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What’s the hardest part of maintaining a routine?

13 entrepreneurs on how they stick to routines.

6 min read



The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only organization composed of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Read previous SmartBrief posts by YEC.

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Q. As an entrepreneur constantly on the go, what is the hardest part about maintaining a consistent routine and how have you overcome it?

1. Keep an organized calendar and task list

I keep everything organized with Google Calendar. I like to book my meetings or calls back to back, so I can have the “presentation mindset” during that time. After (or before) that, I cut out all of the distractions and get down to the essentials, such as spreadsheet work, emails, documents, etc. Being on the go can be very distracting and break up a healthy structured work if you let it. — Andy Karuza, FenSens

2. Being vigilant about your top priorities

To some degree, not having a consistent routine is the routine in and of itself. But there are certain things you’ll need to prioritize to maintain your sanity. Whether that’s when you go to bed and for how many hours you sleep, your workout and/or meditation schedule, or when you knock out emails, calls, etc., be vigilant about protecting those boundaries. — Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40

3. Look to mindfulness for stress management

Your schedule is constantly changing and you have to be ready to take a flight and meet with suppliers halfway across the world at any moment. The best advice is to be adaptable and plan for change. Mindfulness can help with stress, especially when you’re starting up. — Phil Laboon, WUDN

4. Build a lot of micro-routines

A fixed daily routine is not sustainable when you’re an entrepreneur. In my case, business travel makes it impossible to keep a daily routine. To overcome this, I build lots of micro-routines that are based on 90-minute cycles. When I travel, I bring my own protein powder and coconut oil so I can maintain my breakfast routine. You can do the same for exercise and before-bed routines. — Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Doorbell

5. Rely on discipline and productivity programs

Entrepreneurs are busy people. We seem to have a never-ending list of things we want to accomplish and it feels like things never move fast enough. That’s why I invested in and use a time management program called the Rapid Planning Method,which allows me to focus my energy on the most important things I want to accomplish. It also helps me to be more disciplined and productive. — Kristopher Jones,

6. Be OK with bad days

If you are Type A like me, and most entrepreneurs are, then we know that sometimes we can be hard on ourselves. We plan and demand for success: schedules, hustles and metrics to measure. My most recent lesson is that we are humans too. While the coach in us sets the game plan, sometimes the athlete in us needs the rest. There are going to be bad days. Be OK with it, reset, then bounce back. — Michael Hsu, DeepSky

7. Stay physically active

Staying physically active is a big part of feeling mentally healthy for me. While traveling, I try and do two things to stay active: 1. I love the Strava App. Tracking my runs in cities around the country and world help motivate me to continue running. 2. Pushups and situps — you can do them everywhere. I try to do a few sets every morning when I wake up, and every night before I go to sleep. — Mitch Gordon, Go Overseas

8. Don’t adjust to different time zones

I try to keep to my original time zone as much as possible so I can keep a routine, which may mean eating and sleeping at weird times. But it really does help. When the time zones are too far apart, I keep my same schedule but do it on the local time zone. — Drew Hendricks, Buttercup

9. Think of your time as money

The hardest part is dealing with the unknowns each day that you have to address. This can skew your entire day, whether it’s dealing with an issue with a client or a backend project that needs your attention. The way I overcome it is guarding my time as money. Ensure you block of time each week for the top priorities you need to get done as well as time for yourself. — Joey Kercher, Air Fresh Marketing

10. Find places with like-minded individuals

As a digital nomad, one of the greatest challenges to maintaining a consistent routine is isolation. To overcome this it’s important to find a good co-working spot. We learn more by osmosis than we give ourselves credit for. Habits and routines rub off on those you’re around most often, so pick somewhere that puts you around people you want to emulate. — Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.

11. Account for unexpected issues

Every day can bring the unexpected, which takes me away from my routine and balance. I deal with it calmly and find ways to shorten certain things in order to still get everything done for the day. If for some reason I can’t fit it all in still, I don’t beat myself up. I just know the next day is one to stay on task and that may be free of those unexpected issues, allowing me to catch up. — Andrew O’Connor, American Addiction Centers

12. Live in the tension

\It takes self-discipline to meditate in the mornings or exercise at the hotel. But your circumstances and environment shouldn’t dictate your priorities. Take control and figure out what’s negotiable and what isn’t. Like a rubber band pulled near its breaking point, maintaining a routine comes down to living in the tension. — Robby Berthume, Bull & Beard

13. Ask yourself what you can outsource

Every day I have to stick to my “blocked” schedule for an event, class, meeting or an important task. The hardest part in maintaining my consistent routine is wasting time on things that I’m not supposed to do. Before I block my schedule, I ask myself if the task can be delegated, or if an event can be attended by someone else. In this way, my team and I will be more productive. — Daisy Jing, Banish