It doesn’t matter if you are a business veteran with years of experience, or a startup founder that is getting his or her feet wet for the first time. Running a successful business requires that you maximize your time fully in order to accomplish the most every day.
After all, every single person has the same amount of time in a day, yet some are able to get a tremendous amount of work accomplished because they are more productive and they know how to properly allocate their time. The morning is what sets the pace for the entire day, so here are ten tips that business owners have personally used to start the day off right. Use them to help mold a morning routine that will work for you.
Many experts suggest that you end your day creating a to-do list for the next day, and it’s a great suggestion. “The trick is to attack your list as early as possible each morning. I like to start my days very early, as it allows me to get a good portion of my list completed before the day officially starts,” says John Stacy, VP of Sales and Marketing at “I’m able to knock most of it out before the rest of the staff comes in, allowing me to focus 100 percent of my attention on the list while the office is empty.”
“When I make a to-do list I always place the most difficult tasks on top, with the easiest tasks at the end,” suggests Kate Moore of . “I find that I have the most energy and I’m more focused first thing, so it helps getting the difficult tasks completed faster than if I wait until later on in the day.”
Prioritization is key. Once you learn how to quickly assess your tasks based on level of difficulty and how long they will take you to complete, the more efficient your to-do lists will become. Don’t get frustrated, as it takes time and a lot of trial and error to get this dialed in.
I’m a big fan of using whiteboards to write down goals, both long-term and smaller daily goals. “Being able to visualize your goals constantly helps, so every morning I write my top three goals of the day on my whiteboard,” says Raz Klinghoffer of . “These are different from the items on your to-do list and can even be mindsets or thoughts.”
One of your top goals might be to remain positive in the event you are dealing with some difficult times. Simply writing “Stay positive all day” on your board the first thing in the morning will get that thought in your mind and you will be forced to look at it all day, helping to further enforce that thought.
A lot of business owners are under the assumption that they have to be up at 4am in order to be successful, but that is not the case. “Someone that sleeps in until 8am and gets a full rest is going to be far more productive than someone waking up at 5am tired and exhausted,” suggests David Sessford, Managing Director of . “Wake up when you are fully recharged and ready to give 100 percent all day.”
You have to find out what you personally require. Some people are perfectly fine after just 5 hours of sleep, while others need a full 8 hours to be at optimal performance. Adjust to fit in your optimal rest, as it will make a huge difference.
Don’t fall into the email trap of constantly refreshing your inbox and replying to messages as they come in. “If you don’t have dedicated email time you will lose so much of your day to wasting time trying to manage your inbox,” says Christopher Kerr, VP of Marketing at . “I like to clear my inbox before I even start my day, which allows me to then check it once mid-day and then again at the end of the day. This definitely contributes to better production throughout the day.”
Again, you need to set times throughout the day that work for you, specifically. But, tackling your inbox right away before you dive into your to-do list will help prevent a backlog of messages.
“When you have a team that is depending on your leadership, you need to be sure to have their tasks ready for them before they arrive to start the day,” says Ricky So, founder of . “A communication tool like Slack is a great way to delegate all of your tasks each morning.”
When you master this, you are also able to hold everyone more accountable, as they all know what they have to accomplish for the day. If someone is slacking or falling behind you can quickly address it before it causes you to fall too far behind.
You need to think of your body as a high performance machine. “If you don’t put the right fuel in the engine the overall performance will be low,” advises Chris Moberg, President of . “Stay away from the donuts and the junk food. Instead, go for egg whites or another choice with high protein. This is what will fuel you in the early part of your day.”
A lot of people are reaching for protein bars these days, but make sure you read the nutritional labels, as many of them are packed with sugar and fat, making them no better than a candy bar. Prioritize nutritional value over flavor when selecting a bar.
If your mind is all over the place and bouncing from idea to idea you will chip away at many things but your results overall will be slow. “This is why I love to-do lists, as having a list written down allows me to focus on each task line by line, and then cross them off as I finish them,” says the owner of . “Physically seeing them being crossed off also gives me a sense of accomplishment, which further motivates me.”
In the beginning you might feel overwhelmed and try to multi-task, but over time you will see that you actually get more done when you put 100 percent of your effort into one thing at a time.
“You are never going to get everything done in the day, and the sooner you realize this, the sooner you will create a healthier work-life balance,” says Jonathan Rolande, Director of . “You have to make sure you make time for your family, and something as simple as a family breakfast or 15 minutes together in the morning before work is great for you.”
The same can be said for the evenings. Working late into the night will just burn you out. You have to learn to disconnect and go home and spend time with family as well. You will see that it becomes almost therapeutic and helps keep your mind fresh and the stress low.
Trying to get everyone on the same page mid-day is a nightmare. “We have all meetings, whether via phone or video conferencing, first thing in the morning,” says the owner of Lawsuit Legal, an . “The staff knows all calls are first thing, which gives us 100 percent attendance every time.”
When you develop routines like this is gets the entire team on the same page and creates a much more streamlined workflow. You can also end each call with words of encouragement or share some positive company news. Often times this will cause everyone to start the day with a motivational fire lit under them.