A Week In My Life: How I stay focused and get it “all” done as an entrepreneur
“Know your goal and know how you can take steps to get there. Know the goal, know the path, take action.”
— Amanda McKinney
Want to know what a day in my life is like as an entrepreneur?
I had this question from several of my students so I thought I’d share what a week in my life looks like as an entrepreneur.
In this episode I share what my morning routine is like, how I’ve learned how to stay focused as I work from home and the tools and habits that serve me the most.
My hope is that this inspires you and maybe even to share a day in your life…because your students are curious too!
Day In The Life Of An Entrepreneur
So I’m documenting a day-in-the-life which is really more like an average week in my business, not just one day.
And when I say “entrepreneur,” I mean this is Amanda McKinney’s entrepreneurship journey, not anyone else’s. Every entrepreneur’s day will look different because we all operate differently. We need different things and structure.
The neat thing is that you can listen to my day in the life and see what you like and then give it a try. If you like it, keep it. If you don’t like it, don’t keep it. The key is to read or listen to these day in a life discussions and see what resonates with you.
And always remember not to compare your Day #1 of entrepreneurship to someone else’s Day #545. Deal?
Okay, let’s dig into my weekly routine!
On Sunday’s I plan for one hour to set myself up for the week.
If you know me, then you know I don’t like to work much on nights and weekends. I would 100% but it’s not a healthy balance for me, so I actively have to stop myself from working all the time. But my Sunday routine is something I break the rule for each week.
This generally takes an hour most weeks, and it’s the best hour I spend all week probably!
Here’s what I do:
- Read my quarter goals that are written on a big calendar in my office. This helps me start the planning process with an intention and it reminds me of my goals.
- Look at my calendar (Google Calendar) to see what appointments I have for the week. This allows me to see what’s coming up this week.
- Fill out my Full Focus Planner. This allows me to plan for the entire week and get super clear on what the important tasks are.
- Review my task management system (Click Up) to ensure that all tasks assigned to the upcoming week are aligned with the tasks that were just outlined in my Full Focus Planner work.
Inside my Full Focus Planner, I look back at my previous week and fill out what worked, what didn’t work, what I accomplished last week and what I need to accomplish this coming week in order to get closer to my quarterly goals.
You don’t have to use any of the specific products I use but rather find what systems and products work for you. A plain ‘ole notebook is fantastic!
Goal of Sunday: Prep for the week so I know EXACTLY what I need to get done each day and what is “enough” for the week. Then make sure that list is in a system that works for you so you know what to do each day to help you feel more productive and not just busy.
When can you spend an hour to plan your week and set yourself up for success? It doesn’t have to be Sunday. It makes every day feel so much less frantic and it has been a really good thing for me to implement.
My mornings all look the same during the week so I thought I would outline this separately since it happens each day.
You’ve probably heard about morning routines more than you care to, but the reason so many people talk about them is because it really matters! Morning routines (no matter what time you wake up) are super helpful.
*Note: Keep in mind I’m a morning person naturally. If mornings aren’t your jam, don’t try to follow this exactly. Wake up when you need to and when it makes the best sense for you. Not everyone has to wake up at 5am!
Here’s what mine looks like:
- 5:30am — 6:00am: Wake up. My alarm goes off at 6am but most of the time I’m up before the alarm. My dogs wake me up every day as if they’ve never eaten before and will starve if I don’t feed them ASAP. I love them, but sometimes I wish I could just hear the alarm.
- 6:00am — 6:30am: Get ready. I do all the normal things: Brush my teeth, hair, get dressed, etc. But what I’ve started doing this year (and I really hope it sticks — hold me to it!) is I’m started writing something on my bathroom mirror. My word of the year is “enough” and it has so many meanings to me, but the one I’m writing on my mirror currently is “I am enough”. I look at myself and in true Mel Robbins fashion, I high five myself and tell myself that I am enough already today even though I haven’t done anything work related. I am enough.
- 6:30am — 7:00am: Move my body. I have a movement practice every day and I’m so grateful that this is now a very easy habit for me. It wasn’t always this way. I would start but was never super consistent until a year and a half ago. I made a birthday promise to myself to see “can I hold myself accountable to move my body for just 10 minutes a day, everyday and not tell anyone about it?” I succeeded in half of that idea. I moved every day for at least 10 minutes for one full year. But I ended up telling two people during that year: Michael because we talk about everything and Megan, my private yoga teacher. Both were proud and let me continue to hold myself accountable which was great. And I found that mornings are better for me so now it happens every day and I don’t think anything about it. Some days it’s 10 minutes of yoga, some days it’s 30 minutes of strength work, some days it’s 15 minutes of dancing around. The rule is 10 minutes of movement. Period.
