I have a quick story for you today.
I started my first business when I was 22, and I worked insane hours. I was doing IT services, running all over DC, Maryland, and Virginia fixing computers, setting up computer networks, all of that kind of thing. When I got home I had to do everything else for the business: tracking expenses, sales, marketing, operations, sending invoices, the whole nine yards. Everything else to run the business I did after I had worked eight to ten hours.
I had to figure out how to fuel myself up to have these insanely long days. I started drinking a massive amount of coffee. I also wasn’t eating right. I was a mess. Ultimately I was working for about three weeks, and then the fourth week I would get sick. My body would say, “You need some rest,” and it would force me to have rest by putting me completely out of commission.
In a given month I was only 75% effective because I was eating poorly, I wasn’t getting enough rest, and I was fueling myself with caffeine, which no person is meant to do for a long time if they want to maintain their health. It certainly didn’t work for me.
So my tip today for avoiding burnout and maintaining clarity is this: get some frickin’ sleep. Just get some sleep. Do it.
I know you have a drive to build your business as quickly as possible. I know that our culture applauds people that will work 80, 90 hours a week in order to build their business.
I am here to tell you from personal experience that is unhealthy, and not only is it unhealthy, it’s completely unnecessary.
Why is it unnecessary?
Because if you use other techniques including super aggressive prioritization and getting other people to help you, and you get rest, you will have a clear head, you will know what to work on, when to work on it, and you will actually be able to move a lot faster.
The Navy Seals have a great motto: Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. They will practice something over, and over, and over again until they can do it very smoothly. In doing so, they can move, not quickly, but they can move with a purpose of action that is completely flawless. As an example, the bin Laden raid lasted about 15 minutes. 15 minutes they were on the ground, did everything they needed to do, got all of the computer hard drives and everything, and were out. In and out in 15 minutes. That’s amazing. They did not rush through anything. No one on their side got killed, none of that. Everything went flawlessly because they had practiced it.
They started practicing by moving slowly, then doing it a bit faster, and then they got to the point where they could execute with complete precision without having to rush through it. That absolutely paid off.
If elite special forces says that, why do we have to work crazy, insane amounts of hours in our businesses thinking that it’s actually going to get us ahead?
Another applicable concept is the law of diminishing returns, which states that at a certain point you become ineffective. I can say that even after a couple days of not getting much sleep at all, working 10, 12, 14-hour days regularly, I literally will get to the end of the day, and I won’t be able to recall what I did at all in the morning.
Who wants to live like that? That’s horrible. Perhaps you want to blank out most of your day, but I definitely don’t. I want have a good memory of what the heck I did that day.
So, if you want to avoid burnout and maintain clarity, get some rest. Get some rest. Get seven to eight hours a night. If you think that you can run on five or six hours, try that out. If you are coherent and you can remember everything that you did throughout that day by the end of the day, okay. Try that, if that works for you. Some people that absolutely works for.
For a majority of the people I have ever known in my life, and I’ve known tens of thousands of people, they need to get seven to eight hours of sleep.
And remember that your brain rewires itself at night. There’s a lot of science we won’t get into proving that. But for today, just get some frickin’ rest.