By Hannah McCauley
Membership Manager at Dreamers & Doers
When it comes to setting yourself up for maximum productivity and success, it’s not always about massive shifts in your routine. Sometimes, it’s the small habits that matter most—as long as you stick to them consistently. Take it from these six high-achieving women. All successful business owners with thriving companies, they’ve developed sustainable habits to ensure a balanced and productive life even in the midst of busy seasons.
As you’ll see from the reflections below, something as simple as leaving meeting-free time in your calendar or moving your body daily can create the positive snowball effect you need to ensure your days are met with productivity and success. Try one or try them all—we promise these habits have the potential to change your life for the better.
Robin Weinick, Principal at Resonant, LLC coaching purpose-driven leaders and teams so they work meaningfully to deliver the outcomes that matter.
My approach: I’ve banished meetings from my early morning time slots. That’s when my brain works best, so that time is reserved for tasks that require deep thinking and creativity. It also guarantees that I accomplish something meaningful before my day officially begins. It lets me feed my inner introvert before jumping into conversations with other people later in the day.
My advice: Figure out the times of day when you’re most effective at different kinds of work. While you may not be able to fully customize your schedule to maximize your effectiveness, even small changes can help keep your energy level up throughout the day.
Misasha Suzuki Graham, Co-Founder of Dear White Women, LLC, helping white women use their privilege to uproot systemic racism without centering themselves in the process.
My approach: The first hour of each day is just for me and I always move my body in that time period. After two back surgeries that resulted in my entire thoracic spine being fused, and working 60 hours a week at a job that caused me to sit for hours, I realized that I had to prioritize my body or it was not going to be there for me. I call this time period my moving meditation, and it allows me to process what happened the day before, get ready for the day ahead, and be present for my partner, kids, and work.
My advice: It may sound counterintuitive, especially when you feel like you don’t have balance, but prioritize yourself first, just like they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first in airplane safety videos. I find that it gives me the clarity to then know what needs to be prioritized each day. Because it’s not so much daily balance, but life balance, that we should be striving for in the end.
Belma McCaffrey, Founder, and CEO at Work Bigger, a career coaching platform where dissatisfied high achievers come to find their purpose.
My approach: At the end of the week, I go through a quick process where I check in on my challenges, goals, and successes. From here, I plan my week in advance. I do the same with my day. I plan the next day the night before so I know what’s coming. I try to keep my list down to three items. This allows me to be productive and not get overwhelmed. We so easily over-schedule ourselves but when we don’t accomplish everything we planned, we tend to feel like a failure. This sets us back. I try to set myself up for success by giving myself opportunities for wins. Less is more!
My advice: I think we all go through waves. I find some days I feel really balanced and on others, I feel overworked. When the latter happens, I see it as an opportunity to adjust. What do I need to shift in my thoughts and behaviors to feel better?
Yewande Faloyin, Founder and CEO of OTITỌ Executive Leadership Coaching, showing high achievers and entrepreneurial leaders how to confidently accelerate into more impactful leadership positions.
My approach: I maintain balance and high levels of productivity by doing two things daily. First, I prioritize actions that keep me energized, and second, I add energy boosters where needed throughout the day. My prioritized actions include waking up naturally, a morning yoga practice, bible reading, an hour break, and no meetings before 10 a.m.
My advice: Remember that balance is only a win-lose if you let it be—you choose your mindset. Focus, instead, on working smarter, not harder by introducing behaviors that improve your leadership, productivity, and success.
Kristy Cullinane, Co-Founder of Plum Diamonds, crafting lab-grown diamond rings for couples who love quality, carats, and ethical sourcing.
My approach: My most enjoyable and effective days are ones when I wake up and already have my daily Post-it note ready to go. This means that the night before, I’d reviewed my priority lists and pulled out what I want to achieve the following day. If it doesn’t fit on a Post-it, then it’s too much. And if it can’t be turned into a to-do, it’s too vague. Not only do I have clarity on what needs to happen that day, but it makes it easier to feel relaxed once everything on the Post-it is crossed out. I tackle the items on my list in whatever order feels best. I might squeeze in shorter tasks between meetings or save more rote items until I’m feeling fried at the end of the day. A lot depends on where my energy levels are at different times of the day.
My advice: Read Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. I’d recommend it to anyone who cares about making the most of their lives. Sounds dramatic, but it gives great perspective on the bigger picture. I found it helpful and comforting.
Danielle Polini, UX Research Consultant at Danielle Polini, working with early growth stage startups to understand where to focus and how to win with customers.
My approach: I limit the number of decisions I have to make in the morning to keep my energy up for a productive day. I know when I’ll wake up, what I’m going to eat, and how I’ll exercise. When I don’t have to make these decisions I have the freedom to enjoy my morning and add in any other activities that might bring me joy each day. Focusing on joy and energy in the morning has helped me feel productive the rest of the day, especially when I have to make big decisions at work. This change in my routine came after deciding to get a puppy who inevitably threw me off my normal routine and tanked my productivity.
My advice: Make note of what brings you joy and what drains you, then use that to structure your day. Focus on the joy at your best time of the day, whenever that may be. Try to leave draining activities for another time or outsource them completely.
All individuals featured in this article are members of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community and diverse ecosystem amplifying extraordinary entrepreneurial women through PR opportunities, authentic connections, and high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to its monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.
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