Entrepreneur Productivity Hacks - How to Prime Your Day for Success
Most people decide to leave their 9 to 5 and be entrepreneurs because they want freedom and flexibility. However, very often entrepreneurs end up working MORE than 8 hours a day.
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, but also want more free-time, it means making your ‘work’ hours as productive as possible. Productivity and success has a lot to do with creating disciplined routines and daily habits to keep you on track and high-functioning every day. Here are my six best tips for how I increase my daily productivity and why each is important.
1. Get done up and dressed up in the morning - even if you work from home
“When you look good - you feel good - when you feel good - you do good.”
If you work from home, I know you’re thinking - “This is why I left my corporate job, so I didn’t have to put on real pants!” Hear me out. I spent almost a full year working in sweatshirts and yoga pants and that year was pretty miserable. When you schlep around in your comfy clothes all day, it’s really easy to stay ‘comfortable’ in other parts of your work-life too. If you have an awesome video idea for social media , then realize you didn’t do your makeup or hair today - you’re probably not going to post that video. What a shame!
Or another scenario - this has actually happened to me. I like to get out and work in cafes and coffee shops in the afternoons. One afternoon I was working in Panera at the mall. After working, I took a walk around the mall and popped into William Sonoma. I started chatting with a cashier there, asking about who does their chalkboard calligraphy. Next thing I know, the store manager came out of back room and tells me all about how he hired the previous artist through LinkedIn and that they are always looking for freelancers to help with little projects like that. I was trying to pitch my services for future projects, but I felt so insecure because I was fresh-faced with my hair in a pony, yoga pants and rain boots, looking like I’m 16 years old.
The point is - there are opportunities everywhere. If you can be presentable and confident to pitch your services on the fly, in casual conversation, you will have a better chance of landing those jobs. You never know when you’ll be in the right place at the right time talking to the right person. Always be ready for opportunities to come to you.
2. Feed your body something good in the morning - and keep it the same every day
Eating the same thing for breakfast every day? BORING! Let me explain.
The wonderful thing about having the same thing for breakfast every day is you don’t need to think anymore. Our days are FILLED with decisions and our brains can only handle so much of that before facing overwhelm. Having the same thing for breakfast every day becomes one less decision you have to make and then you can use that brain power for decisions that really matter.
Try out a couple of different breakfasts, find out which one gives you lasting energy throughout the morning and clear thinking patterns. Now I’m not a nutritionist - I can only tell you what has worked for me for the last five years. I have a muscular build so it’s important for me to consume protein in the morning and I would assume most people could use the same. My daily breakfast is two whole grain toasts with peanut butter and sliced banana. Water and coffee. Simple - easy - lots of protein.
I would say anything with an egg would be a great option too. Whatever you discover that works best for you - stick with it and then use that excess brain power for those BIG ideas.
3. Be conscious of the information you are consuming first thing in the morning
My habit used to be to come downstairs, make my breakfast and turn on the news while I ate it. After reading about Tim Ferris’s negative view of the news, I started to question this decision. The news is filled with messages of violence, hatred, and fear. Then I started to question - are feeling these feelings a good way to start my day? NO! So I made a new choice.
I still wanted to watch something while I ate my breakfast, and we don’t have cable, so I chose to watch videos on Youtube. At first, it was random videos like tiny house tours or van-lifers, then pour painting videos. Eventually, Youtube got to know me and my viewing habits and started suggesting self-help gurus like Tony Robbins, then entrepreneurs like Tim Ferris, Seth Godin, and Marie Forleo. After a couple of weeks, it started suggesting videos by The Futur - an educational design channel. (FYI - This channel and its content is what eventually led me to change career paths)
Now, I start my mornings with positivity, inspiration, and motivation from other creatives and entrepreneurs that are killing it! Now that’s a much better way to start my day. I often get so excited and bubbling with ideas I can’t help but jump on my computer and get to work!
4. Do at least five minutes of stretch and/or meditation in the morning
I sleep on my arm so I usually wake up with tight neck/shoulders/upper back. It is so important for me to do at least a few stretches before I hunker down at my computer for the next 3-4 hours.
Meditation can be super powerful as well. Not sure about you, but my brain often feels like it’s in fast forward. If I’m not careful, I can rush through life, rush through my day, stuck in my head, not seeing the things or people around me. For me, just taking five minutes to sit in silence, helps cut through that brain buzz. I don’t complete tasks slower after meditating, but my mind is calmer and more clear. I have an easier time recognizing my bad habits and saying ‘no’. At the end of my meditation, I like to think about or write down three things I’m grateful for. (These are borrowed from Tony Robbins and Tim Ferris).
Something (anything) you’re grateful for
Someone in your past that helped you
Something very small that you’re grateful for (the sun is out, the birds chirping)
5. Have your calendar or to-do list ready to go for you in the morning
This is something I’m still working on but I definitely know the importance of it. When you can sit down and see exactly what needs to be accomplished, you don’t spend precious time in decision mode trying to determine what is worth spending your time on right now.
The less time you can spend in decision mode, and the more time in action mode, the more productive you will be.
This could be as simple as a piece of paper with ‘priorities’ written in one column and ‘secondary’ written in another. I like to accomplish the priorities in the morning so they are off my plate. I find that when I feel satisfied with what I’ve finished or created in the morning, I’m that much more motivated to keep that train rolling into the afternoon.
6. Get in tune with your biological clock - test, refine and repeat
“If you can work WITH your body’s strengths and weaknesses, you won’t be fighting yourself all the time and your body will thank you for it.”
How much sleep do you need? In order to get that much sleep - what time do you need to go to bed?
What time do you naturally wake up? Do you like to wake up with the sun? Or are you a night owl?
What time of day do you do your best creative thinking?
Do you feel energized after working out in the morning? Or is an afternoon or evening workout better for you?
Here’s my routine and how I work with my body’s preferences.
I need A LOT of sleep. I typically get 9 hours of sleep every night. My husband has an early work schedule so we both are early to bed - every night around 9/9:30. I don’t set an alarm and I wake up at roughly the same time every morning - between 6 and 7 AM depending on how much sleep my body needs. I know that I do my best creative thinking in the morning, so I like to start with those tasks followed by 1-2 ‘high priority’ items. I know that when the afternoon rolls around I’m craving movement and human interaction. I like to go for a walk after lunch (usually to a coffee shop). It gives my body and brain a much-needed refresh and this usually helps me sort through any places I’m feeling ‘stuck’. I schedule my meetings for the afternoons so I can re-energize from the interaction. If I don’t have any meetings, I’ll work in coffee shops in the afternoon and I get energy from the buzz around me.
On the days I workout, I do best around 4:30/5 PM which, for me, makes for a great end-cap to the day. Then dinner, relaxing, and bed.
I would love to hear if any of you have had success with these productivity tactics! Comment below what recipe for success leads you to do your best work.
Hey, I’m Shelby!
I am passionate about helping businesses build their legacy through beautiful, impactful branding.
I work with businesses big and small on projects from digital to print. I specialize in logo design, branding, and hand lettered identity marks. My services also include print and web design services.
When I’m not designing, you can find this former dancer in down-ward dog, or sipping a chai latte at the local coffee shop (probably not at the same time). My weekends are spent doing home-improvement projects with my handy husband, Zak, or road tripping in our self-converted Sprinter van.
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