Amanda Webb of Spiderworking.com recently put together the morning routines of business women and entrepreneurs. My contribution is below and there are lots of interesting perspectives from the other 16 contributors. For the full article, click here: http://www.spiderworking.com/blog/2017/03/08/morning-routine/
My alarm is set for either 6am or 7am on weekdays but I usually wake before the alarm. I love being woken by natural light so winter in Ireland is never my most productive time!
My morning routine has changed dramatically over the past decade . I have gone from being an habitual night owl to the proverbial lark but I cannot tell whether that is due to the changing demands of my business, the changing needs of my family or perhaps it is simply an age thing. When I started my first business I was in my mid-twenties, with a young child, I was regularly working 15-18 hours a day. It was not unusual for me to start into a new project at 11pm, work until 3/4am and start again in the morning. Start-ups are like children (and puppies), they require boundless energy, patience and the resilience to keep going through challenging phases without losing enthusiasm. But like children and puppies, businesses must mature. ‘Start-up’ is only ever a temporary stage, at the end of which a business either lives or dies. Staying on the start-up treadmill indefinitely is the ultimate entrepreneurial delusion (guess how I learned this?).
Ten years on, I definitely sleep more and I sleep better. When I wake up, I know the key tasks and appointments that I have to deliver that day. I have stopped checking email and social media when I wake up. Instead, I check three or four times a day, maximum (except on Tuesdays, when I abandon all technology). I have a fifteen-minute morning mediation routine where I visualise my day and that genuinely kick-starts my motivation. I have recently started doing yoga in the mornings but follow that with the strongest coffee I can find, which I suspect defeats the purpose of the yoga…
The most powerful predictor of whether or not I have a productive day comes down to discipline. I resist the temptation to be a busy fool and one of the ways that I have done this is by separating my role as leader of the business from my tasks as employee of that business.
At the weekends, I allow myself time and space to strategise and plan. At this stage, I am the leader. But once Monday morning arrives, I become a mere foot-soldier for my business.
My week is all about achieving prescribed tasks; daily actions all designed to move the business in the right direction. I take away my discretion to avoid unfavourable tasks and this effectively eliminates procrastination. Entrepreneurs are great at feeling busy and can make excuses for not ‘sticking to the plan’ (because it’s written in pencil, right?). But often, this comes down to a lack of self-discipline that translates into inconsistencies in work. In every failure I have experienced (and there have been many), inconsistency has played a big part. In reality, my morning and daily routines, as set out by my ‘boss’ – or weekend me – are vital to achieving the goals of the business.
Carol Tallon is the author of the Irish Property Buyers’ Handbook series from 2011 to 2015 and several business titles to date. With a post-graduate background in Law, Business and Strategic Innovation, most recently from University College Dublin, she has contributed to Irish and international media on current affairs, industry, property, innovation & technology (PropTech).
She has been involved in the construction and property industries for more than a decade and works as a strategic/communications consultant – at operational and project levels – to State agencies, industry representative bodies, private developers, construction companies, auctioneering firms and media outlets.
Carol can usually be found by the Blessington Lakes with her unruly dogs or running late through international airports after her wanderlust daughter, Katie.