The inner dialogue that tries to balance productivity and fun can be frustrating for every entrepreneur. When you spend lots of hours at the office and absorb constant stress, time for yourself isn't easy to come by.
It can feel like the only way to have more fun is by sacrificing work, and the only way to do better at work is to sacrifice fun. No matter how trapped you might feel, however, there are steps you can take to enjoy the best of both worlds. Here are 10 ways you can enjoy life -- and reduce stress -- without worrying about productivity sacrifices.
1. Practice heightened presence
Practicing presence is one of the essentials to a more enjoyable life. When you let yourself be completely immersed in a given situation, you'll be able to fully absorb the positives. If your mind is focused on work while you're out with friends, on the other hand, then even time that's supposed to be relaxing is not entirely enjoyable.
Presence is an extremely challenging skill, but being able to clear your mind is the key. Breathing exercises, meditation and conscious awareness of your thoughts will help you work toward greater levels of presence, and you'll improve over time with practice.
2. Look for opportunities to have shared experiences
There are many things we do each day that would enable us to include others. Often, though, we choose not to because extending an invitation sounds like effort or creates some other small inconvenience. Think of how often you go out to eat, exercise or watch sports by yourself.
It takes just a few seconds to send a quick text seeing if someone wants to join you in an activity. Sending that text can result in sharing that experience with someone, killing two birds with one stone: You get to see someone you enjoy while doing something you've been looking forward to, heightening the pleasure of both.
3. Be very thoughtful about your friends
Outside of work and your partner or family, friends are likely some of the only people you're able to make time for in between meetings, errands and sleep. That puts a big emphasis on picking high-quality friends.
You should enjoy spending time with the people you surround yourself with, meaning you should keep an eye out for shared values and interests. Your friends should also make you a better person, and the relationships should be two-way; you shouldn't be supporting your friend via one-sided daily phone calls, and your friend shouldn't be the only one issuing invitations to get together.
When you have these relationships in your life, you'll engage in more valuable and memorable interactions -- and doing thoughtful things for your friends will lift you up, too.
4. Find the recharging activities that work best for you
You will inevitably have times when you need to recharge. This could be after a long week of work or wrapping up a particularly challenging project.
It's worth the small investment to think about how you like to recover. Conscious thought about the recharging activities that work best for you will focus your time on doing what will yield the most energy in return. For some people, it's taking a long bubble bath; for others, it's running. The key is finding what works best for you.
5. Eat well, and drink water
Although it might not sound like it has anything to do with making time for fun, your physical health is critical. If you're dehydrated or eating unhealthy meals on a loop -- something many entrepreneurs are known to do -- your energy levels will decrease. Consequently, you'll be less present in each moment, making each task or effort less enjoyable.
You should, therefore, take the inconsequential bit of time to stay hydrated throughout the day and find food that will give you energy. When your body's feeling good, you'll be able to live each day much more fully.
6. Sleep well
In addition to eating well and drinking water, sleep is a huge piece of the physical health puzzle. When you've had enough sleep, you have the energy to tackle the day as your best self.
This doesn't just mean sleeping for the minimum number of hours to avoid drowsiness; it also means doing what improves the quality of your sleep. Winding down before bed, even for a few minutes, can greatly improve your sleep; reading is a great way to slow down without exposing your eyes and brain to bright lights. Keeping your room cool, using a sound machine and investing in good pillows can also make a world of difference.
7. Take activities outdoors
Being outside has positive health effects, and there are times when it's much easier to be outside than inside. For example, you could have walking meetings at work, go to the park for lunch rather than stay in the office or work at an outdoor coffee shop instead of your home office.
Making the choice to be in the great outdoors will make you happier: Exposure to nature relaxes us and improves our air flow, encouraging us to take deep breaths and draw in more oxygen.
8. Try new things
When we're busy, it's easy to get into routines and do the same things over and over. It could be the restaurants we frequent, the activities we choose or even the music we listen to.
Instead, push yourself to constantly change those choices so you don't feel trapped in a repetitive loop. You'll be going out to eat or listening to music, anyway -- why not try something new? It will expand your horizons; if nothing else, it will shake the cobwebs loose and allow new ideas to take root in your subconscious.
9. Find times to challenge yourself
In addition to trying new things, you should put yourself in challenging situations. Although this might sound draining, it will actually make you happier. In challenging situations, like competition, we're fully immersed in the task at hand. This full immersion -- and the experience of "flow" -- provides a vivid experience and pushes us to be better.
Challenges will place themselves along your life's path; you just have to be on the lookout for the ones worth embracing. If something interests you but scares you, that's a good sign it's worth taking a risk on.
10. Work on developing a positive mindset
Every moment can be enjoyable if your head's in the right place. As much as we can change our external circumstances, the most important thing to change is our internal perspective.
If you work on developing a positive mindset, it will be easier to spot opportunities in the weeds. When you gravitate toward the negative or feel sorry for yourself, you can fall into a victim mentality. But every successful entrepreneur I've met has taken ownership of his life, thinking of ways he can improve things rather than accept them.
Although it can take effort to work on balancing work and fun, doing so will yield large benefits, in terms of both enjoyment and energy. Thinking about how you can consciously get more out of life won't take a toll on your productivity; it will enhance it.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors