Many people wonder how they can accomplish more throughout their days or at their jobs. The experienced entrepreneurs interviewed for this article shared some of their favorite morning routines for increasing productivity with me. Read on for tips to stop feeling overwhelmed and start getting more done.

The Importance of Being Informed

QuHarrison Terry co-founder of Inevitable/Human
QuHarrison Terry co-founder of Inevitable/Human

QuHarrison Terry is an entrepreneurial force. A co-founder of 23VIVI (the first digital art marketplace fueled by blockchain technology), marketing agency VNM USA, and futurist media platform Inevitable/Human, Terry is also an advisor at Mark Cuban Companies and has been noticed by outlets such as Huffington Post and Xconomy. Here are his top three activities in the morning, in his own words:

“I read every morning for at least thirty minutes. I’ll traditionally start my morning by reading the latest from Stratechery by Ben Thompson and the daily briefing from MIT’s Technology Review. Next I figure out what’s the most important task I have to solve or make tremendous progress on that day. Then I game plan how I’m going to break my day up to ensure I finish that task. I catch up on all messages and emails I missed while sleeping. The grind never stops between helping out our portfolio companies in my day job and responding to Inevitable/Human members that might have something to add to my almost daily futuristic theories.”

Optimizing Service & Task Management

Martin Product Design is a company specializing in intelligent, practical products which make our world more easily accessible. Their flagship creation, the FreeWheel, is a tool that quickly and safely winds cables, hoses, and ropes of all kinds. The FreeWheel has received favorable coverage from Pro Tool Reviews and praise from various industry leaders. With physical merchandise, warehouses, and shipments requiring daily management, co–founder and COO Liam Martin took time out of his busy schedule to share with me how he plans his days:

“I keep a Google calendar and have a specific focus for each day of the week. I also have a shared Google document my business partners and I use collaboratively to keep updated on objectives we want to achieve.  To start the day, I check this document to see what the most urgent objectives Martin Product Design needs to achieve are. I find having a different focus for each day helps avoid monotony and lets me zero in on a specific objective or goal of the company. If I am too scatterbrained and trying to do everything at once, I don’t really accomplish or finish any one thing.  I also have a task list that I maintain each week on this Google document. I try to keep the task list relatively small, so each task can be accomplished in that week. We found that once the number of tasks pileup too much the list no longer becomes useful. We have tried several task management apps and programs, but the added complexity often got in the way of completing the tasks themselves.

Once I start my day, I do the simplest tasks first, often because that way I can accomplish something right away. This allows me to get in a good state of mind to work on more complex objectives. Finishing simple tests makes me feel like I accomplished something so I can give myself a little more time and focus to concentrate better. Each morning I spend time sorting what jobs or items need to be completed by the end of the day. For example: Making sure shipments are organized and sent out on time versus more macro – level activity, such as contacting vendors, working on sales channels, and thinking about the vision of the company. Another example is answering urgent customer service needs. I know that this needs to be completed to maintain a higher level of service that MPD customers expect.”

Reflections on Mission

From left: Nick Venturella, Matt Jacoby, and Steve Banik, co-founders of Eleven Music Career Center
From left: Nick Venturella, Matt Jacoby, and Steve Banik, co-founders of Eleven Music Career Center

The founders of the Madison, Wisconsin-based Eleven Music Career Center describe their vision as “a business strategy and education company helping serious DIY musicians build a sustainable music career.” The Eleven team also hosts networking events and partners with various organizations to help connect music communities. Eleven has three co-founders, and all three shared important moments from their morning routines:

“One of the first things I do after making coffee, is write in my daily journal.” says Nick Venturella. “This helps me clear my head, express any emotions – good, bad, or otherwise. In my writing, I identify things I’m grateful for, which helps keep me grounded. I also prioritize the actions I need to take in my day to advance my personal and professional goals. As an entrepreneur and a musician, this journaling ritual is often where the beginnings of new business innovations and new song ideas are captured. At this point I have volumes of these journals that span more than 20 years. I love knowing that my kids will inherit them one day get to know more about their dad’s day-to-day happenings.”

Business man stretching at home during his morning routine
Business man stretching at home during his morning routine

Venturella’s business partner Matt Jacoby added that his activities to start the day include exercising either through gym workouts or drumming sessions. Jacoby enjoys preparing lists and mentioned, “Most days I try to use a Pomodoro timer app called Focus that increases and places my productivity into twenty – five minute work sessions.” Steve Banik, another boss at Eleven, had this to say:

“I make a strong pot of coffee, and while it’s brewing I stretch and do pushups for about ten minutes.  I then go straight to the coffee and make a high-level mental note of the three main things I want to accomplish, ideally two before noon and one after. With these goals in mind, I dictate how my day is spent. Without them, the day controls me.  All three goals may not be accomplished, but as long as my success rate is generally 50% or greater, I consider it a win. If I don’t accomplish what I intended to, I spend some time trying to examine the reasons why. Was it due to interruptions outside of my control (for example, needing to take care of a sick child) or within my control, for example spending too much time in one area and not enough in another? Regardless, what matters most to me is intent, focus and time management.  If I can get those aspects dialed in, it’s a successful day.”

Never Stop Learning

It may, at first, seem that entrepreneurs have similar habits to most workers (especially in regards to coffee consumption). Yet upon closer examination, you will notice the extra degree of planning and preparation these leaders employ when tackling even the most mundane activities. Another important factor differentiating these high-level entrepreneurs is the practice of continuous learning–whether about themselves, their clients, or their field of work—successful managers recognize each day as an opportunity to grow and further educate themselves. These are not eccentricities or vapid words, these are the habits they have established because they have seen the positive results they procure. By setting goals, managing their time effectively, and gaining insight about the arenas they operate in, elite entrepreneurs can keep better pace with the 24/7 business cycles which affect every industry.

What tips does your morning routine look like? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.