Entrepreneurs are constantly on the go. Their brains ticking over, new ideas, plans to action, a business to grow.
Engrossed in their work, disconnecting takes time and willpower, and even then their minds continue to churn.
So what is it that successful people do during their last waking hours to prepare for bed? Business Insider asked some of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs how they wind down, switch off and mental unload.
The techniques ranged from complete technology bans to relaxing with family or reflecting through meditation. Here is what they had to say.
Andre Eikmeier , Co-Founder and CEO of Vinomofo:
“My strongest advice – don’t do any planning or emails in the hour before you go to bed. You won’t sleep well, your mind will be racing, and you’ll probably have weird work dreams. Think about LIFE, or watch TV, or read a book, preferably fiction, something that stimulates the imagination. Cuddle your partner, for goodness’ sake! Because when you wake up in the morning and switch into game mode, you’ll be in that mode for at least the next 12-15 hours, most likely. Get into an early habit of switching out of work mode, even if you LOVE your work. Life is more than just your startup, no matter how consuming and stimulating that is. Ultimately, you’ll be more open to good ideas and you’ll have better focus. Plus you’ll have more chance of looking at the business from the outside, rather than if you’re immersed in it 24/7.”
Mitchell Harper, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Bigcommerce:
“Think about what went well today, what didn’t go so well and whether I should improve that tomorrow or leave it if it’s no longer important. I think about the ‘10,000 foot view’ of things every day as well.”
Karen Lawson, CEO of CareerOne:
“Before going to bed, entrepreneurs should do whatever makes them happy! There are very few ‘quiet hours’ in the day, so it’s good to use those last few hours to be mindful, to recharge our batteries. We are all different so that might be watching TV, chatting to a loved one or reading a book. The reality is that successful entrepreneurs really enjoy their work. For many of us, checking our phones and knowing we can go to bed feeling good with everything done for the day is relaxing too. Oh, they should also clean their teeth!”
Daniel Flynn, co-founder of Thankyou Group:
“Before bed I try to totally switch off from work because if I’m thinking about specific tasks or work issues, I find it hard to sleep. Getting a good night sleep for me is really important so I wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the next day ahead.”
Gabby Leibovich, Co-Founder and Director of Catch Group:
“I always check Twitter and my news feeds. My days are usually so busy I don’t have time keep up with the news, so bedtime provides a great opportunity to catch up on essential reading and general industry chatter. Plus, all the news from the US is breaking at night so it gives me a good head start on the new day.”
Mikey De Wildt, Co-Founder and CEO of Influx.com:
“Having a good night’s sleep is super important in order to have the energy to hit it hard the next day. Personally, I need to wind down in order to get a good sleep, so I like to do something that requires little to no cognitive load, like watching TV with a cup of chamomile tea to calm the mind.”
Natascha Moy Founder of Girlpower Goddess:
“My hour before bed is usually spent planning what I am going to do in the morning. I work very late at night and so the last hour is often a wrap of the day and a plan for the following day. Often I give myself a pep talk about how I will succeed especially if I have a specific event that is being sold at the time. I am not good at winding down like other people and I am not as routined as others I tend to be more spontaneous and I find that for me this works. I always have a cup of tea it is a way for me to relax and signals that the night is almost over.”
Dean Ramler, Co-Founder and CEO of Milan Direct:
“I spend the last hour of most nights turning off from everything electronic. I use this time to read a good book, and freshen the mind. I believe it’s important to go to sleep with a clear head, so you can get the rest needed to hit the ground running the following morning, whilst also freeing up the mind! I tend to read only business related books, and often find after reading before sleep, I wake up with many great ideas that I action first thing in the morning.”
Alan Jones Chief Growth Hacker, BlueChilli:
“In the last hour before you go to bed, unplug. No computer, phone time or interactive media (platform games, etc). If you need to read, read something not related to your work, so it doesn’t fill your head up with new ideas and tasks for the day ahead. Given entrepreneurs generally get to bed too late anyway, if you don’t unplug before you go to bed, you’ll waste your first hour trying to get to sleep. Since we all spend so much doing knowledge work during the day, it can help to do something simple, manual and repetitive, like ironing washing, working on a craft project, or playing a musical instrument (that last one only works if you already know how to play).”
