Your day’s packed with many things personal and or professional nature. But have you ever wondered what a day in the life of some of the most successful entrepreneurs looks like?
Steve Jobs used to spend his mornings in face-to-face meetings with his product and management teams, his afternoons in the design lab with Apple’s top designer, and his evenings sitting around the long wooden table in the kitchen at his home in Palo Alto, California, having dinner with his wife and kids.
Tim Cook starts sending out company emails around 4:30 am and by 5:00 am, he can be found in the gym. Warren Buffett’s daily routine includes a lot of reading. In fact, he spends about 80% of his day reading. Richard Branson attributes his successful running of over 300 companies to waking up with the sunrise – at 5:45 am. Rahul Varshneya of Arkenea spends his morning engaging with his team of software developers.
What’s common among all these people? That they’re super focused in whatever they do. We’ve rounded up the daily routines and habits of 5 such successful entrepreneurs that you can emulate or draw inspiration from.
#1 Neil Patel, Co-Founder, KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg
In one of his blog post, Neil shares what his typical day looks like:
6:45 am – the start of the day – before I even get out of bed in the morning, the first thing I do is grab my phone to see all my missed calls, text messages, and emails that I need to respond to. I usually respond to everything while laying in bed.
7:00 am – the Neil Patel workout – every morning I try to hit the gym. My workout isn’t that rigorous. I usually lift some light weights, run on the treadmill while watching TV, and then head into the steam room to relax.
8 am – getting dolled up – although I am a guy, it takes me a while to get ready in the morning. From showering to styling my hair, I spend around 30 minutes every morning getting dolled up while watching CNN.
8:30 am – the most important meal – by the time I get out of the shower, my assistant usually has breakfast ready for me. She goes over what I have to get accomplished for the day, and I tell her what errands she needs to take care of.
9 am – communicating with the world – I get bombarded with so many emails every day, that I spend hours in my inbox, reading and responding to emails. Most of my emails are from people asking for help, people asking for money, or people who are looking to meet up or schedule a call with me.
10 am – talking people’s ears off – if I don’t talk on the phone, I don’t end up closing deals. So, for two hours in the morning, I try to talk with potential clients and other entrepreneurs to figure out how I can grow my company’s revenue or bring more cash into the business through other means.
12 pm – enjoying a free lunch – I typically have lunch meetings with perspective clients on a regular basis. Many of these meetings don’t result in new revenue for my startup, but the few that close have a big impact on the business. And if for some reason I don’t have a lunch meeting, my assistant has lunch ready for me. She also has me respond to emails for an hour or so.
1 pm – communicating with the world – whether I have a lunch meeting or not, I am always backlogged with emails. So, for another hour, I respond to emails and work on setting up meetings and calls for upcoming days.
2 pm – random crap – I always have random stuff that comes up within the day that I need to complete. I usually do it during this time to give myself a little break so that I don’t get burned out.
3 pm – talking people’s ears off – a few hours of phone calls during the morning isn’t enough. I usually spend the next 2 hours on phone calls or in-person meetings.
5 pm – happy hour – happy hour is truly the highlight of my day. I love drinking alcohol while shooting the shit with potential clients. I try to do this on a daily basis. If I am unable to do a happy hour meeting, I am typically checking emails.
6 pm – communicating with the world – as usual, I am back to emails. I really enjoy helping other people as people helped me when I was a new entrepreneur with no money. So, for me, emails aren’t a chore, they are a blessing.
7 pm – my last meal – I usually don’t have too many dinner meetings. I typically eat out with friends, or my assistant cooks me a meal before she leaves.
8 pm – communicating with the world – responding to emails again.
9 pm – living a peaceful life – from writing blog posts to hanging with friends to just relaxing and watching TV or even finding out ways to help local non-profits, for the rest of the night, I just chill. All of the things I mentioned help me relax and feel happy, which relieves most of my stress.
11 pm – communicating with the world – if I am still awake, which I usually am, I end my night writing more emails and falling asleep in front of my computer screen.
#2 Noah Kagan, Founder, AppSumo
In one of the AMAs on Inbound.org, Noah explains his daily routine and how he get so much accomplished.
5 am – Wake up for my old man morning piss and go back to sleep.
8 am – Actually Wake up. I don’t use an alarm, I like naturally letting my body get up.
8 am-9 am – I drink green tea and make oatmeal or protein waffles. During this time I won’t use a computer and will read a book or magazine. I like reading free CB2 / west elm catalogues for design inspiration.
9 am-10 am – This is my brain fodder period. I check email for anything urgent to respond to, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, AppSumo statistics and OkDork email sign up statistics.
10 am-12 pm: I am at the AppSumo office or some cafe working. I prefer working in a cafe, hence our new ‘downstairs at the office’ is Taco Café. When I start my work day I generally pull out my moleskine and list 3 things I want to do that day. I try not to look at anything as it helps me really think which 3 things are really the most important that day. This is my most productive period of the day.
