Working long hours is common among small-business owners, whether you’re growing your operation or putting in extra time to fulfill new customer orders. Yet efficiency can be hard to maintain over time, and overdoing it is a recipe for burnout, says Joe Wilner, a life coach, speaker, and writer based in Kansas City, Mo.
To accomplish what needs to get done without wearing yourself out, make some adjustments to your schedule and eating habits, Wilner advises. Here are five tips for boosting your energy during a long workday.
- Take short breaks. Look at your tasks for the day and factor in times when you can step away for a few minutes. Wilner recommends working for about 90 minutes and then taking a 15-minute break. If you’re stressed, use the downtime to take a few deep breaths. Change your environment, too: Get up and stretch, walk around, or step outside. The break will help you shake off a little stress, recover your mind, and be ready to jump in again.
- Watch what you eat and drink. “Be aware of unnaturally caffeinated drinks with high levels of sugar, like soda and energy drinks,” Wilner says. After the initial surge wears off, you’ll face a serious energy drain that comes from a caffeine and sugar crash. Consume caffeinated beverages, including coffee, in moderation — and drink water to stay hydrated. Meals can also make (or break) your energy levels. Kathleen O’Connor, who offers website copywriting services, says she avoids eating large meals that can lead to grogginess. Instead she opts for small, healthy snacks throughout the day, such as nuts, yogurt with granola, fruit, and whole wheat bread with cheese.
- Get enough sleep. Aim to get the rest you need at night to maintain high energy levels throughout the day, Newell says. If you’re short on sleep, taking a power nap can help you recharge. For optimal energy, try to keep the nap between 15 and 30 minutes.
- Stand up. Dan Policastro, CEO of BladeReviews.com, swapped his traditional desk for a standing one. “I used to doze off at my old desk. Now I’m much more alert and have more energy all day,” he says. Even if you don’t switch to a standing desk, handle small tasks while on your feet: Make a phone call, sort papers, or talk to an employee while standing up.
- Get into the right mind-set. Nothing saps strength like facing a dreaded task. For those jobs you don’t want to do, try framing the situation in a way that will help you keep a positive attitude, Wilner suggests. If you’re slogging through a proposal, for instance, think of the long-term growth effects it could have on your business. Staying positive will help increase your energy, giving you the strength you need to get through those long hours.