Ready, Set, PauseAs a young Founder and CEO, I often get asked about time management, stress, and how I manage to take care of myself in addition to taking care of my business.  After years of burning the midnight oil and averaging 4-ish hours of sleep a night max, I nearly burned myself out. In one short year, I took over 210 flights, worked with amazing clients all over the globe, and was able to grow my business extremely quickly.

From the outside looking in, I had it all put together.

But actually, I was exhausted and stressed out nearly all the time. That’s when I realized you have to slow down to speed up.

One fateful day about a year ago in New York City, I was drowning in meetings. I had 15 of them back-to-back. Just as I was about to hit my point of ‘over capacity’, yet another meeting popped up. It was an 8-minute meeting put on my calendar by my friend and colleague entitled, “Ready, Set, Pause”. My friend and colleague at Digital Royalty, Alana, knew about my hectic day. After seeing a little window in my schedule, she encouraged me to put on my headphones and use those 8 minutes to listen to a couple of songs from a Spotify playlist we had created. It’s amazing how little things can make big changes. I took her advice and relaxed as I listened to the music. To my surprise, after the two songs were over I felt calm, energized, and ready to tackle the rest of my day. That quick pause allowed me to release the gradual tension that had been building with each meeting and to take a hiatus from my stress and anxiety.

From that day on, an 8-minute ‘Ready, Set, Pause’ has held a permanent spot in my daily agenda.

This little trick fascinated me so much that my team and I wanted to learn more. We took the concept to Dr. Mark Guadagnoli, who holds a dual PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Human Performance. He has taught at Harvard University, Arizona State, UCLA, USC, and UNLV. Since introducing this Ready, Set, Pause concept to Dr. Guadagnoli, my team and I have been working with all types of individuals, of all ages, to study the effects of Ready, Set, Pause.

In one setting, Dr. Guadagnoli gave a group of college students little instruction, other than to make sure to take a dedicated pause every day. The results were incredible. Using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a metric, the students gave the Ready, Set, Pause concept an over 90% approval score (of out 100). The NPS is a metric commonly used by companies to gauge the strength of a company’s customer relationships. The higher the number, the more likely they are to share their opinion with family and friends. This number is powerful—people don’t typically recommend unsatisfying experiences to their loved ones. These results inspired my team and I to include the Ready, Set, Pause concept into our Digital Royalty University classes. We’ve found people retain new things better if they take a few moments to digest what they’ve learned and aren’t overwhelmed by information overload.

My daily Ready, Set, Pause routine, coupled with my commitment to sleep my way to the top has made a huge impact on my stress level, how I communicate, and the way I make important decisions. Taking the time to take care of yourself is the one of the most important things you can do for your business. Sometimes, the best way to speed up is to slow down.

Amy Jo Martin, founder and CEO of Digital Royalty and Digital Royalty University, teaches brands, corporations, and individuals how to measure and monetize their digital universe. She is the author of the New York Times best-seller, Renegades Write the Rules. Follow her at @AmyJoMartin.

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