Six Things to Add to a Small Business Owner’s Morning Routine

Get each day off to the best start possible with these six best practices for your morning routine.

July 7, 2021

Your morning sets the tone for your entire day, so get each day off to the best start possible with these six best practices for your morning routine:

1. Process your inbox down to zero.

This one is as much about creating space in your head as it is about creating space in your inbox.  Whether you live your day inside your e-mail or have a basket on your desk marked “incoming,” sift through each item and make a call as quickly as possible:  (i) if it’s trash, then throw it out; (ii) if you can do it in less than two minutes, then do it; (iii) if not but you can delegate it, then delegate it; (iv) otherwise, put it in the stack of things that you’ll do at the next opportunity and put them on your to-do list.  Once you’ve gone through that exercise, you’ll be mentally ready for anything that pops up throughout the day because you’ll have the mental space available to deal with it.

2. Exercise.

Exercise is an under-appreciated part of owning a business.  You’re an athlete, and every day is a competition.  So train for it!  Whether it’s going for that five-mile run before the sun comes up or just doing some push-ups after you’ve overslept, exercise enough to get your heart rate up without tiring yourself out and you’ll feel more energized and ready to go by the time you get to work.

3. Review each functional area of your business.

Spend some time each morning thinking through the status of your business in terms of your production activities, marketing initiatives, finance and accounting, and personnel.  Each of these areas are big ticket items for your business, and reviewing each one of them will help you find things that you need to fix.  You want to keep them humming like a well-oiled machine, and if something’s broken, then take care of it at the earliest opportunity.

4. Make a to-do list for the day.

Many people shy away from making to-do lists because they dread not getting everything on their list for the day done that day.  Don’t fall into that trap!  Once you have a list for the day, you can start working through it, and crossing off an item will motivate you to try to get through one more task before the end of the day.  And if you can’t finish everything that day, then you can pick up where you left off the next day without having to add more items until you have the bandwidth to do so.

5. Set one goal for the day.

This one goes right along with making a to-do list.  The better you are at making to-do lists, the longer they’re likely to become.  To deal with that, you have to accept that you can’t get everything done in a day and that some tasks will have to roll over to the next day.  The best way to deal with that is to set a goal for that day.  Choose the one task on your list that you intend to finish that day no matter what.  Then no matter what else comes up that day, you’ll at least be able to say that you succeeded in accomplishing what you set out to do that day and will get to enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

6. Take care of old business first.

Some things just have a habit of rolling over on your to-do list over and over again.  Maybe they’re such big projects that you feel like you don’t have enough time that day to get started.  Maybe there’s something inherently unpleasant about doing them.  Maybe more important things keep popping up and distracting you.  Either way, the longer they sit undone on your to-do list, the worse you feel every time you look at them.

Treat these tasks like old leftovers in the fridge.  Eat them first before they go bad!  After you’ve made your to-do list for the day, circle back and take care of one thing, however small, that’s sitting in your backlog and cross it off your list.  If you haven’t started it because it’s too big, then break it down into smaller chunks and do one of the chunks.  If more important things keep distracting you, then schedule a period of time on your calendar during which your co-workers and employees shouldn’t interrupt you (short of the outbreak of World War III or a giant octopus attacking your business, of course).  If there’s something inherently unpleasant about the task, then either delegate it to someone else or just hold your nose and suffer through it.  No matter how bad it is, like old leftovers in the fridge, it won’t get any better with age!