- 7:00am — 7:10am: Drink. That’s right, I drink. First it’s 12 ounces of Athletic Greens to get my vitamins in and then I pour some yummy coffee. When it comes to breakfast, I don’t have a routine with this. I love breakfast, but sometimes I’m not feeling it and sometimes I am. I’m sure this is not a good thing but it’s real life. I eat sometimes and sometimes I don’t. This is also the time that Michael and I chat about what’s happening in each other’s day. If we have time to have coffee together we will, otherwise we chat for a few minutes and get to work since we both work from home. I love that!
- 7:15am: Work. It’s time to get to work at this point so I head into the office and get after it.
Start The Work Day Routine
As for what happens when I start work, this does vary by the day but I still have some things that happen regularly.
My “start the work day” routine:
- Review Full Focus Planner: I review what’s on deck for that day or write it out if I didn’t identify it the day before.
- Start what’s open: Once I open my computer the task of the day is often open. I set this up during my “wrap up the day routine” which I’ll share about more in a minute.
- Positive Mood Setting: My lighting is generally low and I have an easy-going playlist ready to hit play on. I often light a candle in my office too and when it’s cold out, I’ve got a space heater ready.
- Tackle my MIT first: Knowing what my most important task is and how it relates to my 90-day goal is key for making every day count.
Wrap Up The Day Routine
As for what time I end my work days, this does vary as that’s one of the really awesome perks of being an entrepreneur: You set your own schedule! However, I do have a system I use no matter what time I end my day.
Here’s what my “wrap up the day” routine looks like:
- Full Focus Planner Review: I open up my planner and make sure I’ve crossed off all the must-do items. If I missed something I make sure to assign it to a different day. I write any notes about the day that are floating around in my brain so I can close out the day with them written down.
- End of day email sweep: Like I said before, I look at email one more time before I put my computer to sleep
- Open up anything I will start with the next day: When I log into my computer the next day, I want my first task to be open so I can’t get distracted. If it’s an email I need to write, the Google Doc is open. If there is any way for me to kickstart my day as soon as I open my computer, I will get it ready!
How do I determine when to end my work day?
This is still in the works, but I can tell you what I’m doing now and what I’ve tried.
My rule 80% of the time is no work on nights and weekends and “night” for me is after 6pm. It used to be 5pm but now that Michael works at home and he often works after 5pm due to time zones, I can sometimes find myself still at my computer at 5:30 or sometimes 6pm depending on how the day went. But the majority of the time we do our best to take a walk at the end of the day and we need to beat the sunset, so 5pm is generally my rule.
However, I tried something over the summer in 2021 and it was remarkable! I worked five-hour work days and called it quits at 1pm. It was fantastic! I enjoyed the sunshine and read outside, took walks, and stepped away from the screen. I kept this going but only a few days a week since I had some other commitments later in the year.
Overall, I’m not sure where I will land with this. I love it and it was super productive when I did it, but I set some big goals this year and want to double down on a few things. So this might not happen all year round but it will be happening over the summer again, for sure!
But my answer to how I determine the end of the day has two parts:
- Pick a time and stick with it, and
- When your MIT for that day is done, call it quits and celebrate that.
This is something I’ve learned over time and most certainly wasn’t the case when I started my business, but it’s how I like to operate now.
What I found is that context switching is really tough for me and I lose a lot of time.
This is the case for most people, but since I track my time I noticed I wasn’t optimizing my time. So slowly I made it so I have daily focuses for my business on a few days. This will evolve over time but it’s been really helpful for me.
Here’s what my daily focuses look like:
- Mondays: Thrive Days! I realized that most yoga teachers have more flexibility on Mondays, so I do my best to have my Thrive calls on Monday’s now. I wish I could accommodate all time zones across the world, but it doesn’t work out Generally speaking, Monday is a better day for me to host live calls for Thrive. If I don’t have live calls, I’m working on Thrive projects and tackling my MIT for the week.
- Tuesdays: Coaching Call Days! This is when I have my one-on-one coaching calls. I have 1 and 2 hour call options for Thrive members and if you aren’t in Thrive you can book a call on my website and you then get access to Thrive as part of your follow up after the call. It’s a win-win! And it helps me stay super focused to have these on a specific day of the week. I have monitored how many calls I can have in one day and over time have realized what my limit is, and that’s been super helpful too. *Calls also happen on Thursdays sometimes as well.
