Being a startup founder is tough. Combining a full-time job with building your venture is even tougher.
While it would be great to have enough savings to go full-time on your entrepreneurial journey, this is a rare case. Before you get to the point of leaving your day job, you might want to optimize the use of your free time. London App Brewery suggested the following 5 tips on how to be productive at any time.
1. Caffeine Titration
Caffeine is an age old stimulant this is well-known for its efficacy as”liquid motivation”.
But, any pro coffee drinker will know that if you take too much of it you will be bouncing off the walls and if you under-dose then you won’t get the full effect. As with any drug, caffeine has a half life, meaning that it is slowly being metabolized by your body, leading to your caffeine crash.
Drink about 30min prior to starting your work, sip slowly and top up frequently.
-The mantra of a caffeine-addict.
The amazing doctors at Penn State University developed an app called Caffeine Zone. It graphs the predicted caffeine concentration in your blood versus the “optimum” range and alerts you to take more when you’re getting washed out.
2. The 20-Minute Mindset
This mostly applies to after-work motivation.
It’s so easy to sit on the couch and switch on the TV. Once you open your house door without a solid work plan for your evening, you’ve already lost that evening.
Have you ever thought, “I’ll just relax a bit, give myself a break then I’ll get to work”. This never seems to work. Why? Something called inertia.
Once you’re sat on that comfy couch or loaded up Facebook, you’ll need Herculean strength to switch to a productive task. But you can use inertia in your favour, too.
If you chose to work on a particular business idea, there is usually some aspect of it that you find fascinating. Sometimes you get into “the flow” so you just don’t want to stop until the task is finished
The way to capitalise on this evolutionary productivity hack is to have the 20 minute mindset. If you get home with the intention to just work for 20 minutes on your project, be it your project or anything else you want to work on, you can trick your brain into capitulating. 20 minutes is such a short amount of time that your brain will view it as low commitment. This mindset is important.
But first, don’t forget to prioritize tasks you want to accomplish.
3. The Dreaded Postprandial Dip
That’s the academic term for that sleepy, can’t be arsed feeling you get after lunch a.k.a “the food coma”.
The scientific explanation for this phenomenon is the insulin spike that occurs after a significant amount of carbohydrate intake. Insulin is secreted in response to carbs and gets your body ready for digestion-related activities.
To be productive, we really want to avoid this.
The weapon of choice most people choose is caffeine. This is the wrong approach. Because you’ll take yourself over the optimal caffeine level and will inevitably crash harder when you stop taking caffeine in order to sleep. The correct answer is frequent, low carb, high protein meals and snacks around lunch time.
On a productive weekend, you could have a small snack at 11AM, e.g. celery or hummus, then a medium-sized lunch with mostly proteins e.g. grilled chicken or sashimi or beef, and then have another small snack at 4PM e.g. almonds + cashew. It’s not about weight loss, it’s about putting high octane fuel into your body in order to function like a Maserati rather than an old Fiat.
4. The 3PM Workout
If you go to the gym or go for a jog that increases your heart rate and gets your circulation going, you’ll feel more awake and more motivated to continue your good work.
This might help you prevent a productivity drop which happens after 2pm if you stop consuming caffeine by that time.
Some people might think going for a workout will take time away from their work. But it’s more a question of efficiency. If you work 2 hours at 20% efficiency you will achieve less than the person that works 30 minutes at a max efficiency.
Get a good gauge of your own efficiency, then try to maximize and optimize it.
5. The Pomodoro Technique
This is a fantastic technique when you are trying to learn something new.
The idea is that you work for 25 minutes, break and walk around for 5 minutes then restart the pomodoro, alternating between work and play. The reason why it works best in studying because it leverages the way that human memory works. Memory is thought to be formed when we change the connections and strength of connections between our neurones. It’s been found that memory formation works best in short bursts surrounding key events. This is why in a typical 1 hour lecture, you tend to remember only the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes.
There are a number of awesome iPhone and Mac apps that offer a free pomodoro timer. But you can do it yourself too. Just set your timer to 25 minutes, then give yourself 5 minutes break and force yourself to grab some water or walk around.