those just starting out. Going without exercise can hamper your energy levels throughout the day. As fitness expert Roger Adams, Ph.D., told Cheat Sheet, “If you aren’t moving around, your body doesn’t need to use many resources to create energy, so energy production is low and you feel tired, fatigued, and unmotivated.”
You don’t need to go out and run a half-marathon every day, even 15 to 30 minutes of exercise can help. Your body will increase energy production to supply the demand you’re creating by exercising.
Exercises that help you increase energy production:
- Going for a walk or a bike ride. Low impact cardio can help get your body ready for a long day. The change of scenery and catching some Vitamin D will help too.
- Running. The term runner’s high is a valid one. Going for a run releases endorphins that help improve your mood and energy levels.
- Resistance training. Usually done at a gym, resistance training will help you feel more energetic throughout the day. If you aren’t the gym kind of person, you can use a set of dumbells or even a basic cable machine to do a wide range of exercises from your home. Likewise, do bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and pushups if you want to go back to basics.
- Yoga. Yoga releases a large volume of collected energy by loosening up your hips and shoulders in ways you normally wouldn’t do.
You can also try a range of high-intensity activities like basketball, soccer, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), and rowing to mix things up a bit. Also, exercise either in the morning or the mid-afternoon if you want your energy boost to come while you’re working, instead of while you’re trying to sleep.
4. Eat Smaller Meals Throughout the Day
Have you ever had a big lunch and wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon napping? Well, you’re not alone. As you digest your lunch, blood flow diverts to your digestive system, meaning that there’s less oxygen for your brain to use.
This lack of oxygen to your brain fatigues you.
Combat this by having smaller meals throughout the day. By limiting yourself to four or five meals, your body is constantly digesting food at a less strenuous rate.
While we’re on the topic of lunch, you should also try limiting the following foods throughout your daytime meals as they all include the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan.
- Milk: Cow
- Meat: pork, chicken, beef
- Fish: tuna, mackerel, salmon, halibut, trout
- Cheese: Parmesan, Emmental, Edam, Brie, Camembert
- Cereal products: oats, products with spelt flour/millet/(buck)wheat
- Nuts: hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts
There are a number of services available to help entrepreneurs eat smaller-portion, fully-prepared meals through the day. If you’re like me and don’t always have time to prepare a snack (much less a full lunch), they can be worth looking into.
5. Drink Plenty of Water
Not drinking water throughout the day can mess with how your brain functions. In fact, mild forms of dehydration impair mood and concentration, along with increasing headaches.
So, make sure you have a water bottle at your desk and are constantly sipping throughout the day. If you think you already get enough water, you may be surprised. Adidas’ Runtastic site has a great calculator that shows how much water you need to drink every day.
I thought I had more than enough water every day, but looking at that calculator has changed my perspective!
If you’re looking for more energy, coffee isn’t your only option. Try to also incorporate some of these other methods to ensure you have enough ‘go’ to stay productive throughout the day.