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Over the last few years I have immersed myself in the Entrepreneurial culture. I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts, read millions of words in eBooks and scoured the internet for every course, resource and scrap of information I can get my hands on and devoured it all.
After a while I started to notice some trends, it seemed there were certain things successful entrepreneurs do every day. Sure, some swear by the 4am starts (uh… no thanks) and others credit meditation to helping their success (actually, a lot of them talk about meditation) but there were certain common occurrences that made me take note.
These weren’t groundbreaking ‘ah ha’ moments, there were no light bulbs going off but rather a more steady realisation that if the successful people I was studying had these things in common, then surely taking these strategies and applying them to my life would at least put a foot in the right direction. Right?
Now I can’t say I do all of these perfectly, and some days I seem to have my ducks in a row while other days I can’t even find my ducks. But that’s okay. I have these habits and strategies I’m working towards and in sharing them with you hopefully you can start adding them to your day too.
1 – Plan Their Day (Sometimes The Night Before)
This funny thing happens when we leave our day jobs and start to work for ourselves… all of a sudden we have this time we never had before and all too easily we start filling that time with Netflix and coffee dates when really we should be spending it growing our business.
This is one of the strategies I have always used myself but have started to plan out the night before – successful entrepreneurs plan their day. They don’t just wake up and see where the day takes them, they know what tasks they need to get done, what time they have scheduled in for themselves and they make the most of the time they have.
There’s a theory that as the day progresses we suffer from what is called ‘decision fatigue’. The short version is that each decision we make takes up mental power, therefore if we start making decisions of a morning (think plans for the day, what you’re going to wear, what to have for breakfast, what cafe you’re going to grab a coffee from) you’ve already started to expend amounts of mental energy that could be used the night before and have these plans and decisions already in place. Interesting theory.
2 – Time Chunk
Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
Time chunking has been known to increase productivity for some time now, and for a while I wasn’t convinced. After all I felt like when I was in the ‘zone’ then I should just be left there to get as much work done as I could. But there was a major flaw with my approach, I rarely spent any time in the ‘zone’ and spent a whole lot of time procrastinating, checking Facebook (darn you Facebook) and doing meaningless tasks that weren’t growing my business.
Insert Time Chunking.
Because I’m a little bit of a nerd who is also competitive, I found using the Pomodoro Technique to be most effective for me when time chunking. I would set a timer on my phone (usually for 25 or 30 minutes) and set myself a task to complete in that time. The key element here is that I had to complete the task, not just work on it. So if I was writing a blog post, rather than trying to write a whole post in 25 minutes, I would set myself a goal of writing 600 words in 25 minutes.
After my timer went off, I’d get up, walk around, maybe make myself a coffee and come back and start the process again with another task.
Giving myself just 25 minutes to complete a task meant that I would only take 25 minutes to do it. However, if I had given myself one hour to write 600 words I can guarantee it would have taken me that whole hour. Why? Because of Parkinson’s Law – the idea that a task takes as long as we have allotted to complete it. You know it’s true.
Time chunking, and particularly the Pomodoro technique, is something that so many successful entrepreneurs attribute to their ability to get a large number of tasks done with focus and without procrastination.
Read More: The Secret To Blogging Faster (Not Harder)
3 – Take Time Out For Themselves
It doesn’t matter what personality type you are, how many hours you sleep or what kind of schedule you run on, we all need to take time out for ourselves at some point. The most successful entrepreneurs know this but the one thing they do differently to others is they actually schedule it in. Just as you would a meeting with a client or a webinar to watch and learn, successful entrepreneurs schedule in time out.
It’s also important to know what ‘time out’ looks like for you. Perhaps you need to be able to have quiet time to yourself each day to meditate or simply sit and drink your coffee while it’s still hot. Or maybe you need to physically get away once a month and sit by the beach or change your scenery. Find out what works for you and leverage it.
4 – Eat Well
This is one of the easiest areas to let slip when you’re an entrepreneur. Sometimes you just get so caught up in what you’re doing you don’t realise lunch has come and gone and now it’s 9pm and you haven’t eaten more than a handful of snacks all day.
Again the discipline of eating well comes with the first point, planning your day. In your plan be sure to schedule in time out to eat and you can even go the next step and plan what you’re going to eat. Meal prep and meal planning can help with this too. Picking one day of the week where you can prepare meals for the rest of the week, having healthy snacks on hand and making a conscious effort to take note of when you are hungry can all help towards eating better.
And let’s face it, when you eat well you feel well and when you feel well your business thrives.
