This is a guest post by Chris Hollindale, co-founder and CTO of Hasty. Hasty is a seed-funded stealth startup whose mission is to improve the health of humanity.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably measuring everything you possibly can about your business and your product. It’s how you improve things – you build, you measure and you learn. Why then, should you not take this same approach with yourself?
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As Dr. Piotr Wozniack says in his acclaimed essay on the science of sleep: “by cutting down on sleep, we learn less, we develop less, we are less bright, we make worse decisions, we accomplish less, we are less productive, we are more prone to errors, and we undermine our true intellectual potential!”
In order to perform to the best of your ability, you need to get good sleep and you need to get enough sleep. Good sleep enables better decision-making and faster learning, as well as reducing the risk of long-term health problems. For an entrepreneur, knowing the effect that late nights have on your sleep is particularly important – would you stay up for a couple of hours longer if you knew that it was going to mean you would sleep badly and be less productive tomorrow?
With Sleep101 (made by the sleep-tracking device maker, Zeo), not only can you get started with tracking your sleep for free, but you can also benefit from Zeo’s extensive library of expert sleep advice.
For entrepreneurs, there is always too much to do, too many things to take care of, and too many tasks to prioritise. In small start-ups especially, it is important that the limited amount of time you have is utilised wisely, and that it isn’t spread too thinly among the mountain of potential things that you could be doing at any one time.
In particular, you need to make sure that the time being spent lines up with the company’s priorities and short-term strategy, and to avoid scheduling meetings (or distractions) at times when you’re at your most productive.
This productive, uninterrupted “flow time” is crucial for the developers and designers in a small company (as an example, Asana recently announced that they have a “No Meeting Wednesdays” rule to encourage flow time). By tracking when this flow time typically occurs, it’s easier to design a schedule that minimises interruptions and allows makers to get more done.
I used to work as a consultant in London, where I despised filling in timesheets. Now an entrepreneur, I’ve come full circle. I use RescueTime to passively track what applications I’m using and what websites I’m spending time on – it even handily graphs and charts the data it collects for me. With RescueTime, I get all the benefits of being able to measure and improve my productivity, without any data entry pain at all.
RescueTime (Mac, Windows & Android; free and paid plans)
I find myself being overflowed with ideas over the course of the day, from wacky new product ideas to ways in which I can optimise a specific section of code.
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to track and harness those ideas that can make a positive difference to your company, no matter when they happen to arrive. It could be anything: over the last few days I’ve had ideas for new product features, potential advertising campaigns, strategies for hiring the right type of people to fit into our team, and ways of creating the company culture we want to build. They’re all important, and they all need recording.
I’ve found Workflowy to be the easiest and best tool for tracking my ideas – and its mobile versions allow me to note down ideas as and when they arrive, wherever I am. It’s an incredibly simple product, and sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.
Workflowy (Web & iOS; free)
If you really want to know your own body and truly quantify yourself, there is no better place to go than WellnessFX, whose service provides you with a more comprehensive health diagnosis than you could ever wish for. From just a drop of your blood, they can calculate your cholesterol, inflammation and nutrient levels, and over twenty other actionable data points.
Entrepreneurs lead an extreme lifestyle: working hard, working late and enduring many stresses, frustrations and failures is a tough business. As such, it makes sense to know that you’re not putting yourself at any kind of long-term risk. A particular cause of concern for entrepreneurs is caffeine intake – wouldn’t you want to know if all that coffee was causing adverse effects to your immune system? Additional caffeine might help you get some extra work done, but if it puts you at a greater risk of falling ill, is it really a worthwhile trade-off?
The analytics provided by WellnessFX can give you a detailed understanding of your own health, warn of any potential health risks, and is a great preventative measure. WellnessFX also provides tailored dietary recommendations in order to help you out where you have areas for improvement.
WellnessFX (Limited US states; Baseline package: $199)
In terms of your health, food consumption is the most important metric to be tracking – “you are what you eat.” If you have aspirations to feel fitter, healthier and more energetic, you should start by addressing the food that you’re eating.
Tracking everything that you eat, no matter how small, is an eye-opening experience. Did you know that Domino’s have a pizza on their menu that contains 3840 calories? Or that there are ten teaspoons of sugar in a can of Coke? When you add them up over the course of days, weeks and months, some of these nutritional figures can be frightening.
For entrepreneurs, feeling healthy and energized is not a choice; it’s a pre-requisite. By tracking what you eat with an app like MyFitnessPal, you become more self-accountable, which makes it easier to make lasting changes to your food consumption. There are many beneficial applications for entrepreneurs, from making sure your diet is not negatively affecting your energy levels to monitoring your net calorific consumption in order to help you lose weight.
But while MyFitnessPal allows you to track your food consumption, it doesn’t do it for you passively. A much-needed innovation in the food tracking space is a product that can ease the data entry burden.
MyFitnessPal (Web, iOS & Android; free)
Self-tracking is easy, and as per the 80-20 rule, you’ll get most of the benefit simply by getting started. As an entrepreneur you’re already aware of the benefits of measuring, learning and improving – why not get started today and use this same philosophy with more of your own life?