5 Habits of a Hard-Working Millennial Entrepreneur
I’ll share five things I’m working on, or have found are good indicators that I’m working on my full potential.
This post is a bit different, only because it’s Friday and I think this should be a quicker read, and because I think the weekends are a time when most people tend to shift gears from work to relaxing (and therefore have some extra time). Hopefully, you’ll find a habit here that you can adopt and start to weave into your new or growing side hustle or your day-to-day (and if you’re still working on making your passion project into a full-time career, read my previous post!)
I’ll be clear: these are not clearcut habits that I think are indicators of a successful business or businessperson, nor are they rules to follow. They are observations I’ve made of myself…when I’ve felt the most productive, or the most engaged in my work. I believe that I too, get stuck in a cycle of what I’m doing wrong or right and it’s helpful to read what others are doing that I can adopt.
With that said, I’ll share my top five habits.
5. Unplugged Lunch
This is an easy one to steal. It’s simple…unplug from your phone, computer, work, everything on your lunch break. That said, it is a two-part ask, in that it also asks you to take a lunch break. I get the general sense it’s very easy to just work through lunch, or watch youtube videos while you eat. What has been the best part about unplugging during lunch is that I have the ability to actually give something else my full attention – whether it’s a client, my dog, or my thoughts or my food….let’s unpack that.
Giving your client your full unplugged attention (so that means putting down your gear, taking headphones out, leaving your phone at your desk) allows you to lower your guard and be a bit more personal with your client. I’ve found this to be a really helpful rapport-building tool because they get the sense you’re a real human and not a work machine. It is good to show that you're passionate, but it’s much more valuable to show that you’re personable.
Giving something else your full attention allows you to be fully immersed in something else, refreshing your brain for the next stretch of work. If you’re by yourself, this is incredibly challenging, but try it: on your break, just sit with your thoughts. Let something percolate in your brain for the full 30 minutes or hour. It’s amazing what you can sort through when you’re not distracted. You’ll also, as a result, enjoy eating more. Like many others, my relationship with food has always been complicated. I try to think about, fully, what I’m eating, what it smells like, what each ingredient tastes like. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking you to change your food habits – I’m just suggesting that you really be thoughtful of your sustenance and its traits. Maybe it will encourage you to eat slower.
Finally, it’ll allow you to have an in-depth personal conversation with co-workers. Maybe pick someone’s brain about not what they are working on, but what their opinion is on something non-controversial. Again, this is a chance to actually have a meaningful connection with a person – something that has historically had a major role in workplace satisfaction and happiness.
This seems like an odd one, I know, but hear me out. Start a long-term thing that is constantly on the go. For me, it’s making Kombucha. Each batch is a three-week-long project from start to finish, but it has made an awesome conversation piece. It makes me feel interesting.
What can you start on the side that is low-maintenance, unrelated to your field, but you can be passionate about? I know a musician who loves coffee and has all the gadgets for making it. I have a client who loves tea from other countries. As the 90s commercial goes: “everybody’s got a thing…what’s your thing?”
I think that having ‘a thing’ not only makes you interesting but it also keeps your brain just a little more activated than normal, and here’s what I mean. With a long-term little project that has a schedule attached to it, like kombucha, or even gardening, you’ll need to think about if you need to pay attention to it, tend to it, bottle it, etc. and as a result, you’ll think about it a little bit every day. Just a little bit. It activates your brain to not worry about it, but to stay interested in it. Remember: this one has to be low-maintenance!
Let’s be clear, I’m not telling you to clean your room. I am suggesting, however, that you consider cleaning your desk, workspace, or office so that any clutter doesn’t actually start to bog you down. I know that when my office is messy, it actually stresses me out a bit because I know at some stage I will need to clean it. So instead, I just choose to keep it fairly organized and clean and fresh at all times. It’s not perfect, but I am not stressed about it.
I think the key here is being aware of when a messy space stresses you out. It is really high-level self-reflection, but stand back and ask “does that mess, that space makes me feel differently about what I do in that space?”. If the answer is yes, what can you do about it right now to improve that? I find marginal changes are helpful, but major overhauls are absolutely necessary.
Again, I’m not telling you to clean your room. I believe that an organized office or workspace is an indicator of how organized everything else is.
2. Pre-gig Routine
Before you go to work, before you go to a gig, or before you head out, there are some “rituals” I think get my mind in the right place so I can perform well. There are a few moving parts to it, but my pre-gig routine starts the night before. I take all my gear out, charge it all, make sure my memory cards are empty, and reorganize my bags. I also reflect on any email conversations, any notes, and look up the address of where I’m going. I do this the night before because it has an effect on how I wake up.
I’ve hacked my schedule in such a way that I can build up just the right amount of anticipation before work, that most of the time will make me wake up with more energy, stay energized through the day, and keep me on my toes. It is a nifty little hack that in part comes from having some anxiety, but also hyping yourself up for what’s to come.
The trouble with this is that it’s hard to do this every single day. My only advice would be to try to do this once a week.
The single most helpful habit that I’ve worked on for a long time is volunteering. Work on others before self, and serve something else. It teaches a number of things: boundaries, communication, selflessness, reflection….the list goes on.
I’m lucky enough to have found a non-profit where I can use my skills to help them achieve their goals, but I encourage anyone who doesn’t volunteer, to consider it. And it doesn’t have to be hours a week. It can be an hour a month. And also consider that volunteering doesn’t have to necessarily be doing something out of comfort zone (although that’s a good challenge, and bonus points if you do), but it can literally mean giving an hour of your skills away for free.
It’s not that you’re going to get waves of praise back, extra business, or anything tangible from it – but you will feel different. If you can pull yourself out of what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis, and break the routine a bit, you might feel a bit refreshed.
This is the number one habit you can develop because it asks a lot from you, and gives back in a very specific way.
And that’s it! Hopefully, you’re able to steal an idea or two from here. By no means is this a guide, but consider it as a pamphlet to thinking differently. It’s also a bit more of personal insight into how I work, and how I see good habits Through My Lens.