5 – Stay On Top Of Their Inbox
This is one of the habits/skills I’m trying to get better at but also know it’s a process. I have heard time and time again of entrepreneurs saying how they were a slave to their inbox, how that little ‘ding’ of an email had an anxiety inducing effect and how they just felt like they were drowning. I’ve felt it and I know you have as well.
Outsourcing your inbox is a great way to keep on top of the chaos (see next point) or simply scheduling in time to check and respond to emails can be the little change that makes the world of difference.
Set two times each day to check your emails, one earlier in the day and one later. I tried leaving the first email check until after 10am but found I was too distracted as I get most of my emails during the night (thanks to the time difference of living in Australia). So, I now dedicate time early in the morning to checking and responding, and again later in the afternoon. I also have folders that all the ‘action later’ and ‘awaiting response’ emails go into so my inbox can literally sit at zero. It’s an amazing feeling.
Another big tip I picked up – turn off your email notifications. Especially on your phone. You don’t need that ding going off every few minutes tempting you to check it.
6 – Outsource
Best tip ever. Outsource before you can afford it. BUT… do so wisely.
Let me explain.
If you’re at a point in your business where you feel like you need to start outsourcing tasks because you’re swamped and you can’t grow, but you’re worried about how you’re going to start making enough money to cover the expense of outsourcing – you’re at the perfect time to take the leap.
Seriously. From (most) successful entrepreneurs, outsourcing was a pivotal point in their business. It allowed them to grow their business much faster and bring in way more income than they would have if they had kept trying to do things on their own.
Of course, you need to have a profitable business and plan in place of how you’re going to monetise your business but it makes the world of difference.
Another key point is to outsource to experts. Find the tasks that you could have an expert do for you, and outsource them. It doesn’t even need to be a regular occurrence. Have a graphic designer create a product for you rather than spending countless hours in Canva trying to do it yourself, have a social media expert set up your social automations, have a copywriter write your landing page for you…
Outsourcing tasks you either don’t like doing, or know someone can do better and faster than you will not only free up your time in your business to do what you do best, but also frees up so much more mental space and energy you may not have even realised was being drained.
7 – Dedicate Time To Self Development
Podcasts, eBooks, audio books, courses, workshops, mentoring and coaching. These are all methods successful entrepreneurs use to increase their self development. We never stop learning and we never stop growing.
One of the first things you should do when you start a business is invest in your own education and self development, even if it’s just a few dollars. And it should never end. I know of successful entrepreneurs who have spent tens of thousands of dollars for a single hour of coaching with an expert because they knew it would level up their business and earn them more money.
There are so many different ways you can include self development. One of my favourites is listening to podcasts in my car, I drive a lot and usually for longer periods of time so podcasts are a great way to include self development in this time. I also read every single day.
But don’t think self development is only for business, learning more about who you are, how to understand your personality and use it in your business and how to be more self aware are all ways you with grow both personally and professionally.
Read More: How To Educate Yourself Online
8 – Stop Working
Wait… what? I know most people think we are supposed to hustle, hustle, hustle and if you’re a fan of Gary Vee you’ll know that this is his approach – but even the great Gary Vee knows there’s time when you actually need to stop working.
There’s a big difference between working and working effectively. Sure I could sit in front of my computer all day ‘working’ but how much am I actually getting done? And is that even good for my mental health?
Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they have set work hours, or at least strive to have a work schedule. And they take time off – like whole days away from their business. And guess what? It doesn’t cave in!
The ability to switch off from your work (which admittedly isn’t the easiest thing to do) and find joy in other areas of your life ensures you do things that make you happy outside of work.
9 – Rest & Recharge
In the same boat as self care, stopping work and taking time for yourself, you also need to ensure you’re getting adequate rest and recharge. While hearing from successful entrepreneurs, I did notice that the amount of ‘rest’ each needed was different but the underlying point was the same – they needed good quality, restful sleep, regularly.
I’m far from the person who is going to tell you that you need a minimum of 8 hours sleep a night because a) I know that’s not always possible and b) 8 hours sleep a night makes me feel like crap. But what I can tell you is that the successful entrepreneurs who spoke about sleep all knew how much sleep they needed to feel relaxed and refreshed. I know for me I need 6 hours sleep a night, and if I go over 8 hours I start to feel like I’ve overslept. Do you know your magic number?
In addition to restful sleep, many successful entrepreneurs also take regular time out from their business to recharge and gain a new perspective on things. This may be a holiday somewhere or a few days off here and there or even just some time spent around a different group of people, but all commented on the need to recharge their own batteries every now and then.
I bet you thought there would be a whole lot more ‘work’ in this list, but that’s one of the most amazing things I found. The more successful someone is, the more they understand the need to create a level of homeostasis in their life that includes rest, self care and time out.
What do you do every day that you attribute to having a successful business?