There have been times over the past 5 years where I’ve struggled to stay connected to my team, had difficulty performing simple tasks and generally had times where there wasn’t enough coffee to keep me going. There really isn’t a stranger feeling than downing a quad espresso fully intending to hack out some work on a long flight only to wake up three hours later at your destination (was that decaf?!?!). I’ve read quite extensively on the topic to include the highly popular “4 Hour Work Week” and a number of similar publications. They certainly offer some great advice but where our business currently is some of the advice is relevant, but much of it, while applicable to Warren Buffet, Hedge Fund managers, and Venture Capitalists, it just isn’t practical where our business currently is (still in the hustle phase; I don’t have an admin).
I’ve found that to get reconnected with both my technical and sales teams and unleash my creativity, hitting the pause button is the only real solution. I can’t completely devoid myself of the tactical day-to-day operations yet so a temporary break is the best method. I’m a big fan of surfing, hiking, running and a multitude of other outdoor activities to burn off some steam and stay in shape but what I’m talking about is something entirely different. This doesn’t mean not working (or maybe it does). I’m talking about just relaxing and seeing how the day (or weekend) evolves. Maybe you’ll work, maybe you’ll catch up on sleep, maybe you’ll read a good book. Regardless of this evolution I find that simply changing my scenery, allowing myself to get out of “firefighting” mode and allowing for the opportunity to think more abstractly, great things can be done.
The primary method for finding seclusion is to do just that. Disappear. Don’t plan anything. Go somewhere that’s relaxing but doesn’t allow you to do anything (i.e. hiking in Yosemite for 14 hours). For me the answer is the Outer Banks. My girlfriend recommended the Sanderling Resort in Duck, NC which turned out to be the perfect location to take a step back from the tactical and focus on the strategic aspects of my business and my life and recover from the day-to-day cramming of three jobs into a 24 hour day. Nothing beats the sound of the ocean, great customer service, relatively healthy dining options and generally a healthy dose of peace and quiet.
Day One: Deleted, responded to, and filed more than 1000 emails. Worked on the company website, and built marketing material for some New-New customers. Planned out the next six months of travels (#permavacation). Kundalini yoga. Really wanted to rent a paddleboard. Resisted that urge in order to force myself to remain in “chill” mode.
Day Two: Collaborated on and wrote a Beta version of a Life Hacking App with my GF that takes my health data from my Garmin Connect and combine sit with other information (more to follow on this). Ate more seafood. Read John Muir’s memoirs. Kundalini yoga under the full moon. Never traveled more than 100 feet from the hotel room.
Day Three: Finally felt that brain was clear. Got a spa treatment. More Kundalini. Some Exercise. Much Seafood.
So there you have it. It only took three days to get organized, work on future business concepts, relax and center myself. I got more than 8 hours of sleep each night. Was actually able to develop a clear vision for the company for the next 12 months. The feelings of burnout had all but disappeared. Stress had melted away and an overall feeling of being centered was predominant. I try to repeat this monthly but a minimum quarterly. You? Would be interested in hearing how other entrepreneurial young execs deal find ways to unplug and focus on the strategic and combat burnout…