I always knew I wanted to have my own business, but I worked plenty of low-wage jobs before I started building companies. I painted houses, mowed lawns, that kind of thing. My first company was started while I was working as an usher at a movie theater. In between cleaning the theaters and sweeping up, I would think of business ideas I could start and write them down on pieces of paper.
Over time the company grew and evolved, and years later with the birth of kidlet #2 (where did all my free time go?!) I was looking at my life and thinking about my own definition of success. I’ve always remembered something someone said about parenting. “You only really have 12 years of influence with your kids, and then you see how well you did.”
That really affected me. Since my businesses mostly run themselves, I decided to simply work less to free up time, but quickly discovered that my own work habits were holding me back.
My days were full of interruptions. I was constantly changing my focus, and instead of having a plan for my day and sticking to it, I spent a lot of time and energy reacting to other people’s priorities instead of my own. It didn’t help that I was bouncing in and out of email all the time, which is an easy way to get knocked off-track.
I thought it was just me because people don’t talk about it much. (I now believe it’s because everyone wants to seem busy, organized and successful to everyone else.) When I did tell other entrepreneurs (including successful folks, people making 7-figures a year) almost everyone said, “me too, let me know what you learn”.
I started reading books and following studies about how the wiring in our brains affects behavior (cognitive psychology) and concluded that humans are simply not wired to sit at a computer typing for 8 hours a day. Sure, we can sit there, and we can type, but we just won’t produce great stuff all day long. We have a few hours of creative awesomeness in us per day, and the trick is to make sure that happens at all, not to pretend it happens all day long.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. :)
I started implementing new guidelines for working, slowly at first and then more aggressively. I ran experiments on myself and friends, and slowly patterns emerged. I kept on experimenting and implementing, until I was getting a lot more work done in less time, and replacing the wasted time with either learning new things (currently diving into video production) and even more time with my family. I’m also in better shape because I spend some of the extra time I gained taking better care of myself.
PS: Unexpectedly, I’ve also found that spending more time being relaxed has been great for creativity and my business in general.
This site is for sharing what’s working for me, and I hope it helps you too.
Thanks for checking out the site.
Aaron Dragushan has been starting and growing businesses since 1993. Clients have included Reader’s Digest, CNBC and Crest, with press coverage in the Wall Street Journal, PC Magazine and the BBC News. His businesses now run on auto-pilot, leaving him free to pursue new ventures such as UpgradeMe (a community for entrepreneurs) and take time off to play with his kids whenever they’ll put up with him.