This is probably an understatement, but entrepreneurs are some of the busiest people around. A day in the life of an entrepreneur is chock-full of business decisions, research and networking. Because there’s so much to do and so little time to do so, entrepreneurs can easily get off track and become distracted with nonessentials.
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Chat or listen to some successful people, though, and you'll notice that they have several daily routines or habits that have steered them to success. Here are five things that productive entrepreneurs do every day:
1. Establish a routine. If an entrepreneur doesn’t set and stick to a daily schedule, how can he or she accomplish anything? It’s a challenge for the average person to juggle his or her personal and professional lives. Without a routine, an entrepreneur won’t be complete any work.
No one can really provide a routine for you. Set up one yourself based on what’s going on in your personal life and your work habits. If you have a family and happen to be an early riser, then you probably want to start early in the morning before anyone in your household rises. If you’re more productive at night, then set up a routine based on being a night owl.
Establishing a routine can also help you prioritize your tasks. That’s what Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter and Square, did for months while building both companies. He actually worked eight hours a day at each company, meaning that he put in 16-hour workdays. How? He followed adaily routine that looked like this, according to the Buffer app blog:
"Monday: Managing and running the company Tuesday: Product Wednesday: Marketing and communications, growth Thursday: Developers and partnerships Friday: Company culture and recruiting"
By setting up themed days, Dorsey could focus on one task at time so that he could actually complete a task, according to Buffer's blog, which also noted that entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, ofThe 4-Hour Workweek fame, favors keeping a more open schedule. The basic idea is that by having a plan, even if only for a day or week in advance, you’re not wasting valuable time.
2. Exercise and meditate. The importance of exercise has been well established so I won't bore you with the details and figures. But some really successful people make exercising a priority. The CEOs of Apple, Xerox, Pepsi, Christies and Starwood Hotels all start their days by getting their hearts pumping, according to Business Insider.
But what if you’re not the type of person who likes to rise early or has the time to work out the first thing in the morning? Work in a routine at some other time of day.
Even if you don’t lift weights at home or in the office or go for a morning run, at least do yoga or meditate.
Any sort of activity to relieve stress and clear your mind will provide a much needed release. And it will be a great way to give you time by yourself and help you prepare for tackling the next project.
3. Check in on your progress. As an entrepreneur, you’re extremely busy. In fact, you may be so focused on the task at hand that you may have neglected a couple of really important things. That's why at some point during the day you should check in on a range tasks.
For a couple of minutes check how far you’ve been progressing toward the goals that you’ve established for yourself and the company. When you do so, you’re breaking down these goals into attainable tasks that can be accomplished daily. Taking the time to evaluate your progress will help you decide how to further prioritize your time.
It also wouldn’t hurt to figure out your cash flow. You probably should this every day because without money, your business is as good as done. To do this effectively, create and run your business using a 30-day cash-flow projection. This will help you identify what money is coming in and what you’re spending daily. Furthermore, keep track of invoices for clients and start a collections process if need be. Whether you call your bank, check online or chat with a bookkeeper, it’s better to be safe than sorry with your finances.
Finally, spend time every day to follow up with clients or peers via phone calls or emails. Donald Trump is known for making important phone calls first thing in the morning. These days it's not wasting time to check email. You never know what important message you might miss if you don’t take the time to go through your in-box.
4. Spend quality time with family and recharge. Successful people try to manage to prioritize spending some time with family, according to a new Harvard Business School study. If they could set aside time, you, that uberbusy entrepreneur, can squeeze in time for your spouse (and children). When you spend time with the most important people in your life, it not only clears your head. It also helps you remember what you’re fighting for.
And if you think that startups don’t understand the significance of being an involved parent,check out what Fundable did: It made sure that its employees didn't sacrifice time with their family for their careers.
But what if you’re single and don’t have children? That’s still not a reason to miss out on living your life. All people need some time to recharge their batteries. That means enjoying whatever it is that you enjoy doing. Whether you enjoy going to the movies alone, having drinks with friends or going for a bike ride, take time to smell the roses. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get inspired along the way. And if even Jack Dorsey took off on weekends to hike and reflect, you, too, can take off some time once or twice a week.
5. Plan tomorrow -- tonight. Did you grow up with a parent who made sure you were ready for school the night before? Whether that involved getting your clothes out or preparing your lunch, these rituals shaped you. So prepare for the next day before hitting the hay.
I learned this trick from Scott Stouffer. He co-founded a SEO Engine, a company that I consult for that helps companies use data to figure out what's working online. Stouffer insists on keeping a schedule every day. The night before a big meeting, he sends out an email telling everyone what's needed.
When you arrange before going to bed at least a couple of tasks or goals for the next day, you’re more likely to wake up and start on the project at hand. This can also help you create priorities in your schedule for the following day instead of letting thoughts of unfinished work accumulate. Plus, this evening time is a good time to get some work done because everyone is probably asleep or about to drift off. President Obama, for example, seems to have perfected the art of getting ready for tomorrow the night before.
And one final word about sleep: Be sure to set a bed time. There’s obviously nothing better if you need to be fresh for the following day. Virtually successful entrepreneur goes to bed at the same time every night.
Be sure that you don’t get distracted when trying to fall asleep: Leave the phone or computer in another room. You’ll be glad the next morning when you wake up refreshed and ready to take on the world.
An entrepreneur and connector, John Rampton is the managing editor of search-engine marketing news site Search Engine Journal and founder of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Adogy, a marketing company specializing in helping startups. He also serves as an advisor and investor to SEO Engine.
This post originally appeared at Entrepreneur. Copyright 2014.