Startup Zen Lesson 1: How To Become A Stress-Free Workaholic


People, I have a confession to make. When I’m scouring the world wide web to bring you all the best startup stories, advice, how-to what have yous, it’s usually a selfish pursuit. How dare you, Holly! Wait a sec, let me explain. You see, like most people (should be) I’m always on a self-improving mission.



"Self-improving mission" in Valle de la Luna, Chile



When I’m feeling cynical, I’ll write about how to be more positive. If I’m unmotivated, I’ll find motivational tips to get my arse (and yours) into gear. And when I’m feeling stressed, like I have been recently, I’m determined to fill my brain, and this blog, with lessons on how to chill. With all these life lessons to learn, and a new year to crush, I thought I would start a weekly column on how to find your startup (and life) zen. Lesson 1 – Becoming a stress-free workaholic.


1. Take a Mind-Clearing Break

Workaholics tend to, well, work a lot, obviously. But sometimes, and we’ve all been there, the brilliant ideas aren’t popping and the productivity juices aren’t flowing, no matter how hard we focus or how much we slave away.





When you feel the stress rise, just stop. Walk away from the computer, spreadsheet or conference room and get a beer. Take a walk. Do some yoga. Go home to your significant other and give them some sugar. Creative ideas have a hard time breaking through a clouded, overworked mind, so clear it. For more advice on brain rejuvination, check out Dr. Geil Browning top tips here.


2. A Little Business, a Little Pleasure

In the spirit of mind-clearing breaks, mixing a little business with a little pleasure is also a sure-fire way to both feed your workaholism while having a little fun (and boosting team moral). Instead of trying to have a brainstorming sesh in the conference room after an already stressful day, take your team out for a little dinner on the company. That way everyone is relaxed, well-fed, (maybe even a little well-oiled) and refreshed. This will likely result in more creative ideas, higher productivity and happier employees. Happy and stressful usually don’t party together.





3. Keep the Drama for your Momma

Actually, your momma doesn’t need your drama, either. Whether it’s being short with your employees or unpleasant with your family, it’s easy to take our own stress and frustration out on others. And why not? If we can’t be chilled, no one should be. The problem is, by projecting our negativity on others, we create a perpetually stressful and unproductive environment. As per the above two lessons, find another stress-relieving outlet, people. Don’t take it out on other living things. Take it out on a punching bag or something.


4. Work Smarter, Not Harder

I LOVE this saying. People tend to believe that hard work and long hours equates to success. Not necessarily. 5 hours of “smart” work hours is way more efficient that 12 hours of “slow” work hours. What does that mean, exactly? Well, there are a few ways boost your work IQ:





  • Plan, strategize and prioritize – Running a business comes with endless to-do lists. Instead of overwhelming yourself with tedious tasks, figure out what are the most important things of the day, and make a plan to get them done first. The other stuff can wait till tomorrow.
  • Don’t be Last Minute Charlie – Things always come up last minute. Fine. But important projects left until the last minute create the ultimate stress attack. Whenever you can help it, give yourself some breathing room to complete projects so you can have time to make sure they’re done right (and not in an all-nighter fury).
  • Bust arse, then breathe – There are times when long hours and hard work are necessary (think launch, big pitch, etc). Great! Bust your bum and put in the work, but make sure you do the smart thing and take a break after an all-out work week or month (hopefully it’s not more than that).


Right, I hope you workaholics found some zen in these stress-relieving tips. I know I’ll be taking a few on board (even though I don’t really fancy myself a workaholic. By some definitions, another type of “holic” better fits my bill). You know, I should really stop inferring that I’m a booze hound. New Year’s resolution #72846.


Photo Credits

Author’s photos | Free Digital Photos