It may seem our co-founders are going 100 miles a minute and they’re often asked how amidst it all they manage to look after themselves, if at all. But Emeka and Ifeyinwa are big believers in “your health is your wealth”. So, they’ve shared the six well-being habits they’ve built over the last few years which are helping them be better entrepreneurs.
1) Switch Off
Emeka: WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Text, work e-mail, personal e-mail . . . thank you for the day’s connectivity but it’s 10pm. Now, everything off! I love my phone as much as the next millennial, so initially, I feared I'd be missing out on important messages from friends and family. The reality is that “emergency” very rarely happens or that really important message can wait until the next day. You don’t even have to switch your phone off, just slip on flight mode and chuck it in the drawer. Pick it up again at 8am the next day. That’s 10 hours of blissful non-connectivity.
Ifeyinwa: Bliss is 100% the right word. I love it! Similarly to Emeka, I disconnect in the evening and won’t check messages until I’ve had my me-time the next morning. I also try and do one day a week where I’m completely off social media.
Ifeyinwa: I think sleep is in my top three hobbies – I love it shamelessly! People that propagate the “sleep when you’re dead” narrative are unhealthy. I’ll happily take my 8 hours please. When I’m rested I’m a lot more resilient and handle business challenges better. I’m also able to think more creatively, coming up with more solutions. Tiredness is normalised in today’s society but we’re not supposed to wake up feeling tired nor should we need alarm clocks to get up. I took a break last year which completely rejuvenated me and that’s when I realised how unnatural our society’s always-tired feeling is. So, now I take a moment to recognise how I feel when I first wake up. If I’m waking up tired, I know I haven’t got the sleep I need and need to look at what adjustments I can make. I’ve also stopped using an alarm clock on most days and If I’m unable to wake up at the time I want without an alarm, then I know for sure I’m going to bed too late.
3) Take time to reflect
Emeka: Every day I write down a list of at least ten things that I'm grateful for. I do this every morning, so I'm reflecting on the day before. It's an easy thing to find time for each day but it makes a big difference to me. Usually I do it right at the start of the day before I leave my room but if I'm in a rush I might pen it on the train to a meeting. Beyond big wins, I often recall the small things, such as the little boy who I saw hugging his mum on the bus. I am also thankful for challenges I might have had the day before - grateful that I have another day to tackle them again and that I must have grown from them as I'm still here. I also like to reflect on the impact I’ve had on others, such as friends who have confided in me and who I’ve been able to help. From time to time, you unlock a gratitude treasure chest and the positive emotion just overflows and you want to rush to thank everyone in your phonebook. Every day it leaves me happier.
Ifeyinwa: For me, my diary is my everything. Take my phone. Take my laptop. I’ll survive. But don’t take my diary. In fact, I love it so much I have two. One, which is normally a pretty notebook in which I write down everything on my mind that morning and at the end of each week where I write down all my personal wins. Then I have my one line-a-day journal. It runs for five years: each page allows me to write an entry for the same date over a five-year period. So when I write today’s entry I’ll be able to see what I did the year before and the year before that. It reminds me of little moments I’d forgotten and also shows me how much I’ve progressed with certain challenges. I love looking through it.
For me, writing is like pressing pause on life and it gives me the space to do a personal check-in. I’ve had friends tell me they’ve tried and failed to keep a diary. But it’s not something you can “fail” at. It can just take you a while to develop the habit. And there’s no wrong or right way to do it. A great starting point is that one-line-a-day journal.
4) Keep active
Emeka: I know it’s fashionable now to be a gym rat, and if you saw my Instagram stories you probably think I’m one too. But I’m not obsessed with the gym, I’m obsessed with being active. Our bodies are such wonderful machines, I love to see them develop functionally. I just think it’s amazing how over time one can train themselves to swim a mile, lift more than their own bodyweight, or walk in handstand – when they couldn’t do any of these things a few months before. And for me, exercise goes beyond physical conditioning, it’s more mental – building a mind over matter mentality, whilst helping to clear my mind on those dark days, providing a dopamine kick which is more intense than a double espresso.
5) Say no more (even to yourself)
Ifeyinwa: Because there are seven days in a week I used to take that to mean there were seven days for me to work, play or both. I failed to allocate a day, or even an hour, for rest. Now, I’ve stopped trying to pack out my schedule and I’m more realistic about how much I can do in a week or month before I start to feel drained. For example, if I’ve already got one or two social engagements in a week, I’m not adding any more to my diary. Even if it looks like I’ve got a “free” afternoon or evening, I’m still not adding more to my diary, because in truth that’s not “free” time. I’ve learnt that that’s time that my body and mind needs to recharge. Practising this has meant saying no a lot more, which can make you unpopular, but I’m trying to adopt a sustainable way of living – so just because I could do something doesn’t mean I should.
6) Take regular breaks
Emeka: I take breaks weekly – fasting days! For me, these breaks are just as important as getting out the city. It’s about giving my body a moment to tune into my surroundings and what I truly need rather than just processing consumed material. On some days it can be quite tough. But I often find my mind is more alive on those days, sensitive to opportunities and good things happen!
Ifeyinwa: I try to get out of London every few months, even I’m just going somewhere an hour train ride away and in between that time, I take regular trips to my park to just sit and decompress. For me, there’s something very calming about sitting by water surrounded by greenery and it has a similar effect to being sat on a beach.
And so, I’ve stopped thinking I need to get on a plane far away to have a break and started planning mini-breaks into my week. Strangely, I’ve found it’s made me enjoy holidays more because I’m less concerned about them coming to an end, because I know it’s not the only break I’m going to get