- Wednesdays: Podcast Days! I have guest interviews, I record my intros and outros, I prep for future episodes, etc. All podcast work happens on this day and it really helps the podcast team because my editor knows when to expect things from me and everyone knows when I’m heads-down in podcast work. I generally work at least a month ahead, so this rhythm has really worked out!
- Thursdays: Flex Days! Like I mentioned, I sometimes have coaching calls on Thursdays as well, but the majority of the time this is a day where I work on projects. Each quarter I outline what I will focus my energy and effort on that quarter and that usually includes a few projects I need to dedicate some deep work to. This might be Thrive trainings, or a presentation I’ve been asked to give, etc. Since my day is open, I’m able to dedicate long periods of time to deep work. If you aren’t familiar with this concept, read the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. It’s a good one!
- Fridays: Admin Days! By the time Friday rolls around I’m spent, so this day is dedicated to the tiny tasks that have popped into my head throughout the week. This is when I will take care of things like customer service stuff or cleaning up my email inbox for more than just 20 minutes. This is a catch-all day for the tasks that need to get done but don’t necessarily require all kinds of creativity or brain power. I also have this day free of meetings so I know I can always take the day off without having to shift meetings around.
Work Day Routines
Like I just shared, each day of the week has a focus for me, but there are a few things I do each and every day related to work that I thought I’d highlight too.
This is the trap that I would hang out in all day, every day.
I like to blame my corporate days for this one, but it’s really me that’s making it stick around. I will “procrasti-work” by checking email. I will waste time by checking email.
This is the time suck of all time sucks for me, so I have to have super strict boundaries with this or else I would get nothing done. Seriously, I would still have no students, no revenue and 4,000 coffee dates on the calendar if I hadn’t put boundaries in place for this. This might not be your time suck but believe me, you have one and you need to find it ASAP. It’s killing your productivity!
So here’s what I do for email:
- Morning email sweep: Set a timer for 20 minutes and I get through as many emails as possible in that timeframe.
- Afternoon email sweep: Set a timer for 20 minutes and I get through as many emails as possible in that timeframe.
- End of day email sweep: Set a timer for 20 minutes and I get through as many emails as possible in that timeframe.
- My rule for emails: Do it, Delete it, Delegate it. I mentioned this in last week’s episode #131 too and it’s been super helpful. I only touch an email once, so I can only open it if I have time to take action with it. Otherwise it stays unread.
I should note that I’m not perfect with this, but I aim for 80% of the time and I’m good with this rule. There are days that I spend more time in my inbox and days where I don’t check email at all. But 80% of the time I stick to this cadence.
The next thing that can be a time suck for me (and you too!) is social media.
Facebook is not a trap for me in the slightest. I log on and answer questions that have come through and I log off. I didn’t always have the system I have now but I’ve always used this method:
- Set a timer
- Answer questions
- Schedule posts
- Get outta there!
Currently I have help with this process (which admittedly makes this much easier) but it hasn’t always been this way, so don’t you dare tell me you can’t do this. I did and you can too.
My favorite tool for this is the Chrome Extension: Facebook Feed Eradicator. This completely gets rid of the Facebook Feed so you log in to take action and don’t get sucked into anything. It’s the best!
Instagram is my social media trap. I love Instagram and would hang out there all day if it made me money! Since it doesn’t make me money and other things need to get done, I have systems in place for this too. Here’s what I do:
I’m allowed to look at Instagram AFTER I get my MIT done for the day.
Instagram is my gift to myself for getting the Most Important Task done for that day. At that point I can check in with Instagram but I still set limits. I try to look at Instagram for 10–15 minutes and then get back to work and this works most days.
So here’s what I do for Instagram:
- I am allowed to look at Instagram after I get my MIT done.
- I then use Instagram as more rewards throughout the day and check it after I complete another task. Anytime I check Instagram I do my best to stick to 10–15 minutes. I fit this in when I don’t want to start another project before my next call, etc. And each time I look at Instagram, I engage with someone. That’s my rule, if I have time to scroll, I have time to cheer someone on or respond to something inspiring.
- I typically look at Instagram once again in the evening sometime when it’s just down time and I’m not working. Sure this may seem silly since it’s not part of the work day anymore, but it’s when I get to scroll and consume content that is inspiring for me and see what my students are up to.
You’ve likely heard me talk about this before but it’s worth repeating. I track my time. Yes, I track my time manually and it’s not the easiest thing to get into the habit of at first and you probably rolled your eyes at me but it freaking works.
