Maintaining Balance when Bootstrapping A Startup

When I was working on my first startup idea in 2011, I followed the same process that most other bootstrapping early-stage founders were doing; Wake up, go to day job, come home, work on startup till the wee small hours, sleep only when necessary and coffee doesn’t work. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Time to Switch Off

After a few months or so of this cycle, I started finding it difficult to focus, hard to sleep and my productivity had plummeted. Eventually a whole week had passed and very little progress was made. I decided to take some time away from my laptop, and let myself forget about my work for a while.

However even this proved difficult, as I couldn’t completely ‘switch off’ from work, constantly thinking of what needed to be done and how to do it. After a chat with my good friend Joel I realised that switching from one extreme to the other is unlikely to work, it’s just the way we’re wired. If we had any sanity we wouldn’t be building our own startups after all!

So I decided enough was enough, and tried to match my working hours to my energy levels. At the start of the week I would make sure I wokeup at 5:30am, and worked for an hour before getting ready to go to work. This proved very productive, having made more progress in that one early morning hour than I would have normally achieved in a single evening, to the point where I was frustrated I had to stop working to go to my day job, i.e. I had regained my enthusiasm.

Towards the end of the week, as I was getting used to this new routine I’ve been waking up at 5am, though I’ve been partially awake just before the alarm went off. In the evenings, instead of coding I focus on low-energy work like reading and paperwork.

Pick me Up

However, even though I’ve found it much easier to wakeup in the morning now that I sleep earlier, I still needed a little extra kick to get me going. I’ve been substituting my morning coffee with green tea each morning, which gave me just enough of a boost to get working without the crash of coffee. I’ve also recently discovered Matcha Tea, and will be trying that over the following week.

Overall my new routine have helped me remain productive and happier when working, and on recommendations from Joel and a few other blogs, I’ll gradually add an exercise routine.

Do you have a healthy startup routine? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Photo Credit: stollerdos

Vik Bhatti

I'm a devops guy working in London. I'm obsessive about collecting data about myself to make data-driven health & fitness decisions and boost my productivity.

London, UK