Starting a business anywhere is hard, but startup founders today are in a uniquely privileged position today thanks to the media, who like to portray them as cool kids and modern heroes who succeed against all odds to survive.
Much has been written for and about startup founders, but what about the people who help carry their goals forward? What about the startup employees? Without the buffer of privilege given to a startup founder, we’re doubly vulnerable to the stress and craziness that comes with working at a startup. If you’re a startup employee, here are a few tips to help you preserve your health and sanity.
Get some sleep
Nights out and 6-day/100+ hour work weeks are not going to get things done faster. This kind of working style is not sustainable, because moving fast like that will only wreck your body and slow you down in the long run. A sleep-deprived human is more likely to take shortcuts, make mistakes and leave behind a mess. Moving fast and breaking things looks good on t-shirts, but it’s pointless to break things just to convince yourself you’re moving fast.
Follow the 3-day rule
The 3-day rule was taught to me by one of the co-founders of my company – plan the tasks that you need to do for the next three days only, and no further. This is a good way to deal with fast-changing priorities that renders a long-term work strategy useless.
When you see the CEO working off-hours and weekends, you feel a certain pressure to work the same hours and be available at all times. The simplest solution? Switch off. Believe me, the CEO doesn’t care how many hours you work per day – they have more productive things to do than monitor your working hours. All they want to know is whether you’re getting things done. Close your laptop, switch off your phone and relax. The guilt goes away once you can’t see who’s online.
Keep a diary
I keep a tiny notebook to jot down my thoughts and experiences each day. If I don’t have a notebook, my phone’s note app will do. Writing is therapeutic, even if you think you aren’t a great writer. It helps you expel the demons in your head, leaving a clean mental slate for the next day.
Don’t get sold on the hype. Remember this – at the end of the day, a startup is a business. Startups like to market themselves as disruptive and anti-corporate, but every major corporation began as a startup. They got where they are today by consistently turning profits. This is the bottom line: surviving, staying in business and making a profit. Everything else—culture, disruption, breaking things, etc.—is secondary.
Get ready for the rollercoaster.
About the Author
Parvathi Vijaymohan is content creator at WowMakers and CrowdStudio.