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The Art of Switching Off: How to Do More By Doing Less

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Andrew Gazdecki


You are not a machine, yet I bet you spend over seven hours in front of a screen pretending to be one. Yes, I understand you have a lot of work to do, and it’s a sign of the times that most of it occurs digitally. Unlike your devices, however, you need more than a power source. You’re a complex organic organism that needs intervals of rest and stimulation to operate at your best. You work in one of the most industrious nations in the world. The US sets no limits on the working week and works more hours than nearly all countries in the OECD. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. The US loses $500 billion every year due to work-related stress, and burnout can affect everyone from the solopreneur to the Fortune 500 CEO. 

You’ve felt the effects of burnout, the tiredness, the brain drain. Burnout is so common nowadays that the WHO recently recognized it as an “occupational phenomenon,” and is investigating how companies might better manage it. Problems you might once have easily solved can seem like a Gordion knot when you’re not thinking or seeing clearly. 

Behave like a machine, and you’ll eventually become physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and intellectually blunt. Instead, learn how to switch off and watch your productivity and the quality of your work soar. You might even unlock new thinking that helps bring you closer to what you want from life and help you reestablish or deepen connections with loved ones. 

But how can you switch off when you have so many responsibilities? You might run a business, manage one, or work in a small team where your absence would encumber those you leave behind. Plus, you need to put food on the table. Well, no need to pack up and move to the mountains just yet. Here are some practical tips to help you switch off wherever you are. 

Automate Admin to Free Your Time

Think of all the little repetitive tasks you do each day: Checking and responding to emails, scheduling meetings, paying bills, paying salaries, helping customers, and so on. Rather than handle these tasks manually, automate them with software. Work smarter, not harder, and employ technology for one of its biggest selling points: freeing up time to do other things. 

Consider creating email templates and canned responses to common inquiries. Synchronize your calendars with your teams. Use software like Calendly for booking meetings with people outside your organization. Ditch spreadsheets and write scripts (or buy them) that help you populate databases automatically. You might also install a chatbot to handle simpler inquiries. 

You’ll find countless workflow automation software online to automate everything from payroll to task management to sales commissions. Google Workspace also has automation tools built-in, from smart labels in Google Mail to team calendars, that make it easier to organize your schedule and workload efficiently, lifting the burden from your mind (and your calendar).   

Take Regular Device Breaks to Avoid Burnout

Over 80 percent of the global population owns a smartphone. Combined with your laptop, monitor, and TV, you probably spend more time in front of an electronic screen than sleeping. That’s not hyperbole: Work it out. Ironically, iOS does it for you (at least for your Apple devices). Compare those hours to time spent sleeping and I think you’ll be shocked. 

“What’s the problem?” you might wonder. Aside from poorer eyesight, headaches, and insomnia, technology addiction is also associated with anxiety and depression. You might think your always-on connectedness helps your customers or employees, but you’re setting yourself up for failure and worse. Logging extra screentime isn’t a badge of honor: it’s a health risk. 

Schedule regular breaks away from devices. Most doctors suggest a five-to-ten minute break every hour, but go further and take an entire day (or more) now and again. Switching off will be hard at first – you might even feel irritable – but in the long run, freeing your mind from the clutches of your devices will help sharpen your thoughts and bolster your mental health. 

Go for a Walk to Stimulate Creativity

Today, Americans spend more time sitting than at any time in history. You probably sit for around 15 hours a day. A sedentary lifestyle shortens your lifespan, adds pounds, and might increase your susceptibility to disease. Take regular walks and not only will you protect your physical health, but this much-needed escape from the office will also help your mental wellbeing.

One study suggests that walking improves creativity by 60% (compared to sitting). When you’re inside, at your desk, ostensibly working on a problem, you might find a stroll in a local park offers you better progress. Just being around nature (grass, trees, sea, wildlife) reduces stress, slows your heart rate, and eases muscular tension – the conditions where great ideas thrive.

Whether you work in an office or the spare room, go outside once a day – perhaps at lunchtime. Leave the devices behind and let your mind wander. Take a notepad and pen to jot down ideas. Observe the world around you. The gentle exercise of walking combined with being in nature can do wonders for your concentration, mood, and cognitive function

Practice Mindfulness to Open Your Mind 

Do you remember the last time you did nothing? You probably occupy your mind from the moment you’re awake (and reaching for your smartphone) to the moment you sleep (when you put it on charge). Whether you’re checking emails, handling customer support issues, or just brushing up on the latest trends in entrepreneurship, you afford little time to the present. 

Like a mechanical clock, too much activity and environmental stress cause wear and tear on the mind. Sleep recharges you, but occasionally you need to reset, attune yourself to the world, and synchronize your mind to your body. Practicing mindfulness helps to silence distractions, reduce rumination (the washing machine thoughts) and improve cognition, clarity, and focus

But what is mindfulness? According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness is “a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment.” Yoga and meditation are two common examples of mindfulness activities, but even spending fifteen minutes focusing on your breathing can help still an overactive mind and reduce anxiety. 

If you run or manage a business or are responsible for something you perceive as important, you’ll feel pressure to be successful. You’ll ruminate, judge your actions harshly, and feel stressed when things don’t go your way. You might lose objectivity and criticize yourself, reinforcing negative thought patterns. This is a fast track to hurting your business and you’ll burnout in a vicious cycle to do more.  Practice mindfulness to refocus on what matters. 

Socialize With Loved Ones to Remember What’s Important

We’re all on a deadline to break the mold before we die. How this manifests in your life depends on your goals. You might want to build a billion-dollar business. Maybe you want to land a rocket on Mars. It doesn’t matter. Just remember that true, lasting happiness doesn’t come from fame, money, or achievement but from the close relationships you build. 

Of course, your professional goals are important. But will you be on your deathbed annoyed that you missed a deadline or revenue target? Unlikely. You’ll probably have other regrets, such as not spending more time with friends and family, or wishing you’d been kinder to them. We often recognize what matters too late to change things: We worked too much and loved too little

Remember how it felt the last time you surprised a loved one? Fostering close relationships with others makes you happier. And when you’re happier, you’re also stronger, more confident, and more resilient to life’s challenges. Being generous with your time could make you more successful. Better yet, positivity is infectious, and your acts of kindness might inspire others. 

You might sell your company or take a sabbatical, for example. While pausing momentum might seem counterintuitive, the extra time and space could afford some much-needed perspective. And when you’re ready to resume your career or start a new venture, you might go farther than you ever thought possible having given yourself the time to reflect.   

Everyone is trying to make sense of their lives, to create the conditions for happiness. The world is chaotic, and societal systems give a semblance of order, but truthfully, no one knows (nor agrees upon) the right path. We simply do what we think is best for us at the time. No one is perfect. We’re all human. We’re all fallible. And we’re in it together. 

Emulating the cold efficiency of a machine is a zero-sum game. We admire productivity because we link it to achievement and reward. But if our accomplishments come at the cost to our health, happiness, and relationships with others, who really wins? Not you, not your business, and not society. So switching off once in a while will help to stave off burnouts. You deserve it.

Image Credit: Mikael Blomkvist; Pexels; Thank you!

Andrew Gazdecki

Founder and CEO of MicroAcquire

Andrew Gazdecki is a 4x founder with 3x exits, former CRO, and founder of MicroAcquire. Gazdecki has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine, as well as prominent industry blogs such as Axios, TechCrunch and VentureBeat.

Politics

Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending

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Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play


London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Politics

Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs

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Deanna Ritchie


As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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Politics

UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations

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Deanna Ritchie


As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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