Just over a year ago, I walked straight out of college having got my A levels into the big wide world. I’d had it all planned out for at least a year and my head was full of ideas about what life would be like out of education.
Unlike most, I didn’t apply to university for various reasons but one of the main reasons being I’d already paved my own future in the form of my own software and web development company and I was lucky enough to enter into a considerably big contract mid-way through my final year at college. I didn’t let my grades slip but from that point on I was counting down the days until I could focus solely on my business.
Sure enough to start with I powered through work. However, I’m not entirely sure if I was any more productive than I was at college – I don’t really remember what it was that I was doing. About a month into self-employment I started flagging on Sundays and not really being able to do anything that required brain power, but I’d had a long week – that starts to happen to everyone, right? Well, shortly after that it started happening on Saturdays too, then Fridays, then most mornings actually.
Then it hit me. College didn’t just represent education to me, it gave me a place to be social and to go to get out of the house for a bit. Two things I hadn’t done very often since I left. It also meant people did sometimes interrupt me from solving complex problems to do something I could do with ease – talk.
It took me a while to realise that this could have such an impact and to appreciate that my brain does actually get tired. I’ve often said that we are a long way off fully understanding our brains-they are possibly evolution’s biggest feat-and I definitely underestimated how important keeping your brain refreshed is.
The importance of striking a healthy balance between work, rest and play (for the want of a better word) is really what I want to get across here, and as you have read I can vouch for it first hand. It doesn’t just make you more productive, it improves your ability to think and learn, it helps to create a structure which personally helps me to relax and stay calm, it reduces stress, it does make you feel more positive overall and you’ll probably find that you’ll have more time.
I’m the managing director of Lyke Ltd. and a boss, but I have time to volunteer in the evenings and on weekends now. I also run an educational charity called Counting Hope, and recently I organised an event for students within the region. I can do all that because I now hot desk during the week between 8:30 AM and 5 PM. My mind recognises that I work there, not at home, so on the journey home my brain can switch off and forget about anything that happened until the next time I hot desk, leaving me to focus on other things that I enjoy doing including volunteering/charity work and working out. Of course there are times when I have to bend that rule because after all I have certain responsibilities to my clients, but the key is to be disciplined enough to make those occasions as rare as possible. My house now feels more like home rather than an office that I can’t escape from.
Working out is the final thing I’d like to touch because it is really important, to me especially. Not only does working out make you more healthy but it also releases endorphins that make you feel happy and positive. For me there’s a third reason as well; whilst my brain might need a rest, typing doesn’t exactly use a great deal of energy so if I didn’t work out/exercise I’d have struggle getting to sleep and my quality of sleep, which is more important than how long you’re asleep for in some cases, would suffer due to not actually being physically tired. Your brain and body really does thrive on a good nights sleep and that’s another way structure can help!
Hopefully my story hasn’t bored you too much and might help you! If it has, I’d love to hear from you. I’m still learning myself and things in my life are changing all the time, so my advice is don’t be afraid to test your theories and ideas. Some things are impossible to believe until you know they’re true.
Where to find Andy