Andy Sheats, Founder and CEO of Health.com.au:
“I relax with my wife and a glass of red. Obviously I can’t do that first thing in the morning!”
Alec Lynch, Founder and CEO of DesignCrowd:
“I write down in my notepad: 3 positives from the day just past, 3 things that I could have done better and top 3 things I’d like to do tomorrow. I will also try and meditate for 15 to 30 minutes.”
Dave Stevens, Managing Director of Brennan IT:
“I do something to take my mind off work and the troubles of the day – so I can sleep and get stuck back into it again in the morning.”
Eddie Machaalani, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Bigcommerce:
“Spend time with family and then when everyone’s gone to bed, read, read and read.”
Paul Greenberg, Founder and Executive Chairman of National Online Retailers Association:
“I recommend ‘Rampage of Appreciation exercises’ as recommended by Abraham-Hicks. He says, ‘Begin by looking around your immediate environment and gently noticing something that pleases you. Try to hold your attention on this pleasing object as you consider how wonderful, beautiful, or useful it is. And as you focus upon it longer, your positive feelings about it will increase.'”
Tania Seary, Founding Chairman of The Faculty, The Source and Procurious:
“That hour before bed for me is about reflection. I always think through what my team would have said to their family, friends and significant others about their day at work. I am in the people business. If my team isn’t engaged and motivated, I don’t have a business. It’s always about people.”
Gen George, Founder and CEO, OneShift:
“I’m constantly on the go so it’s always good to use that last hour of my day to relax and reflect, taking a few moments to appreciate what went right throughout the day so that I can better focus on solving any issues in the morning.”
Rosh Ghadamian, founder of Rozibaby:
“I like to wind down by reading up on topics that are totally unrelated to business. Currently that means for me, a couple of chapters of Game of Thrones just to switch modes entirely. This winds my brain down, my body down otherwise I’m thinking of my to-do list or big upcoming milestones for work.”
Founder of GP2U, Dr. James Freeman:
“Reflect on the day, envisage positive outcomes, disconnect from work. Spend time with family and friends and read (books, not emails!)”
Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM is Founder and Chairman of The Australasian College Broadway:
“The hour before I go to bed, I use as down time. Running a business can be stressful and all-consuming, but it is imperative for your own mental health, that you spend time away from the workload and focus solely on yourself. After an intense day at the office, however, it can be hard to simply turn-off, so I recommend making the bedroom an iPad and iPhone-free zone. You can also try using essential oils, lavender is my favourite, to create a sense of calm. For me, this hour is best spent focusing on the aspects of my life that aren’t business related – family, friends and hobbies.”
Alexandra Tselios, Founder and Publisher of The Big Smoke:
“The nuances between entrepreneurs directly impacts what works best for them in winding down their day. Some people prefer to completely switch off from work the moment they get home so they can detach; however, I’ve found the best thing I can do in the hour before going to bed is to reflect. This is not a passive meditative action so much as a way to look at the tangible results from my day. For example, the hour before I go to bed I will quickly flick through my emails and texts to ensure I didn’t miss anything important that required a time-sensitive response. I reflect on the day to come, and what my to-do list will comprise of. It is an exciting part of my day, as it is likely the only moment I really have to ‘stop’ and consciously meditate. Of course, my nightly ginger tea also adds to this contentment!”
Nick McDonald, Founder of Prestige Inhome Care:
“I try to switch off from work and do something that I have a passion for to unwind from the day and enjoy life a little. Even just sitting on the couch chatting with my wife and watching TV. This relaxes me and clears my head.
The reality is though, that I usually end up checking emails/answering messages and checking my calendar for what the next day holds. I’ll always try to avoid doing this or using social media right before bed though in favour of a good book, as I find that too much technology before sleeping can cause a restless night’s sleep.”
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