One of the things that separates an entrepreneur from a successful entrepreneur can be boiled down to a single, beautiful word: routine. Successful entrepreneurs spend a great deal of time not learning how to do as much as they possibly can, but instead how to make every second count. They find the routine that works for them - that allows them not only to juggle their personal and professional lives, but one that allows them to prioritize their tasks and get their essential work completed at exactly the right time.
Legend has it, Steve Jobs (the late Apple founder) used to spend the entirety of his mornings in face-to-face meetings with his product and management teams. David Karp (founder of Tumblr), on the other hand, takes a more "traditional" approach - he doesn't do any work until he gets into the office between 9:30am and 10:00am and when he does, he starts by going through his email inbox before finalizing changes to the Tumblr site that roll out every day at 11:00am.
In stark contrast to those two big names, Mark Cuban (host of Shark Tank and serial entrepreneur) tends to take an "all business, all-the-time" approach to his day. "Business is my morning meditation" he said, in an interview with Entrepreneur.com. "Business is what I like. I get up and I work immediately. I love doing this."
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When he was still involved with the day-to-day operations of Apple, Steve Jobs would spend his afternoons in the design lab with Apple's top designer, devoting the majority of his attention to upcoming products. In a way, this shows how good he was at compartmentalizing his tasks - he built his routine around the idea that he needed to devote 100% of his attention to certain ideas at certain times and found a schedule that facilitated that.
Over at Tumblr, David Karp takes a lunch every day between noon and 1:00pm and then works again until 3:00pm, when he and a handful of his team members head out for tea at a little place close to their offices. He finishes his head working on a project of some type, devoting every ounce of his attention to the task at hand.
When you've got as many different projects on your plate as Mark Cuban, your afternoon routine will obviously vary depending on the day. However, one thing he DOESN'T participate in is meetings. "Meetings are a waste of time unless you are closing a deal," he said in an interview recently. "There are so many ways to communicate in real time or asynchronously that any meeting you actually sit for should have a duration and set outcome before you agree to go."
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Steve Jobs developed a reputation as something of a work horse, which is why the final part of his day was so interesting - he used to devote his entire evening to sitting around his home in Palo Alto, California, having dinner and spending time with his wife and kids.
David Karp is similar. Even though he works late one or two nights a week, he still makes an effort to get home to see his family. "We have a rule," he said in an interview with Arkenea.com: "no laptops in the bedroom. Being on computers all the time makes me feel gross."
Mark Cuban's "all business, all-the-time" approach continues into the evening, where he regularly stays up late in an effort to give himself a competitive edge. In an interview with Business Insider, he said this approach served him well when he was starting his business and continues to this day: "I had to commit to making the effort to be as productive as I possibly could. It meant making sure that every hour of the day that I could contact a customer was selling time, and when customers were sleeping, I was doing things that prepared me to make more sales and to make my company better."
It's important to understand that there is no "one size fits all" approach to the day in the life of a successful entrepreneur. People like Steve Jobs, David Karp and Mark Cuban couldn't have routines that are more different, but one constant remains throughout: they figured out what they need to do to get the work done, period.