12 pm-1:30 pm: Team lunch at Taco Deli
1:30 pm-6 pm: Is a combination of work, goofing off and talking with the team. I try to add in fun activities throughout my day (note to self: I don’t do this enough). I get some of my best thoughts not in the office, but playing disc golf, walking around or just reading a good book.
6 pm-7 pm: I’ll go to the gym or do treadmill at my home gym.
7 pm-8 pm: Eat out. Try to read or be with a friend to catch up during this period.
8 pm onwards: I usually work a bit, watch a downloaded Tv show/movie, clean up my place, etc.
12 am’ish – Get ready for bed and read a book in bed. I only bring a book or Kindle to my bedroom. Find it too easy to get distracted with iPad or phone.
#3 Rand Fishkin, Founder, Moz
In an interview to GeekWire, Rand illustrated and gave a glimpse of his average day.
I usually go to sleep between 1:30 am-2:30 am. and wake up around 9 am-9:30 am. This, unfortunately, does not work well when I need to travel east and/or get up early. I’ve actually illustrated my working days below:
He also gives out his mantra for unplugging, “One night a week, I stop working at 7 pm and don’t look at anything work-related until the next morning.”
Rand’s daily reads comprises of GeekWire daily email digest, Moz blog, Everywhereist, SearchEngineLand, Inbound.org, Hacker News, Techmeme, Metafilter, True Reddit, The Slog.
#4 Leo Widrich, Co-Founder, Buffer
Leo revealed his work routine in one of the AMAz on Inbound.org, when someone asked him for some tips to stick to a daily routine.
I think the key to a good daily routine is to have a great environment. I think Jim Rohn’s quote applies: “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.“
This is something that I believe makes all the difference of whether you can stick to a daily routine or not. Finding others who also have an interest in a great and productive routine really is probably 80-90% of what you can do to set yourself off on the right track.
I think when you start out with your own new habits and routines don’t be too strict with yourself. If you get 3 out of 5 days with your new habit, that’s great, celebrate that. And work towards 4/5 and then 5/5 for example.
Further, to an answer to another question about how does an average day look like for a content marketer, Leo wrote,
In general, I write in a 2-step process. The first step, normally in the morning starting at 6:30 am is the sourcing process. I find lots of research studies on a topic. Write a few sub-headings and basically make a big mess in a word document. I intentionally jot down lots of things, that don’t flow well. This helps me to break the ‘blank page’ syndrome. I do this for around one hour or so.
Then I go and do other tasks (mostly business development and some admin tasks that I’ve taken over.) Then in the afternoon, around 3-4 pm I get back to the post. The great thing is that my brain has by then normally made sense of all the different sections. I then edit and write the actual content in a concise form. In this 2nd phase I’m very focused on the actual wording, the flow and ordering all the research I’ve collected.
I then publish that post next thing in the morning after doing a few final tweaks, such as adding images, and so on.
#5 David Karp, Founder, Tumblr
In an interview with Inc, David admitted he is very anti-schedule. Here are the highlights of his average day from the interview:
I try hard not to check emails until I get to the office, which is usually between 9:30 am and 10 am. If something urgently needs my attention someone will call or text me.
When I get to the office, I go through my inbox first and try to respond right away. My inbox gets emails only from people in my company and from my girlfriend. A folder called Robots gets anything not written by a human, such as bank statements and Google Alerts.
Then I go through my Unsorted folder, but I respond to very few of those. I’ve found that if you’re not responsive to email, it trains people to leave you alone. As I go through my email, I make a list of things that I need to do that day in my notebook.
We roll out changes to the site every day at 11 am.
Every Monday morning, we have an all-team meeting in our conference room, I started holding these meetings as a way for everyone to get up to speed on what everyone else is doing.
I have two screens on my desk. The first is a 30-inch Mac monitor. I always have Tumblr open in the Web browser. The second is a vertical screen, which I use only for writing code. I used to spend all day coding, but that changed when we hired engineers who were a lot smarter than me. I still jump in to help code as needed.
We all break for lunch between 12 noon and 1 pm.
Usually around 3 pm, I need a pick-me-up. A handful of us will pop out for tea at a place around the corner.
In the afternoons, I usually want to bury my head in some project; either screwing around with design or coding something.
One or two nights a week, I usually work late; until 8 pm or 9 pm. When I do, I like to see who is still in the office and then take them out for dinner as a way to say thank you.
I spend a lot of time with people who work at Tumblr, but I make a very poor effort to hang out with other people in my life.
Sleep is precious to me. I’m very disappointed if I don’t go to bed before midnight. We have a rule: no laptops in the bedroom. Being on computers all the time makes me feel gross.
I rarely work on weekends unless there’s a serious database or infrastructure emergency.