Briana Morgaine

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We all have our own idea of what makes a successful entrepreneur.

While this conception may vary person to person, certain aspects remain constant: high intelligence, the ability to persevere in the face of adversity, a passion for what they do, a sense of fearlessness, the ability to adapt quickly, and so on.

These are the types of traits that spring to mind first—the quintessential smart, strong-willed, unfailingly confident entrepreneur, blazing his own trail.

No doubt about it, these are important qualities to have. But realistically, while they matter, they might not be the end-all, be-all when it comes to successful entrepreneurship—and they may not be indicative of long-term success, either.

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Briana MorgaineBriana Morgaine

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This morning, I decided to walk to the coffee shop down the street. When I got there, I decided to have a cup of coffee and a bagel. Those decisions shaped my morning, as did all the other small decisions I’ve made up until this moment.

Our daily lives are the cumulative effect of hundreds of small decisions.

These decisions encompass everything from what you chose to wear today, to where you’re eating for lunch. Generally speaking, decisions like this come fairly easily, and we rarely agonize over the small choices we make throughout our daily lives.

However, some decisions carry enough weight that the prospect of simply making a choice can feel like a huge undertaking. The decision to quit your job and start your own business, choosing to hire additional team members, taking on a new, difficult project—the decisions entrepreneurs face are often very difficult to make, and involve careful consideration.

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Briana MorgaineBriana Morgaine

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Confession time:

I’ve never pulled a work-related all-nighter.

I went my entire academic career never cramming for a test, or staying up until 3 am to finish a paper. I don’t personally know the feeling of seeing the sun gently creep above the horizon as I work, frantically, to finish a project.

Now, part of that can be put down to the fact that (at the risk of sounding cocky) I have cultivated decent time management skills. It’s also based on the fact that I have a very clearly defined sense of when, where, and how I am most functional.

When it comes to working at night (and especially if it involves extensive research, writing, or critical thought—all things that both my work and my university experience demanded of me in spades) I am essentially useless. Once 7 pm hits, I am no longer capable of producing good quality work. Evenings, for me, are for socializing, errands, Netflix, a glass of wine—you get the idea.

Though I could choose to power through, I prefer to take a different approach. Instead of forcing myself to do work in a context in which I know my output will be inferior, I make an effort to work with what I know suits my work preferences. This brings us to the idea of the “user manual.”

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Creating your own “user manual”

The longer we spend working (whether that be at school, at our jobs, starting our businesses, or on pet projects), the more evident it becomes that we have certain times of day and environments that encourage us to do our best work.

You might have discovered that you prefer to do emails in the morning over coffee (or they just won’t get done), that the Pomodoro technique really helps you focus on projects, or that you do your best creative work while listening to a classical radio station with noise canceling headphones.

Rather than simply letting this information float around in your mind and disappear just as quickly, consider honing in on it.

Spend some time determining where you work best, what time of day you get the most done, and what atmosphere you require to be as productive, creative, and efficient as possible. What systems need to be put in place to help maximize your output? How can you optimize your environment, lifestyle, and surroundings to get the best possible out of yourself?

In essence, you’re creating what I’ll be referring to in this article as your own personal user manual.

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Briana MorgaineBriana Morgaine

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For introverts, the prospect of attending a networking event can feel like a trip to the dentist.

However, the reality is that if you’re an entrepreneur, networking is an essential.

The fear of networking is something I personally understand—I am a self-professed introvert and networking avoider. However, with the recent focus on introversion in the workplace, increased attention is being paid to optimizing introverts’ workplace success.

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the ways introversion impacts us while networking, and how to work around it. The reality is that networking doesn’t have to be painful; for us introverts, it’s just necessary to approach it differently.

What does introversion look like?

Introversion is characterized, not necessarily by a shy or receding personality, but rather by individuals who feel recharged by alone time, and drained by extensive, ongoing social interaction.

I myself first felt keenly aware of my introverted nature when I realized I needed time to recharge not only after exhausting or stressful social situations, but even after ones I enjoyed. This means that I can spend the whole day with people whose company I genuinely love, but by the end of the day, I still feel a little burnt out.

Have you ever experienced that feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day that comes from continued meetings, social engagements, and small talk—even if you’ve been spending time with people you enjoy being around?

Congratulations—you might be an introvert. We are many.

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Briana MorgaineBriana Morgaine

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Every conversation goes something like this:

“Wow, you work from home? That’s so awesome, I’m so jealous. I wish I worked from home!

I bet you can just work in your pajamas all day if you want, huh?”

I’ll smile, and launch into a mildly self-deprecating discussion of how, while it is awesome in so many ways, working from home also means that I have to go through some pretty intense self-motivation in order to avoid feeling like the ultimate sloth.

For the better part of the past three years, I’ve been remotely employed. I’m very lucky; I can work where I want, I don’t have a commute, and yes, I could (in theory) work in my pajamas if I really wanted to. However, I’m also intimately familiar with the pitfalls of working from home.

Working from home is awesome—except when it really, really isn’t.

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Briana MorgaineBriana Morgaine