This post is also available on austinstartups.com, and is based on a podcast interview I did with the Mayor on The Fire Show. \

Entrepreneurs have a lot to do.

Now that we started with a gross oversimplification, let’s jump to a relevant problem I am trying to solve in my own life, and seen many in the startup community find their own ways to solve…. or perpetually struggle with.

How do we create space in our lives to make better decisions in a way that others around us buy into them?

To get some answers — queue VICE documentary montage — I turned to one of the busiest people in our city, Austin Mayor Steve Adler.

So, what can we do?

1. CREATE space and time to process information in our mornings

We’ve heard about morning routines.

A lot.

If one of your interests listed on Facebook is entrepreneurship, chances are you’ve been targeted by an ad from Tim Ferris about his “morning routine to win the day”. We get it, Tim. You meditate.

All disparaging-the-self-promotion-of-a-very-successful-dude-I-actually-like aside, there is actually value in taking time to ease into the day and allow our minds to process information in the morning.

Here’s the Mayor’s routine:

“Well, most of my mornings during the week probably start about 5:15.

I usually spend the first 15 minutes in a quiet dark place, and kind of think through… those thoughts that you get early in the morning. I like to actually be in a place where I can get them and process them and think about them.

Then I read the newspaper, I read some blogs as the day is getting started. And then at 6:00 I’m working out most mornings for an hour”

— Steve Adler

Instead of jumping the gun — and checking our email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Slack, Whatsapp, and whatever else communication channel that blows up our devices and minds with information — in the morning, we can take 10–15 minutes (~2% of a 12-hour day) to stay off in the morning.

You’re on austinstartups.com right now. You’re probably an entrepreneur of some sort, and chances are — you enjoy the onslaught of to-dos, the process of wading through ambiguity to get to a strategy you can execute on, and the adrenaline of getting shit done that matters to you.

I get it.

But, time off for the sake of optimizing mental capability, and clearing mind space to make better decisions throughout the day, is worth it

After talking to the Mayor and learning more about his habits and routines in order to make better decisions, here’s a morning routine I’ve created for myself:

  • Wake up and make coffee
  • Stay away from my phone
  • Put on a custom playlist called Calm the f*ck down and put my butt on my sofa
  • Think through what comes to me about this upcoming day
  • Grab a piece of paper (no phone at this moment) and jot down down the 1–3 proactive actions I need to take today

That takes 10 minutes at most, and I take the calm into the next few hours. But enough about me. Here’s some more things you can do that I don’t:

Make your bed. Meditate. Journal. Listen to an audiobook or lecture. Exercise. Work on a creative project. 10 min/day, 5 times/week = 43 hours over a year.

Of course, you can change this up entirely to create even more mind space and time to work on what really matters in the morning:

melanie weinberger, CEO of WellShift, medidates, works out, and takes her dog out in the morning, choosing to start her work day later in the day.

Hugh Forrest, SX Director, wakes up before 5AM to write — “at least 4 paragraphs a day” — and work through incoming emails, requests, and decisions associated with SX. You can check out his writing here.


2. Allow yourself to be more proactive by decreasing information and stimuli pummeling our brains throughout the day day

What you want is to be able to do proactive things — such as working on affordability in the city and preserving communities or to help with mobility around the city.

You want to be proactive on those things.

And this job is a constant battle over dealing with all of the forces that want to make you reactive and trying to build the opportunity and space to be proactive.

— Steve Adler

The stimuli, decisions, and information that comes to us may not impact a million people, but they impact us, and drain our limited daily mental energy to focus on what matter.

As the Mayor said, you want to be proactive on those things.

One of the most valuable ways (80/20 rule) to do so is cut down the unnecessary information we get from our phones.

Make your screens black and white

Biggest variable in helping me taper my phone addiction. Not end it, completely. Come on, I’m not a savage (read: have the mental strength to break that addiction)

Turn off notifications that truly do not matter, such as:

  1. Facebook: Do we really need to know and Sally and 3 other friends are going to events near us today?
  2. Twitter: A retweet is just a dosage of domaine that feels good.
  3. Instagram: 1 person liked your photo. Another person liked your photo. Another person like your photo. Oh wow, one person commented. Another liked you- What’s the use?
  4. LinkedIn: Great, someone we met 4 days ago wants to connect, and 3 people viewed our profile. So what?

Hide your FB Newsfeed on desktop.

Use this chrome plug-in. The newsfeed is a demon.

Log out of the Facebook app 9–5

or whenever you know you don’t need to be scrolling though endless posts from people you either want to see in perosn or never want to see again.

That’s all my friends. If you liked the post, leave a review on iTu- wait, no.

check out the links below to listen to the full episode with the Mayor, and more cool folks answering my stupid questions.