Test it, I dare you. I double-dog dare you to be honest with your time tracking to see how much you learn. I learned that I wasted a TON of time on silly things and it took WAY longer for me to do things than I thought it did. All great lessons to learn.
Fast forward to today and I’m still learning about these things, but I know so much more than I did and this is how I’m so productive.
I use a free tool called Toggl for this but this isn’t the only one. Find one that works for you and use it. Use it manually too. This helps you learn so much!
What does my lunch break look like as an entrepreneur?
This is going to get some people up in arms, but I will often eat at my desk or while I work somewhere else.
The reason for this is not because I can’t stop working, but because I’m often able to watch a training or listen to some audio I need to make notes about while I eat. I’ve found that I can be consuming something that I need to take action with while I eat.
But that’s just some of the time, the other times I eat at the kitchen table with my husband Michael when we can eat together. He works from home, which we both love so much, and when possible we will eat together at lunch. We do this as much as we can but it can’t happen every day. We will often take a mid-day walk after lunch too. This allows us to check in with each other and take a break from work too.
How do I avoid distractions throughout the day?
I have learned how to stay focused and I break up my day too. We can’t really focus on one thing for a really long time.
There’s TONS of research on this topic and here’s a few key findings:
- We can only stay focused on something intensely for about 50–90 minutes before needing a break (52 minutes specifically according to this Inc article)
- We often have the capacity to work productively 4 to 5 hours a day (Wired article)
What really matters is what YOUR capacity is and finding the rhythm that works for you. For me, it means working in the morning because I’m on fire in the morning.
Afternoons are not the best creative time for me so I don’t do that type of work in the afternoon. And for me it means that I can stay focused on a project for 2 or 3 hours, but I need to switch from sitting to standing and take a bathroom break without looking at my phone.
Speaking of phones, mine is on airplane mode most of the time or it’s literally across the dang room. My phone will distract me just like it will distract you too if you let it. So put the thing across the room!
I also communicate to my husband what I need during the day. Here’s a few things we’ve developed through working at home together:
- We use Hue lights in our house and I turn the light in the hallway outside of my office room to RED when he cannot come into the room.
- If he comes into my office and I don’t stop working and turn away from my computer, he knows I’m in the middle of something and can’t stop. I’m not ignoring him, I just can’t stop mid-sentence or mid-work and he knows to walk out and I will come talk to him when I’m done. If he needs something urgent he will talk when he walks in.
- When my step kids were in school and still lived at home, I ensured that I didn’t have meetings or recordings of any kind at the time they came home. I could have them later, but this allowed them to come in and say hi (and I could continue working if needed after we caught up).
Bottom line: you have to figure out how you work best and then work to your strengths, and of course communicate with any housemates you have too. Expectations are what’s needed in these situations.
Day In The Life Recap
Your entrepreneurial journey will be different in each phase of your business, so this day-in-the life will change too.
In the beginning I had no students but tons of ideas to test out. Now I have more students and even more ideas but less time to test them out.
So at first it’s all about identifying your work/life boundaries and getting set with those early on. Then test all the ideas and have fun. Then as your business grows you have less time to test so you have to know your focus. This is where 90-day goal setting comes in.
Know your goal and know how you can take steps to get there. This is how I’ve grown my business and kept my marriage, my friendships, my sanity. This is what I will live by no doubt for the life of my business. While the days will look different, the concept will be the same: Know the goal, know the path, take action.
If you enjoyed this day in the life idea and you’re not inside my membership Thrive, I hope you join us in there. We talk about this kind of stuff all the time and it’s how I run Thrive: In 90-day sections. You set a goal and get after it by declaring your MIT each week. It’s amazing and has helped so many entrepreneurs! I hope you’re the next one!
Your next step
Declare your 90-day goal. What do you want to accomplish in the next 90 days?
Then when you wake up tomorrow, identify one thing you can do, one small step you can take that will get you one step closer to that goal. Just one tiny step, that’s it. And get after it!
No amount of planning your day will matter if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, so start with the goal and enjoy the process of achieving it.
Until next time, embrace your day in the life as an entrepreneur and give yourself grace along the way.
For more stories like this, listen to the Marketing Yoga with Confidence Podcast.
About Amanda McKinney (Marketing Coach for Yoga Teachers)
Amanda McKinney is a Marketing Coach with a passion for helping yoga teachers find the tools and the confidence within themselves to build the yoga business of their dreams. She does this through her podcast: Marketing Yoga With Confidence and online offerings. All of which focuses on building confidence and community with an extra dose of encouragement every step of the way.