By Kate Dwyer

Nowadays, self-care is more than healing crystals and beauty balm — it’s the everyday rituals that keep you focused and help you power through the day. “Balance is always elusive, but at minimum, make sure you’re getting at least an hour of intentional downtime per day — not time on Twitter, not consuming news and not answering email,” says Naomi Hirabayashi, co-CEO and co-founder of Shine Text. “The more self-care you can build in, the more time your brain has to subconsciously work out the kinks in your next big idea.” In other words, it’s non-negotiable. But when you’re running a company, traveling part of the month, and balancing work with a personal life, how do you make time for self-care? Our founders shared some of their favorite hacks:

Find a self-care ritual you like

During me-time, the founders of our portfolio companies take boutique fitness classes like Barry’s Bootcamp and SoulCycle, read long-form essays, or indulge in a good face mask (like WayUp founder Liz Wessel, who discovered K-beauty while on a trip to South Korea). The key is finding something you actually enjoy, so you want to make it a priority. “I try to do at least one yoga class a week, and if I can’t get to the studio, I’ll use an app like Gixo to take a class at home,” says F3 partner Sutian Dong.

Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, combines fitness and mindfulness when she’s looking to de-stress. “My ideal is 20 minutes of meditation followed by 30 minutes on my stationary bike, and then, if there’s time, some yoga,” she says.

Develop a nightly routine

F3 founding partner Anu Duggal says taking an epsom salt bath is her favorite way to relax and get a good night’s sleep (she adds lavender essential oil, too). It’s only 20 minutes, but makes a huge difference in clearing her headspace every night so she can start the next day feeling refreshed. One Japanese study found that participants who took baths developed improved “working memory processing,” less tension in their muscles, and less immediate stress.

“Before I go to bed, I have a hot shower, a peppermint tea and I apply essential oil to my pulse points,” Billie, Inc. co-founder Georgina Gooley explains. “It’s an unwinding routine that helps me avoid dreaming about work.” Journaling — Tala co-founder and CEO Shivani Siroya’s favorite nighttime routine — is also a game-changer. Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile told Forbes it’s one of the best tools for upping overall productivity.

Build fitness into the commute

“I have a bike share membership, so I’m take 15-minute bike rides everyday,” says Diane Loviglio, CEO of Boon + Gable. “I pedal really hard for 15 minutes, picking a different path each time to mix it up.” By biking to work, she doesn’t have to schedule an additional workout into her day.

“My walk to work takes an hour and it gives me time to think and clear my head,” Eloise Bune, founder and CEO of explains. She’s not the only one. “I like to get up early and walk for an hour along the West Side Highway 4–5 days every week, although it’s hard for the 3 months of real winter,” admits Lara Crystal, co-founder of MiniBar Delivery. “It gives me time to think and provides me with focus for the day.” While the power of a good walk might seem subjective, it’s actually backed up by research conducted at Stanford, which found a correlation between outdoor walking and increased creative production.


Listening to podcasts is a good way to decompress while learning something new. You can listen while you meal-prep, work out, or commute, so it’s a good way to transform a chore into a ritual. Some of our founders’ favorite podcasts include How I Built This, This American Life, Serial, and Recode Decode.

Loviglio says she doesn’t listen to podcasts on the reg. Instead, she enjoys audiobooks. “ I just finished Artemis by Andy Weir, the sequel to The Martian — it was amazing!”

When she’s in Los Angeles, Siroya gets her morning joe by walking her dog to her favorite coffee shop, ticking four boxes: caffeine, exercise, time outdoors, and time with her pup.

Make the most of lunchtime

“Don’t eat at your desk,” Bune says. “My entire team walks outside at 1 p.m. to grab lunch and then we all eat in conference room together. Not only does this lead to team bonding, but it ensures no one forgets to eat or burns out.”

At WayUp, Wessel multitasks by using her meals for meetings. “I love doing candidate interviews (as long as the candidate has already been screened) over a casual meal,” she says. “It saves me time, so I don’t need to grab lunch separately, and gives me the opportunity to get a sense for the candidate in a less formal and more real setting.”

Find a to-do list that works for you

Sawyer CEO Marissa Evans Alden uses the Notes section of her iPhone to keep track of fleeting inspiration. “Whenever I think of something I want to remember for later, I make sure I jot it down. Otherwise I’ll forget it,” she says. If you’re attached to your phone 24/7, this is an easy one. But Evans Alden says going wireless was her biggest game-changer. “I invested in Apple EarPods, and wireless calls have been an awesome hack because I’m not struggling with the wires (especially around my baby).”

Her co-founder and COO, Stephanie Choi, “lives by [her] Google Calendar.” She says she prefers to keep a to-do list “in a good old notebook,” because it keeps her more focused “than a thousand digital lists.”

Follow a game plan

Eloquii CEO Mariah Chase suggests writing the next day’s to-do list the night before, which she’s done since high school. She also schedules her meetings strategically. “I stack my most intense meetings early on in the day. Between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. are my most productive meeting hours, so I try to reserve afternoons for solo work if possible.” Over at Maven, CEO Katherine Ryder limits all meetings to 30 minutes “unless a good agenda is in place to structure a longer meeting,” That way, there’s enough urgency to keep the team on-task throughout the entire meeting, every meeting. Michelle Kennedy at Peanut starts blocks out 30 minutes of administrative work every morning so she can prep for a productive day.

“An advisor once suggested to wake up and write down the three, and only three, things that are highest priority in my day,” explains Cindy Lincks, CEO of Reachify. Everything else, she says, gets delegated to her team, which itself is a skill that builds trust. “I find that to be an easy way to navigate a long to-do list. It’s also a great way to say no to things. I find when I deviate from this ‘top three’ rule, I get stressed or overwhelmed with things that won’t make a difference in the long run.”

Originally published at