It’s a pop culture trope—an individual or a group of people are working hard on a tough project, burning the midnight oil, eating cheap takeout. Sleepless nights and easy food get associated with everything from tech startups to high-powered law firms to hard-working college students. The assumption is that if you work hard, you don’t have time to take care of yourself. And while it’s doubtless true that some projects require an all-nighter, and not everyone always has time to cook, allowing too-late nights and unhealthy food to become the norm is never a good idea. That’s doubly true for entrepreneurs—not only will it hurt your health, but your business will suffer too.
If you’re trying to start or run your own business, you know you’re never really off the clock. That’s one of the main reasons entrepreneurs fall into unhealthy but convenient habits. But while you might think you’re saving time by not exercising or grabbing fast food, that lifestyle will leave you with no energy and ultimately make you less productive. It might seem difficult, but making exercise your top priority can actually pay big dividends in your work. With exercise in particular, it even pays to encourage your employees to take the time to prioritize their fitness. Losing one hour at gym will more than make up for itself in productivity gains at the office!
Taking the time to stay healthy also gives you extra motivation. As much as you might think it doesn’t, a lackadaisical approach to your personal life will bleed over into your professional life. Since healthy eating and exercise are two things you can completely control, setting goals and accomplishing them can give you extra motivation to do the same at work. And let’s not forget that exercise and healthy eating make you look and feel better, making you more confident and ready to meet the challenges your business will inevitably face.
Finally, it’s equally important not to try to make up for time in the kitchen or at the gym by skipping sleep. Getting too little sleep makes anyone distracted, irritable, and unproductive. Even if you think you do well enough on less than six hours, you might be surprised how much better and more efficient you’d be with a solid night’s sleep. If you have employees, it’s also important to encourage them to get enough sleep. Letting them regularly work late or through the night—even on important projects—almost guarantees a worse product or outcome.
Everybody knows healthy eating, exercise, and good sleep are important to your long-term health, but you don’t have to compromise between long term-health and short-term success. Taking the time to stay healthy, fit, and well-rested will pay for themselves when you’re more focused, energized, and confident in your business.