The Science of Working Smarter: 8 Stress Hacks for Entrepreneurs

The Science of Working Smarter: 8 Stress Hacks for Entrepreneurs


As an entrepreneur, you're most likely used to juggling some of the following: suppliers, customers, employees, product launches, marketing, finances, growth, operations and more on a day to day basis.

And that's sometimes only a portion of what's on your plate. Add family, kids, rent, mortgage, car payments, health, and diet in the mix and you've got a real soup on your hands. 

So then how do you juggle it all? Where do you draw the line? 

Recognizing the need that busy ecommerce entrepreneurs have for relaxation in their lives, we decided to put this post together to provide easy-to-implement stress hacks proven by science and backed up by plain old common sense. 

Okay, so now that we've got your attention, here we go: 

1. Personalize Your Workspace

Who would have thought that adding things like photos of friends and family, plants, motivational quotes, comic strips, artwork, screen savers, personalized desktop background, and more could help you get more out of your day?

Newly published research in the Journal of Environmental Psychology showed that for people who work in open or shared spaces, a highly personalized workspace meant lower levels of emotional exhaustion and distraction despite the lower levels of perceived privacy. 

In other words making your space your own will help you feel less stressed and allow you to get more done.

2. Do One Thing at a Time

Here's a fact: multitasking sucks. Don't believe me? Well, in 2009 researchers at Stanford asked 262 college students to complete three experiments involving switching tasks, going through irrelevant information, and using their working memory under the assumption that multitaskers would outdo the nonmultitaskers.

What they found instead was that multitaskers were terrible in all three experiments, worst of all they found that when frequent multitaskers attempted to focus on a single task, they used their brains less effectively than non-frequent multitaskers.

You'd be wise instead to abide by what one researcher dubbed the 20-minute rule, which proposes that instead of switching tasks from minute to minute, devote a 20-minute chunk of time to one task and then switch to another. That my friends is beginnings of master the zen art of uni-tasking. 

3. Take Time to Meditate

It's no secret that there's a whole new breed of entrepreneurs obsessed with meditation and there's a lot of research and evidence that supports the fact that those who meditate are better equipped to deal with stress.

One in particular conducted by scientists at the University of Washington and the University of Arizona recruited 45 human resource managers for an experiment looking to gauge the benefits of meditation in the face of stress.

They gave a third of them eight weeks of mindfullness-based meditation training, another third eight weeks of body relaxation training, and the last third no training at all and found that the mindful-meditation group reported less stress performing a stressful multitasking test than the other groups. 

4. Get Enough Sleep

We've all heard that we need at least eight hours of sleep, but the reality is that depending on your age that number can vary between three and eleven hours.

However, if you go too long without your right amount, what you end up with is a steep decline in concentration, energy, and vitality.

One study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that subjects limited to a mere 4.5 hours of sleep each night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. But when they went back to resuming normal sleep patterns, they saw a dramatic shift improvement in their mood. So, figure out your "normal" sleep pattern and stick to it

5. Shake it Up

Building daily exercise into your routine can work magic for dealing with everything you have on your plate as a busy small business owner.

According to the the Mayo Clinic, exercise works wonders by pumping up your endorphins to make you happier, helps you get in the flow to boost creativity, improving your sleep (see tip 4) and helping you remain calm regardless of what comes up. Especially when you consider that in the modern workplace, sitting literally is the new smoking.

See if you can find ways to build activity into daily tasks like conducting "walk and talk" meetings or take the stairs whenever possible. 

6. Take a Break from Email 

Here's a "did you know" fact for you:

23 percent of an average professional's day is spent emailing.

It's statistic that got researchers from the University of California to run a study where they cut off 13 employees from email for a total of five days and strapped heart monitors to their chest while simultaneously tracking their computer use. Not shockingly, after being cut off from email they found that employees were less stressed, focused on a single task for longer and cut down multitasking overall. 

7. Plan Ahead

When you run your own business, chances are your day to day involves making decisions left, right, center, and everywhere in between. However, researchers have long observed that we have a limited pool of cognitive resources when it comes to making decisions so it's probably best to reserve such a precious resource on things that really matter.

It might also be the reason why CEOs like the late Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg decide to wear the same thing each day, because it's one less thing in their life they needed to worry about.

Stanford researchers demonstrated our waning decision making powers when students in two groups were given the task of memorizing either two-digit or seven-digit numbers and then asked to decide between chocolate cake or a fruit bowl. Interestingly the students tasked with memorizing seven-digits were 50 percent more likely than the other group to choose cake over fruit. 

In other words, planning what you can ahead of time and leaving yourself less 'on the fly' stuff to worry about will allow you to make better decisions in your business. 

8. Go Analog More Often

There's a whole slew of research demonstrating that our current pace of digital consumption can have us leaning on the edge of technological addiction, depression, stress, sleeping disorders.

And when it comes to social media, it actually has the potential to make us more lonely, jaded and jealous.

Add to that pile the fact that we're constantly connected through our mobile devices after work hours and it all makes for a brain that never fully recuperates from one day's worth of work to get ready for the next.

In case you're wondering what a person's to do in today's digital world, try and find time to switch off, disconnect, and enjoy the simple pleasures of the analog world more often. 

Be sure to let us know if you currently use any of these stress hacks to run your business more effectively. Or, if there are others not on this list that you would whole-heartedly recommend to other entrepreneurs, let us know in the comments below.  

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