Startup fever: four tips for surviving through the frenzy phase

Time well spent: how to keep your health, sanity and wits while creating a new business.

A lot of the companies and ventures we talk about here at SmartPlanet are either from-the-ground-up startups, driven by entrepreneurs, or new initiatives launched within the walls of existing organizations.

Either way, for participants, it means an exhilarating ride, full of hope, plans and visions of making the world a better place. The energy and pumped-up excitement over creating something new and having people willing to buy into your new venture is more stimulating than caffeine. I was fortunate to have been part of startups in my career, including the launch of a series of regional career publications across the nation aimed at the healthcare sector, and later being part of the initiation and launch of a research company serving the IT sector.

And, as anyone who's been involved in a startup can testify, be ready to put your personal life on hold for a while. Alex Payne recently described his experience being part of the launch and growth of Twitter, letting his health and stamina suffer.

Now part of another new venture, BankSimple, Alex describes how to be part of the 24x7 frenzy of a startup, without letting it get the best of you:

  • Exercise: Very important. Find the time every day for a workout. "Startup life will sap your energy," Alex points out. "At first, it’s easy to operate on sheer enthusiasm. Over time, though, even the most exciting job becomes work.... I find that [working out] energizes my mind. If I exercise regularly, I don’t get antsy during the day."
  • Diet: Alex has some very simple rules: avoid carbs, sugar and alcohol. "I don’t count calories, monitor the glycemic index of the foods I’m eating, or try to aggressively induce 'phases' of weight loss. I just try to eat fresh vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, nuts, and fresh fruit.... By sticking to the above rules, my energy level throughout the day remains the same. Removing the sugar and carbs means that I don’t peak and trough."
  • Meditation: Also very important, at least twice a day to clear your mind and reduce stress. "Meditation cuts right through feelings of being stressed-out and overwhelmed, and neatly organizes thoughts and emotions," says Alex. "More than once, I’ve been meditating and have had the solution to a problem I’ve been struggling with pop to the forefront of my mind. That’s time well spent."
  • Time management: "I’m less crazed this time around the startup block because I feel that I have a better grasp on how to manage my time, both during the workday and when I’m off the clock," says Alex. "If you’re burned out for the day, stop working; go relax, exercise, or meditate, and come back to work with renewed energy and focus....  Time management is less a set of techniques than a mindset, albeit one assisted by social skills that allow you to defend your time and sanity."

For a great perspective on time management, Alex recommends this lecture by Carnegie-Mellon's Randy Pausch -- a professor who understood the value of making the most of limited time.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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