How does a full-time business owner structure their daily routine to get things done? Honestly, I used to try all kinds of different productivity hacks but nothing seemed to stick. That’s because at the time, I wasn’t aware of this ONE thing. Or maybe, I was just too stubborn to admit it, which is this: the more I tried to be productive, the more exhausted I became, and the less I got done.
Productivity hacks didn’t help. And in fact, they just made me irritable. Simple tasks would take me way longer than they needed to. But eventually, I stopped treating myself like a machine when I realized that my productivity depended on how well I prepared for each day.
That’s why I want to tell you everything there is to know about my daily productivity routine as a full-time business owner. I’ll walk you through how my days look from start to finish, how I plan them, how I prioritize tasks, my productivity start-up routine, how I stay productive through work blocks, and my work shut-down routine to prepare me for the next morning.
If you’re feeling like your productivity’s been in a slump, hopefully you can pick up a thing or two from these systems!
Why “productivity hacks” don’t work
Before getting into my routine, I’ve got to say, one major key to how productive my days are is how well I’m prepared for that day before it starts.
Back when I first started my business, it took me a long time to realize that…
- Our bodies and minds aren’t machines: if we don’t take care of them, no “productivity hack” will make us more productive
- The harder you try to be productive, the more exhausted you become and the less you get done
It’s true. You can’t be productive when your brain is burnt out. Please believe me on this one. So rather than rely on “productivity hacks”, I’ve taken a different approach to productivity. Instead of working harder and pushing myself through exhaustion every day, I started treating my brain and myself like a battery.
Work and strategizing drains my battery. Social media drains my battery. But sleep, walks in nature, hot baths, exercise, or painting — those are things that recharge my battery!
The math is simple — if you drain your battery, you’re not going to get much out of it, no matter what you do. If you recharge your battery during the day and throughout the week, that’s when you’ll be more productive.
Battery “chargers” and battery “protectors”
For me, Monday and Tuesday afternoon walks in nature, rain or shine, are my battery chargers. Weekends with “yes” days and no rules are my battery rechargers. Acupuncture on Thursdays is a battery charger too.
Before watching a movie with my husband in the evening, setting up an alarm for 11 P.M. so we can get a solid 8 hours of sleep, is one way I protect my battery. Not drinking wine on Wednesday date nights, that’s another way I protect my battery. Avoiding social media during the day is a way I protect my battery too.
Once I knew how long tasks in my business took me in various situations, at various times of the day, and in different conditions, I planned my days to work with my body instead of working with an “empty battery”. I separate my day into deep work blocks, each lasting no longer than 90 minutes without a break.
Not every single minute of the work day is about being productive. I actually get more work done in less time by working in three 90-minute deep work blocks per day with walks in between, painting in between, or a workout, because I’m doing things that continuously recharge my battery. That way, during tasks that require high focus and productivity, I can show up as recharged as I can be. There’s a great book by the way that talks more about this called Deep Work — I highly recommend it!
Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s dive into how my day looks from start to finish.
How I start my morning (and spend the night before)
The night before
As I already established, it’s important for me to start the day with full batteries. To start, I wake up 6:45 A.M. during the weekdays and make sure to get around 8 hours of sleep. I take weekends off from work, and go to bed at 11 P.M. every night. I’m working on bringing my bedtime to 10 P.M. but like any habit, it’s currently a work in progress.
I try to stay away from electronics most of the time in the evening, especially 2 hours before bed. Instead, I do something for myself to recharge my brain after work. I hang out with my husband, call my mom, listen to meditation, or sometimes I just lie down on a carpet in the living room and chill.
We only watch TV on Wednesday date night, and that gets shut down at 11 P.M. To prioritize bedtime, we make sure to be showered and ready to go to bed right after watching TV.
Now, I get this may be freaking you out because it sounds strict, but keep in mind these are routines we built for ourselves to support US. Yours might look different, but these are habits we’ve built over time as we discovered what made us feel tired during the day. We then continued to make small changes to improve our routines little by little.
