Posted by Kristin Dziadul | February 18, 2015
I was too hard on myself. Straight out of college I was hired at a Boston tech startup and was thrown into the unknown. A rollercoaster ride of happiness, enthusiasm, exhaustion and doubt. What did I get myself into?! I slowly came to terms with what joining a startup meant, and honestly, I loved it. But so many people don’t understand what it means to join a startup since it’s the complete opposite of a corporate desk job. The important piece I want to convey here today is that you always need to take care of yourself no matter how stressful or busy work gets (and this applies to non-startup people too) and to pay even closer attention to doing so when you’re preparing the ultimate period of time called product launch.
Getting into the startup mindset
Joining a startup doesn’t mean working 9-5, leaving your computer at work, and having a ton of time off. It means getting in when you need to (sometimes that’s 7am, sometimes 10am) and leaving when you’re done (many times that’s 6 or 7pm). It means your work doesn’t end when you walk out of the office. You’re lugging that laptop with you to be on call for emergencies, such as that crazy customer tweeting off the hook, or the website going down at midnight. And while many startups are now giving unlimited time off, the fact is people treat that quite the opposite — hardly anyone takes time off!
This is all to say that times will get tough, but they’re tough for a reason. Breaking into a new market or developing something truly innovative isn’t easy. So long as you’re passionate about what you and your team are building and how it’s going to change the world, your time and efforts will be worth it. But they will only be worth it if you follow the below steps to take proper care of yourself throughout.
Getting into the startup launch mindset
Launches are fun, stressful, and rewarding all at the same time. The best thing I can say here is embrace the craziness. But because you’ll likely be putting in even more hours and manpower, you absolutely must take care of yourself — body and mind — to be effective during this time. Here are a few tips:
How to take care of yourself
Whether in launch mode or not, there are several things that have helped me through those crazy, long, testing times in startup land.
- Breathe! When stress kicks in, our breath gets shallow and rapid which reduces the amount oxygen to our brains, thus hampering our thought processes and alertness. It may also lead to headaches, which, for any of you with migraine problems, knows this can literally kill a day.
- Let loose a little! Whether it’s grabbing a cocktail with co-workers or friends after a long hard day, or having a little extra fun on the weekend, do it! You earned it. You don’t (and can’t) be in startup and product launch mode 100% of the time or you’ll face burnout, so make time to have some fun and forget it all for a moment.
- Laugh! They say that laughter is one of the best cures to anything. Maybe you have a funny co-worker, enjoy reading the comics, or watching a downright stupid-funny YouTube video. Whatever it is, find some time to smile and laugh. It’ll release a lot of tension and bring endorphins to your brain, which improves alertness and satisfaction.
- Don’t take it too personal. This is a mistake I make all too often. I take my work too personally. I’ll sit around worrying about how someone will react to my latest blog post write up or if my AdWords campaign is running as efficiently as possible. At the end of the day, you have to know that you’ve done your absolute best and sometimes you just have to let it go. Breathe and shut that part of your mind off if things start to bother you that are sometimes out of your control, and focus on enjoying other aspects of work or life that you can control.
- Get sleep. When something so big is on the line, it’s definitely hard to sleep. Many times during my launches this past year I found myself lying in bed in the early hours of the morning writing down ideas on my phone since I couldn’t sleep without getting them out. I’d also find myself on the couch cranking on my announcement blog post at 4am, and still working on launch items all the way up until 8pm if not later. While this is okay on occasion, you’ll quickly burnout if you make this a regular habit. Instead, if you are exhausted but still have a lot to do, aim to go to bed early, sleep for 7-8 hours, and wake up refreshed to get everything done with a better mindset and alertness.
- Workout. I’m big into fitness (see my new site FitPaleoLife to see why). Working out is an incredible way to produce endorphins, sweat out stress, and leave it all behind. While you may not think you have time, that’s actually a signal that you should. Whether it’s a 6am workout, a jog during lunch, or a group fitness class after work, do it, you need it.
- Get a massage. Feel your shoulders right now. Tense? I thought so. So are mine. Sitting at a computer stressed out for 12 hours a day will do that to you. Take some time to relieve all that pent up stress in your muscles to relax your entire body and mind. I try to get a massage once every few months, if not more often, to give my muscles a break and remind myself to stretch more, breathe, and pay close attention to my overall wellbeing.
While it’s a crazy time, staying stifled in the office and thinking 24/7 about one thing isn’t helpful to anyone as it stifles creativity. Taking a break and walking away from your computer for a while really helps to reset your mind.
What’s in it for you?
If you haven’t yet launched your own project, product or service, take the opportunity of launching those of others as a great big learning opportunity so that if you ever do plan to launch your own something, you’ll have the skills and process in place to do a great job on your own! I sure was glad I had several launches under my belt when it came to doing my own.
Extending your Reach
We’re a full-service digital marketing firm in Boston specializing in early stage startup marketing and launches. We’ve been there, we completely get it, and we love it. If you need an extra hand getting marketing content out there or prepping for a launch, please get in touch!