Until now, I’ve never had the luxury of getting a ton of things done and not speaking with a single human all day. As an eCommerce entrepreneur, I can spend 90% of my work day without live human interaction, just communicating via email and social networks. I reference this luxury like the time I ate a pound of jello, you can have too much of a good thing (I was 15).
Before this, I worked for a startup with a winning office culture and all the accoutrements: organic gummy snacks, nerf guns, fishbowl meeting rooms, whiteboards galore and communal desks. This environment worked well for certain interactions and personality types, but I often found myself craving solitude and worse, felt like I couldn’t focus enough to be as productive as I needed to be.
I’m 40% introvert and 60% extrovert, so I consider myself an ambivert and experience different struggles dealing with both types of environments, how I work through information best and how I maintain a productive energy level.
See if you’re an ambivert. Having been on both sides of the grass, I can some offer 3 tips avoiding energy slumps as an extroverted solopreneur, and productivity dumps as an introverted creative.
Avoiding energy slumps when you’re hustling from home
Put on a podcast
I love podcasts, because they give me the feeling as if someone is working along side me, teaching and cheering me on at the same time. I actively discipline myself from multi-tasking when I’m working, so I only listen to podcasts when I’m doing work that is more passive for me–cleaning up my inbox, sending simple replies, designing graphics, Instagram curating, etc. Here are list of the 5 I’m listening to right now:
Reid Hoffman’s Master of Scale
The Creative Empire Podcast
Project Entrepreneur’s #TheTools
Gary Vee’s Audio Experience
Optimal Living Daily
Get some face time
When it’s 3pm and you can’t believe you haven’t left the house all day but still have more to get done, this is a great caffeine-free pick-me-up. Call a friend that you feel comfortable having a quick conversation with, best friends and industry friends are my go-tos, and switch up a phone call for some good ol’ fashioned Facetime. I host mastermind and advisor calls by Facetime or Google Hangouts as much as I can.
Okay, you don’t have to jump, but I’ve found that moving fresh oxygenated blood through my body is the best mental reset, especially when I’ve worked alone all day. Scheduling 20-30 minutes of movement a day is ideal, but if you can’t that day–take some deep breaths and stretch wherever you are. My favorite stretch is called the ‘ragdoll’. It’s exactly how it sounds. Stand with your feet hips width apart, knees bent as much as you need, and bend at the waist towards your feet. Let your head hang loose and hold onto the opposite elbow. Remember to take a few slow, deep breaths through your nose, then roll up slowly, all the way back up. Your face will be red and your hair out of place, but it’s great way to get energy without caffeine, and maybe a good time to apply some dry shampoo, too.
Avoiding productivity dumps in a busy work environment
Claim your space
Don’t work against your natural tendency, listen to it. If you’re feeling like you need to retreat and find a certain space that makes you most productive, do that. I always admired a colleague who went to the same spot every day, when she need to crank out work, this was her productive spot. We are creatures of habit, and if you have a place you can revisit which signals ‘work’, your mind will reliably follow suit. The same goes with time. If you need uninterrupted time, carve it out on your calendar, and let others know you’re unavailable. To create space, you must draw some lines.
Regardless of personality type, having one day to break routine, can make a big difference. especially when you are normally surrounded by people and interruptions. Giving your team one day allows for independent space to cross items off lists and can give introverts a day to recharge their battery. If you’re working solo and need more activity, I’d recommend one designated day a week to work from a coffee shop, a co-working space, a friend’s studio, or even a hotel lobby. Simply observing new people and behaviors can provide creative inspiration and allow you to be more productive, not just busy.
Get a buddy
This might sound contrary, but finding one good co-working buddy can focus you more and allow work to flow easier. I find it helpful to get a high level understanding of the tasks each of you want to accomplish during this work session and how much concentration is required, before agreeing to co-work. A good co-working buddy will fill in the gaps when you want to take a break or have someone to ideate with.
Lastly, a big key to managing your energy effectively depends on the people you surround yourself with. Know your team-your employees, contractors, office mates and collaboration partners. Knowing my colleague’s Myers Briggs personality types and common characteristics, allows me to approach situations more prepared with what to expect. Analyze your traits here! If you have a team, you’ll want to have a good sense of people’s work styles to help you understand when and why they need alone time, how to approach group brainstorming and who has strengths that complement your weaknesses.