For example, I used to spend evenings scrolling on TikTok and my brain would be so wired at night that I’d often wake up with a headache! I didn’t know what was causing it until my naturopath told me that spending time on electronics in the evening, especially after a day of screen work, was not conducive to restful sleep. So I stopped that habit and since then, the quality of my sleep has been incredible. Of course, it makes sense that I couldn’t be productive during the day if I never let my brain fully recharge throughout the night!
If you’re someone who spends time on electronics in the evening and feels exhausted in the morning, I highly recommend trying to change that habit and see how it impacts your productivity.
The morning of
After I wake up, we have a quick breakfast — usually yogurt with fruit and granola — then I spend 10 minutes reading something. I typically like to read mindset books in the morning. Next, meditate for 5-15 minutes and write in my morning journal. And after that, I either do yoga or a workout.
The idea behind this routine is to start my workday with as recharged of a battery as I can. I don’t go on my phone. I don’t read the news, watch the news, or listen to the radio. Instead, I protect my attention and brain power in the morning by waking up earlier and following a routine that helps me have a productive day.
And right now, since we don’t have a baby yet, we’re making the most out of a morning routine that works for us.
How I spend my workday
Working on main tasks
When I start my work day, I only open one window on my computer which is my Notion work day sheet. There, I’ve already got the day planned out. I review what I want to accomplish that day, write out time blocks, and set up alarms to keep me on track.
I don’t use to-do lists anymore. I only work in work blocks. Usually, I have 3 main tasks for the 3 work blocks of the day.
For example, a 3-hour content planning work block might look like this:
- 1 hour: Brain dump content ideas for Instagram carousel posts
- 1 hour: Write script for those carousel posts
- 1 hour: Write script for upcoming reels
I also have a little toggle list called “would be nice to do.” These are smaller tasks I need to take care of, and I like to tackle some of them at the end of the day if I have the time.
Managing emails + admin tasks
I only reply to emails once a day, usually at the end of the day, and I don’t open my mailbox otherwise. Social media comments and messages are another once-a-day task, typically in the morning when I post my daily content.
Sometimes, I set aside full catch-up days to finish larger tasks I couldn’t wrap up during the week in my work blocks. For catch-up days, I also plan out work blocks rather than a to-do list, because if I don’t set a certain amount of time aside, I could work on a small task all day long!
Also, I want to say that I don’t work on any admin tasks or surprise tech glitches as they come up during the day. If it’s an admin task or something technical, I write it down as a note in Notion, and deal with it at the end of the day if I can. If I have other priorities during the week, I deal with it on Friday, delegate it to my VA, or simply deal with it when I have more time.
I’m cautious about not getting caught up in my mailbox, so I keep my phone on “Do Not Disturb.” I don’t even look at my phone during the work day. I also don’t play around with design details in Canva or on my website, or pick up random jobs that come to my mind because it can eat up a lot of time, attention, and brain power.
Then, I set aside admin days or admin hours on Friday where I take care of all the little things that need to get done, but aren’t necessarily revenue-generating tasks.
That may be for example:
- 30 min: Send receipts to my assistant
- 10 min: Pay bills
- 30 min: Update that thing on the website I was supposed to
- 1 hour: Write podcast episodes plan for next 2 months
I try to knock out all those little tasks in one go. It keeps things streamlined and efficient.
How I structure my work blocks
Morning vs. afternoon work blocks
Now, when it comes to the work blocks themselves, in the morning, I start my day with the tasks that require the most of my brain power and focus. This could be either working on the next program or digital launch, or planning my next launch or how to scale the business.
Most of the time, it’s writing lessons for my educational programs.
The first two days of the week are dedicated to working on new products. On Wednesday and Thursday, I spend more time working on the marketing side of my business. But either way, every day, my first work block in the morning is a task that requires the most of my brain power and energy. This is where I spend time writing content, since that takes more energy than recording content, which I can do in the afternoon.
Afternoon work blocks are for tasks that still require work, like putting together resources in Canva or batch creating designs for my carousels, but don’t require as much deep thinking. Deep work I leave for my morning blocks. If I need to study something or do research, I’ll also do that in the afternoon blocks.
