“The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” – Samuel Johnson
What you do is important, but what you do continually is even more critical. Not surprisingly, the most successful entrepreneurs are those who habitually do great things; not all at once, but in small, daily steps.
These daily habits, when adopted, honed and practiced regularly, mean the difference between entrepreneurs who are effective, and those who are simply busy.
Here are 9 daily habits to add to your routine:
Start the Night Before
Every night, before you go to bed (or before you leave the office), make a list of your top 3 priorities for the next morning and place it next to your computer. Then, do whatever is necessary to minimize the amount of distraction that has the potential to occur before you get back to your desk in the morning. If you need to lie out your workout clothes ahead of time or get a programmable coffee pot that will run automatically, do so to limit the number of things that could delay you from getting to your top 3.
Get Up Early
From millionaire Peter Shankman of The Geek Factory to lifestyle entrepreneur Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, many entrepreneurs choose to start the day early. Babauta gets up at 4:30am each day, and Shankman starts even earlier at 4:15am. Both exceptional business owners say that scheduling their days in this way helps them be more focused and productive in their work.
Pay Attention to Your Energy Levels
No one can go 100% all day, and exceptional entrepreneurs know this. Evan Williams, founder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium, is one business owner who’s found a way to work with his rhythm, rather than against it. Like many people, Williams tried working out first thing in the morning, but found that he was losing his most productive time to the gym. Instead, he now works out mid-day to replenish his flagging energy.
Keep Your Motivation High
No one, not even the most successful founders, feel excited about everything, every day. That’s why taking in motivational material on a regular basis is essential. Whether it’s a daily motivational podcast like The Daily Boost, a motivational blog or daily quote, make time in your day to keep your motivation high. A daily habit of motivation will keep you going when the inevitable rough times hit.
Make the Most of Every Minute
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you don’t have any time available to waste. One easy way to make the most out of your schedule is to work while you’re working out. Rather than wasting that time watching television at the gym, think through a pressing business problem or use your tablet to work on your most important task (unless you’re prone to motion sickness).
Even if you’re only able to let your mind wander through a challenge facing your business, working while working out can be a great use of this solitary, focused time.
Pay Careful Attention to Your Finances
No successful entrepreneur gets where they are by wasting money. Craig Wolfe, founder of the collectible rubber duck line CelebriDucks, is one entrepreneur who’s learned from watching others’ mistakes. Wolf says that he’s seen so many businesses spend recklessly and then go bankrupt, that he practices careful frugality in his own business and in his life.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best when it comes to finances, but knowing that forces me to put an extra emphasis on the frugality that will help me be successful over the long term.
Always Be Learning
When you get complacent, you lose. It’s a simple truth of business, there’s always someone out there ready to take your place, eat up your market share, and cause your company to fail. That’s why the most successful founders never rest; they’re always learning. Whether it’s reading every day like Russell Sarder of NetCom Learning or investing in webinars or conferences, the best and the brightest stay that way because they never, ever stop learning.
Have Scheduled Downtime
Most business owners find that if they don’t schedule something on their calendars, it simply doesn’t get done. But scheduling activities isn’t the only thing you should use your calendar for; you need to schedule your downtime as well. Times of rest are deeply important for both your basic brain function and your overall productivity. Everyone needs enough sleep, vacations from work, and most challenging of all, regular breaks throughout the day. Scheduling those breaks is an effective way to make sure they happen.
Review Your Day Before Bed
Benjamin Franklin was one of the most amazingly successful entrepreneurs in American history. Long before the internet or social networking with angel investors, Franklin invented the lightning rod, bifocals and other products (while also working as a politician, postmaster, physicist, and civic leader). The secret to his success? Every night, Franklin asked himself the simple question, “What good have I done today?” Reviewing your day before bed in order to celebrate your wins and improve on your shortfalls will set you up for success the next day.
Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, but by implementing these nine daily habits, you’ll find the road much smoother and your success easier to achieve. Start with one habit, and once it’s ingrained into your daily routine, choose another one. Before long, you’ll be living like an exceptional entrepreneur.