Ask any entrepreneur, and you are guaranteed to stumble upon an exciting tidbit on how they kick start their day. Now these anecdotes may not be the most fascinating ones to consume, but they surely are worth paying attention to. After all these guys did not get to where they are today but by procrastinating or pushing things till the very brink of emergency.
Productivity is never an accident. Choosing to be a productive individual is a conscious decision — a will to do better with the time that someone has. It’s an outcome that often arises from a deep rooted commitment to excellence, good planning and discipline, and I am not just making this up.
In my last job, which was with a startup, I encountered a cool habit that one of the co-founders would engage into. He would come to work crack at dawn and read blogs sitting at his desk for a good hour or so — no phone calls, no e-mail interruptions. And he engaged in this little ritual of his religiously every day. When asked for the reason as to why he would do what he does, he simply remarked, “It refreshes me and gets my creative juices flowing.” Simple as that.
The key take away here is not the fact that he starts his day in a rather un-corporate way but the fact that he engages in a habit, regularly and in a disciplined way, which makes him feel productive for the rest of the day. Had he gone straight to answering work emails and attending meetings (which is sort of an occupational hazard for all entrepreneurs), he notes he would have mentally-drained himself by the middle of the day.
Now let’s take into consideration things that some generalists have to say. In her recently published book, time management expert and author Laura Vanderkam talks about what most successful people do before breakfast. She explores typical pre-work habits of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders, and has come across quite a few interesting insights. However, one thing that jumps right at you when you read her comprehensive guide is that successful people are successful because they devote some time from their busy daily schedules to themselves — a personal indulgence if you may call it.
This personal indulgence bit, even if it lasts for ten fleeting minutes, is quite prized for business leaders. And ask any one of them and you will note that they will not trade it for any grand meeting, even if it’s with the Pope (for the sake argument).
So what do successful entrepreneurs do once they are well rested and ready to kick start their day? Well, the following 5 habits should give you a pretty good idea:
1. They are all early risers
Entrepreneurs are perpetually swarmed with phone calls, investor meetings, vendor meetings and what not. Their time is easily spent attending to needs of others and perhaps the only time they get to allot to themselves is when they get up early. The hours between waking up and getting to work are theirs and theirs alone. Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, for example, cites that she wakes up every day at 4 a.m. and is in the office by 7 a.m. The bottom-line is pretty simple — a productive day starts with waking up early.
2. They devote early hours to important things
Early mornings offer the perfect setting to sit down and focus on important tasks without being interrupted. What better hours than the early ones that come beaming through with the crack dawn to get started on important things. This is often a necessity since the rest of the day, for an entrepreneur, is every so often spent attending to everybody else’s needs, and the hours seem to just fly away at jet speed.
3. They all plan ahead
Checklists and to-do lists are like a bowl of cereal to startup guys. It’s so staple and essential you can only wonder how things would work without a checklist to follow. Almost every entrepreneur swears by a virtual assistant, which conveniently helps them to plan their tasks for the days to come. And often, these folks use the uninterrupted hours of early morning to fill their respective checklists and indulge in some strategic thinking.
4. They quickly browse through e-mails
Now while many management gurus would frown upon this particular activity, there is no way you can keep an entrepreneur from checking his/her e-mails first thing in the morning. They may not even get out of bed for this, and there is no way you can convince them to do otherwise. In a way, this habit makes sense since browsing through e-mails in the morning gives them a chance to scan their inboxes for urgent messages that need to be addressed immediately or draft a few important e-mails while their mind is still fresh.
5. They stay well-informed
Just like my boss in the previous job, most start up leaders spend a good chunk of their morning hours consuming news, blogs, discussions on LinkedIn, checking their Twitter feed and things like that. They may read on the go or while doing their morning cardio routine, but staying tuned to the world of business (especially) is a productive habit that every entrepreneur will delve into. It’s almost a genetic trait for these guys. So by the time they get to work, they are pretty well versed with what’s going on in the world and this almost always helps them to put things in perspective for the day to come.
Now, while their routines may vary, the one thing to take away from this entire post is the fact that successful people are almost always the first ones to get started with their day, even before everybody else has had the time to brew pot of coffee. It’s not really a mandate, but a lifestyle choice that many of them have made and it seems to simply work.
Meeta Sharma is an independent writing and editing professional from digital marketing domain. Loves marketing and everything about it.