At least once every couple of days, I ask myself, “Why is my job so hard today when I invented this job myself?” I mean, it’s one thing to hate your 9-5 if you have an evil boss or endless meetings. It’s another thing to have a tough or worthless day as a business owner, since you pretty much created the job yourself.

However, no day is perfect and as business owners, we have to contend with a lot of variables. There’s variable income, difficult clients, contracts, and fires to put out from time to time. So, how can you prepare for the inevitable and still love the job you created? Well, below is a checklist for giving yourself the best possible chance for a successful day as a business owner.

1. Prepare the Night Before

It’s never good to sit down at your desk, open your computer in the morning, and stare blankly at it not knowing where to start. Ideally, you’ll want to jump into your work, knowing exactly what you’re going to tackle first. The night before my work days, I sit down with my editorial calendar which is an excel spreadsheet with a lot of boxes on it containing my to do list.

I look over my deadlines and my to do list and decide what I will do first. Sometimes I number the tasks and try to decide what will get finished before and after lunch. This helps me to stay on task and know exactly how I’m going to spend my day.

2. Get a Great Night of Sleep

I used to be a terrible sleeper. It used to take me hours to fall asleep. I’d just stare at the ceiling, trying every trick in the book, but nothing worked. Then, I gave birth to twins, and because of them, I realized how to have a great sleep routine.

Every night, I’d bathe my kids at the same time, put the same lotion on them after their bath, read them the same books, and put on the same white noise. This helped them establish a pattern where they always knew it was bedtime. Sure they got up in the middle of the night like all babies, but they went to sleep pretty easily once we established that routine.

We put in so much effort to get our kids to sleep that one day it clicked that I needed my own bedtime routine. I needed to essentially put myself to bed, to tell my body that sleep was coming. It’s taken months but now I have a great routine going and I sleep better than ever. This makes me a happier person the next day and a better business owner.

3. Stay on Task

Once you have a great night of sleep and you wake up with your day planned out, the last step on the checklist is simply to stay on task. This might mean blocking social media sites, turning your cell phone to “do not disturb” mode, and telling people “no” when they ask you to do things that might detract from your to do list.

If, of course, you’re having a truly unproductive day then stopping your work to do a bit of yoga or go for a quick run can help you get back on track. Other than that, though, do you best to stick to your plan, and you’ll end your work day feeling like the incredibly successful business owner and entrepreneur that you are.


Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions, earn more, reach their goals, and take on a more active financial role in their families. Named the Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance in 2014, her writing and expertise have been featured in dozens of notable publications and in national media.

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