Writing out a work block plan
Before I start any work block, I spend a few minutes writing out a plan in my Notion working sheet. I define the exact outcome I want to achieve for that work block. I won’t just jot down a goal like, “write more emails”. Instead, I’ll write something like “have the next two newsletters written and scheduled in Flodesk.” I like to define what “done” means for the task I’m working on because if I’m not specific about the end goal, I’ll get lost in the task.
Then, I’ll write out the steps I need to accomplish that task. Going back to the newsletter example, that could be something like…
- Write the purpose of each newsletter in Google doc
- Write bullet points for first newsletter
- Spend 10 minutes brain dumping each bullet point
- Put in Grammarly to finish up intro and end of newsletter
I’ll also write out what might prevent me from accomplishing that task. This could be listing things like over thinking, losing the main message, or getting distracted by online research.
These lists help prepare my brain to make the most out of my work blocks. I learned this technique from the Pomodoro method, and I thought it sounded like a lot too, trust me. But spending 5 minutes writing this plan saves me from 50 minutes of pointlessly clicking around on my computer, not knowing what I should be working on next!
If you’re curious about my Notion Templates — after allll the time I’ve spent tweaking it, it’s now officially available on my website for you to check out.
What happens if things go wrong
Now, of course, I don’t always finish everything in each work block. That’s why I make a note of the smaller tasks I didn’t complete. This way, I can either move them to a catch-up block the next day, or plan an entire catch-up day if I need to. Either way, I won’t waste a full day working on a single task because I know I have more important tasks I need to make progress on!
Finally, at the end of each task, I spend 5 minutes doing a review. How did it go? What could I do to make it easier for me next time? It’s an honest reflection to help me not repeat the same mistakes that could lead to the same inefficiencies every week.
Like I mentioned before, in between my work blocks, I plan for breaks to recharge my battery. I get out of the house on Monday and Tuesday for an afternoon walk. Thursday I go to acupuncture or get a manicure. And Friday, I actually clean the house between work blocks so I don’t have to do it during the weekend.
Then, at the end of the day, I start my work shutdown ritual.
How I finish my workday
My work shutdown ritual is simple.
First, I cross off all the tasks I’ve completed. Then, I take a look at the tasks I didn’t complete. If there isn’t any pressing deadline for those tasks, I simply drag and drop them into a section in Notion I call: “didn’t get to this week”.
So on Friday, when I’m planning for the next week, I can distribute those “didn’t get to this week” tasks into specific work blocks for the week ahead. I also plan out my work blocks for the next day based on my weekly schedule. This way, when I start work the next day, I know exactly what I should be working on.
After that, it’s time to rest from the work day and spend time with my husband. We might go out for dinner or enjoy a meal at home. Sometimes, I like to wind down with evening yoga — or do any activities that recharge my battery. Then the cycle begins all over again.
That’s it! That’s my daily productivity routine, one I’ve adjusted and built over the years to support my business and life.
Want to feel more productive in your daily routine?
If I had to sum it up into three key takeaways that will give you the most impact on your daily productivity, here they are:
1. Treat your brain and body like a battery — Think about how much you’re draining it and how much time you spend recharging it. Are you expecting yourself to work on an empty battery? Identify the habits that are draining your battery and look for ways to reduce them. Also, what is it that recharges your battery? How can you incorporate more of those activities into your day to recharge?
2. Ditch the to-do list and prioritize work blocks — Plan to tackle the most important and energy-draining tasks when your battery is at its fullest, which is usually the beginning of the day. Before each work block, define what “done” looks like for the task and outline how you’ll accomplish it. Don’t forget to identify what you’ll avoid doing to stay on task.
3. Plan for tomorrow, today — Prevent feeling lost and overwhelmed at the start of your work day by planning ahead. You’ll be more productive when you know exactly what you’re going to work on and what the main tasks for the day are.
Curious to know how I structure my daily routine as a full-time business owner that keeps me rested and productive? Tune in to today’s podcast episode here 🎧.