A 'teen prodigy' turned venture fund founder shares how to prioritize tasks when everything feels important
Running a business can be pretty intense.
In many cases, the work that goes into early stage venture eclipses sleep, exercise, and proper eating habits.
Thiago Olson, managing director of Engage Ventures, says he's learned firsthand that it's hard for entrepreneurs to achieve an effective work-life balance. You need a method for prioritizing important tasks over those that can wait.
"It's so easy to get pulled into the burning fires," he told Business Insider. "You just have to remind yourself it's a marathon. You have to step back and invest in your health."
At the age of 17, the 'teen prodigy' built a homemade nuclear fusion reactor. Before moving to the venture fund space, he worked for the US Department of Defense and then became the CEO of digital payment card company Stratos. Today, his venture fund is backed by Delta, UPS, Invesco, AT&T, Home Depot, and Intercontinental Exchange.
He said earlier in his career, he often focused more on his work than his own well-being. Now, he makes sure to get in 30 minutes of exercise every morning.
"Mentally, it's hard, because you go, 'I just need to get to work. I'm so busy,'" he said. "But you end up being so much more productive, if I just did even 30 minutes of that exercise."
Olson said there are some situations and crises that you will need to jump on immediately in an early stage business, even if that means you skip dinner or miss a workout.
But in order to achieve some balance, you've got to find a way to determine what requires immediate action and what can wait until after you hit the gym.
Olson said he has a method of prioritizing tasks and setting boundaries:
"Fast forward 10 years into the future, 15 years into the future," he said. "The thing that was on fire - you have a much different perspective looking back at it. That's the way I'd look at things."
If you treat every small, forgettable task like it's high-priority, you're setting yourself up for burnout.
"It's always good to take a step back and think, am I running in the right direction?" he said. "Take a strategic look at what you're doing and whether it's big picture."
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