Despite the Stress, Here’s How You Can Stay Mentally Sharp and Engaged

No matter how much gets done, there’s always more ahead. Whether it’s an email chain about tech issues, a question of growth or simply deciding what topics need to be handled in an update meeting, there are a lot of issues that have to be tackled in a work day.
It’s easy to get tired.

Staying on top of tasks can be a hard thing: Everyone has off days. Everyone faces that sense of overload from time to time. We asked 14 members of the Young Entrepreneur Council what habits they adhere to in order to remain productive, no matter how stressed or busy they are.

Their best answers are below.

Make Sure to Get a Full Night’s Sleep

After your regular working hours, your productivity drops dramatically. When entrepreneurs try to burn the midnight oil, they do themselves, their peers and their company a disservice because they can seldom function at full capacity the next day without a proper night’s sleep. No matter what happens at work, I always prioritize getting to bed early and waking up at a reasonable hour. – Firas KittanehAmerisleep

Win the Morning

The morning is the only part of the day you can control. So you must “win” it. Whatever that means for you, you must protect that time and adhere to the routine or activities that will prime you for success throughout the day. For me, I stretch and meditate before listening to uplifting video or audio clips while I make my breakfast and green tea. – Andrew ThomasSkyBell Doorbell

Block out Your Prime Time

Identify when you are the most productive and focus on the tasks that are the highest priority to complete during that time. During your prime time, eliminate distractions such as calls and emails, and instead use the time you are at your mental best to accomplish your most important tasks. – Doug BendBend Law Group, PC

Create a Schedule

Taking time at the end of each day to outline a schedule for the next day allows me to be more productive. You have to allow for adjustments because changes will occur, but in most cases, you can effectively plan out your next day and budget how long each task should take. This habit has prevented me from getting caught up in the moment and spending too much of my time on less important work. – Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports, LLC

Spend Sunday Evenings Preparing for the Week

Since I started my business seven years ago, I always take some time on Sunday nights to prepare for the week. I go over my calendar, make a list of what I will need for meetings to meet deadlines and of what needs to be accomplished during the next five days. I reply to any emails I received from the time I left the office on Friday until Sunday night so I can start the week ready to go. – Lindsay PinchukBump Club and Beyond

Create Three Lists of Things to Do

Use a daily to-do list and write it out by hand. The first category on the list is for things that must get done that day, and the second is for items that need attention but can wait. The third category is for tasks that are minor in nature, but can be completed on a slow day. – Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

Cross Things off Your List

I love crossing things off my list and being able to know I finished it at the end of each day. When I see too many things left, it pushes me to pick up the pace and prioritize. It’s the way for me to refocus and tell myself I can complete what I set out to do. It leaves me with a good feeling and sets the precedent to keep for the next day and the one after that. – Drew HendricksButtercup

Support Your Body and Mind

There are great productivity tools out there, but I think it’s also important to leverage external factors. When you’re stressed and busy, try to balance it out. Get sleep and work in some exercise. If you meditate, incorporate it into your day. If listening to music helps you stay energized, use that. Eat healthy food, go for a walk. Supporting your body and mind will increase productivity. – Travis NagleStem and Viesso

Take an Afternoon Stroll

It’s so easy to get wrapped up and overwhelmed with work, so I make it a point every afternoon at the same time, to go for a walk outdoors—usually with my dog. The fresh air clears my mind, gets my blood flowing, and allows me to decompress from the day’s stress. Knowing a walk is coming forces me to push through my work earlier in the day. – Cynthia JohnsonIpseity Media

Practice Pranayama Yoga

As a CEO, my workload has increased in the last six years, and so have my stress levels. One of my friends told me to try pranayama yoga. I have been doing it for 10 minutes every day, and I feel stress-free and full of energy every day. – Piyush JainSIMpalm

Keep a Pulse on the Market

Reading industry news and tech blogs keeps me informed on what’s happening in the market. This gets me energized and wanting to push even harder knowing that other people are making moves. Competitive people will be able to relate: If you see others doing big things, you will want to push even harder to go above and beyond. – Ryan ShankPhoneWagon

Use the Pomodoro Technique

If you’re prone to procrastination, the Pomodoro Technique is a brilliant productivity enhancer. At its most basic, the Pomodoro technique involves setting a timer for 25 minutes during which you work on a specific task and then taking a five-minute break. The process is repeated until you’re finished. It sounds simple, but it’s excellent at keeping me focused on the task at hand. – Vik PatelFuture Hosting

Break down Complexity to Solve Issues

As entrepreneurs, we might be tasked with solving everyone’s problems. Being able to handle multiple challenges at one time is key in maintaining clear thought—and your sanity. To best handle what is being thrown at you, make a list of every issue that’s next to get solved. Then, address each problem one at a time. This breaks down the complexity and increases problem-solving productivity. – Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors

Set Aside ‘Me Time’

It seems counterintuitive, but having time to relax is just as important as getting things done when it comes to productivity. Although it’s tempting to skip recharging on busy days, your workload will suffer and you’ll eventually burn out. That’s why I pencil in non-negotiable time for myself daily, whether it’s having a relaxing meal with friends or just taking a walk after work. – Elle KaplanLexION Capital

The answers above are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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