Some rise for the day at 3 am. Others finally turn off their minds for some shut eye by 3 am. Whether you fit in one of these categories or somewhere in between, these 21 creative entrepreneurs have advice on how they structure their days for the most impact. Are you a list-maker? An aspiring white-board enthusiast? Read on for inspiring advice for new ways to structure your day.
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On prioritizing priorities:
Oli Russell Cowan, Founder & CEO of Rad Season: “I start my morning by organizing my day into time blocks. By allocating designated time slots for each project and task on my ‘to-do’ list allows me to break away from the stress of upcoming or uncompleted tasks.”
Travis Parker, CEO of Ira Bitcoin LLC: “Every day any idea pops into my head, between when I wake up and leave for the office, I write it down; then the first thing I do when I arrive at the office I take 10 minutes and make a list of everything I’d like to accomplish for the day.”
Robert Tallack, CEO of ConversionPoint Technologies: “I try and organize my days into clusters. In the morning I’ll dedicate a couple of hours to emails and phone calls. In the late morning I’ll start meetings. I really make an effort to be efficient with my time because with three operating entities we have a lot to cover most days.”
Leif Elgethun, CEO of Retrolux: “I put tasks into three buckets: Have to get done, need to get done, and everything else. I work on the have to get done first, then need to get done, and sometimes will get to the rest.”
Bertrand Patriarca, Co-Founder and CEO of Washos: “I spend 5 minutes with each manager and member of my executive team to set the pace of the day. After I’ve defined my objectives for the day, I read my emails and organize them by priority.”
Ryan Andreas, Managing Partner of Quantified Media: I look for the latest developments within the industry. Based on the discovery I make, I might use the information to tweak current strategies or develop new ones to assist current and future clients. To be productive on a daily basis, I carry out a lot of research. It is vital to keep up with changing times.
Chris Belli, Strategic Marketing at Studio Science: “We begin each day with a round table discussion among Studio Science’s individual practice areas, so that everyone is aligned specifically around client work and deliverables. I write down tasks that need to be completed by the end of the day (and don’t leave the office until they are done).”
Whether you need some extra #fitspiration before you start your day or ideas on how to make the most out of your morning, these entrepreneurs’ advice will keep you from hitting the snooze button.
On early-rising and exercising:
Chris Stakich, CEO of Rustic Pathways: “My days start at 4am. To make the most of every day, I stick very closely to a pre-planned schedule. My theory is “plan ahead and execute in the moment”. From 4am – 5:30am I typically meditate, read, and focus on personal development projects. From 5:30am – 7am I clear emails and wrap my head around the day’s activities.”
Rachel Traylor, Founder and Lead Researcher at The Math Citadel: “I swim on a masters team and remain competitive. Exercise helps me focus and ensures that at the end of the day, I always feel productive. I catch up on emails over breakfast at home, and give myself half an hour to complete some set of house chores so those duties don’t pile up at the end of the week. I then check my calendar and fill in scheduled blocks for the necessary tasks.”
Kevin Cao, Co-Founder of GIVE: “Every morning I make my bed and tell the first person I meet that today is going to a great day. I believe that attitude is everything; by telling people around you that today is going to be a great day, you are setting a positive tone not only for yourself, but also for those in your home or office.”
Michael Koch, CEO of HubKonnect: I drink 2 cups of coffee upon waking up at 4:59am. Why 4:59 am? I always want to beat my competition if they are getting up at 5 am. I reflect on the day ahead of me over those cups of coffee, and then I head to the gym for a workout.
Jason Kulpa, Founder of Underground Elephant: The day starts the night before when I prep from 8pm – 10pm…I review my calendar and start visualizing the next day. At 6am when I wake up, I make a cup of coffee and check my phone for emails. It’s important that I bring the same passion and enthusiasm home as I do to work each morning.
Work, meetings, commuting, exercise, personal time – it seems nearly impossible to get it all completed each day! Learn more about how these entrepreneurs find balance in their work day to maximize productivity.
On finding balance:
Erin Halper, Founder of The Upside: “I give myself a hard stop at 5 to set limits, maximize productivity and avoid burnout. I have literally ended work-related phone calls simply because it’s 5:00pm. This also is the time that my family knows that I can be 100% present with them with no interruptions or distractions. Balance is key to productivity and overall satisfaction when running a startup.”
Randall Jamail, CEO of Pavemint: “My day starts around 4:30am…I work until 7am on one specific thing. These two hours are the only hours of my day that are guaranteed to be uninterrupted, so I try and make the most of them. From 9am until noon I make myself available to senior staff. From noon until about 2pm, I have lunch and a nap, then spend the afternoon with senior staff discussing and debating marketing, strategic partnerships and/or development.”
Nicole Faith, Creator of 10 Carat Creations: “I wake up around 11 or 12 because I’m a sleeper. Working for yourself allows you the perk of sleeping when you want, and it’s something I never take for granted!…I like to execute my vision quickly and then give myself some time to tweak and improve. I’ll go out for dinner or an activity at night depending on where I am.”
Ross Landreth, Founder of Medical Valuations Inc: “As a business owner you get to choose where your time and energy go. I have chosen to take the stress-free route and allocate more time to my family than could have been possible working in the corporate world.”
Gita Omri, Founder of Omri Essentials Fashion: “Unless I have something specific scheduled I give myself until 10 a.m. to do housework. By 10 a.m. I start by reviewing my notebook, to do lists, meeting notes, fitting notes, and design ideas. At 6:45 p.m. my official workday is over and I go into ‘homework mode’. I take Friday mornings off to clean the house, and Sunday afternoons are family time.”
Shireen Yates, CEO of Nima: “I try to spend at least 30 minutes a day outside exercising and breathing fresh air. Whenever possible, I try to sneak in a nap when I’m tired instead of drinking a bunch of coffee. I also try to block off time on my calendar for creating space to reflect and think.”
Brad Stroh, Co-CEO of Freedom Financial Network: “The first thing I do each day when I sit down at my desk is to call everyone in our Company who has a birthday. I love it and it starts day off with a great amount of joy and also gratitude for who I get to work with. When things get going, I try to walk around at least once during the day and say hi to everyone I can grab a moment with.”
When the rest of the world is turning in for some shut-eye, some entrepreneurs are just hitting their groove. Check out how these night owls manage their workload.
On the night owl lifestyle:
Joe Graceffa, Co-Founder of Linfield Media: I know the right answer here is probably that I wake up at 4:30am, go for a cold swim, meditate for 30 minutes, then start making money but…I tend to stay up late and sleep in pretty late. My team and I get to the office around 10am and, fortunately, I get enough support that I don’t have to start my day by trying to sift through 1,000 emails.
Andrei Mincov, Founder of Trademark Factory: I make a conscious effort to be in bed by 3am, but it’s usually a huge challenge for me. When I wake up, around 9am, the very first thing I do—before I get out of bed—is I write down answers to 7 daily questions: Who’s got my money today (what my #1 revenue-producing activity)? What do I do today to grow Trademark Factory® (what is my #1 activity for long-term growth)? What makes me a better business owner today (what do I read, learn, or do today)? What makes me a better husband today? What makes me a better father today? What make me a better drummer today (I’m a diehard amateur drummer)? What do I do for fun today? I then structure my day around these priorities.
At least we can all agree on one thing: coffee is a must.
How do you structure your days in order to feel you’re most productive? Tell us about it @ideamensch.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.