For many, a typical day doesn’t necessarily look like commuting into an office, leaving work at work, or having the same schedule all the time. Especially with the rise of working from home, it’s often up to us to plan out a day that will set us up for success.
Rather than Googling into oblivion endless strategies that may (or may not!) be useful, we tapped right into the experiences of 23 entrepreneurial women who are already leading balanced and productive lives. With entire companies resting on their shoulders, it’s a non-negotiable to ensure that their days are optimized for success—even if each day may look a bit different.
While “balance” and “productivity” are unique for each of these women, we believe there are at least a few nuggets of wisdom you can apply to your own journey, whether you are running your own company, working for a corporation, or anything in between. Above all, we hope the experiences below are a reminder that it is possible to be simultaneously balanced, productive, and successful.
Founder and CEO of Chuan’s Promise, a natural skincare line focused on sustainability and inclusivity.
My approach: I try to structure my day so there are natural breaks between work time and non-work time. My experience caregiving for my dad in his final months led me to really rethink how I structure my day and question why I was holding myself to a typical 9-to-5 schedule as a solo entrepreneur. As a caregiver, I was on call 24/7 and working at all hours of the day, which meant I wasn’t diligent about finding balance and setting boundaries for myself.
My advice: Challenge yourself to think outside the box. If you are an entrepreneur, the standard 9-to-5, 40-hour workweek Monday through Friday may not work for you, and that’s okay. Embrace alternatives and set boundaries so you can find more balance in your life.
Monica M Rivera
Business and Marketing Coach at YOU WANNA DO WHAT?!, empowering women of color to market and monetize their existing skills beyond their 9-to-5.
My approach: Two practices that I heavily rely on to structure my day are batching and time blocking. Batching means that I set aside half or full days dedicated to one thing. Time blocking is a technique I use in 30-minute increments to stay hyper-focused. Both of these techniques allow my brain to stay very clean and focused on the tasks at hand without feeling stretched too thin or overwhelmed.
My advice: Parallel processes can be really helpful in achieving balance. For example, before sitting down to write an email sequence for new clients, I throw my laundry in the washing machine. I’ll start dinner before researching topics for a workshop. Mixing one household task with a business task ensures it all gets done and I still have energy at the end of the day.
Founder of Headlamp, a platform for female+ adventurers to discover instructors, content, and community to build their skills outdoors.
My approach: On Sunday, I plan my week. I block off chunks of time to work on tasks and articulate a clear goal of what I want to achieve in that time block. I make sure to work out every day so I have time for myself. I built this practice after being a corporate lawyer where I often had 10 or more deals going on at the same time at the same level of urgency. Planning my week on Sunday allowed me to get ahead of client requests and assess my bandwidth. Time-blocking taught me how to make progress on multiple fronts without getting lost in one task.
My advice: Experiment with different techniques like working out in the morning versus evening or time-blocking versus dedicating specific days to specific tasks. Carve out some time to think about what you want to achieve within a given week before you plan each day.
Co-Founder of Learn Grant Writing, helping those burnt out in their careers become paid grant writers so they can build a life they love.
My approach: Our system for planning our weeks and days hit a breaking point when our team grew past three. We were not using our project management software effectively. We switched to creating a series of project boards where everything is assigned a date and person responsible. Now I can roll into my day without any prior thought on what to do and execute the day stress-free. Taking the time to build out your repeat tasks and new projects pays dividends.
My advice: The biggest blow to balance is context switching. Pick a theme for your day. Monday is management. Tuesday and Thursdays are money days. Wednesday is deep work. If you execute Monday through Thursday without context switching, you can even take Friday off!
CEO of DIG Labs, a venture-backed, seed-stage startup changing the way consumers and enterprises interact with visual data.
My approach: I wake up and eat breakfast with the most important people in my life: my son and husband. I do this before I check my emails or Slack. This is a quality time ritual we picked up in Covid-19 and has stuck with us. Spending this quality time together in the morning helps me start the day with smiles, laughter, and a balanced breakfast. This also helps ensure my son starts the day with love and positivity.
My advice: Strong performance is built on a pyramid with physical health as the foundation. The oxymoron of balance is that it makes the rest more productive. Without physical health, the rest is that much harder. So whether it’s a five-minute walk around the block or a 30-minute interval workout, any attention to physical health will pay long-term dividends in way more than a number on a scale.
Founder and CEO of ReliaBra LLC (DBA Perkies), creating innovative undergarments for women to wear, with a focus on confidence.
My approach: As an entrepreneur, I find it very important to have some type of routine. Every day brings its challenges. Having a morning routine has helped me take on these challenges. I also think it’s important to step away at times to prevent burnout — whether it’s going for a walk in the evening to break up your workload or saying “yes” to dinner with friends. It’s important to get away from work for a few hours!
My advice: I would recommend trying out different routines and see what best suits your needs.
Co-Founder and CEO of FRONTMAN, the Gen Z brand modernizing acne care for men with skincare and cosmetics.
My approach: At times I’ve struggled to not associate my productivity with my self worth. During the Covid-19 lockdown, I overworked myself and burned out completely because work was the only outlet. Now, I have a much more sustainable outlook that understands my productivity is a direct result of balance and self care. Instead of working from the moment I wake up to the moment I sleep, I make sure I’m well rested and have my evenings free to give my brain time to rest.
My advice: You and your work will flourish when you take care of yourself first. Take the small steps you know will set your week up for success, like eating well, sleeping, exercising, and socializing. It may make you feel guilty that you’re not working, but those actions will pay dividends.
Founder of THEPRBAR Inc., an online coaching brand that empowers entrepreneurs through PR.
My approach: At the age of 26 I had to be carried out of my office in a make-shift stretcher after literally collapsing due to burnout. I have never struggled with productivity—what I used to lack was balance. Today, I structure my day according to my energy levels and have very clear boundaries with both myself and my clients. Time blocking and time buffering has been hugely helpful.
My advice: Re-prioritize daily. Identify what has to be done and the non-negotiables. Put your energy toward those tasks first, and give yourself grace to do all the rest when you feel replenished. Also, set clear boundaries and stick to them both in and outside of work.
Co-Founder and CEO of My Founder Circle, a community that helps early-stage female founders launch and scale their businesses.
My approach: At the beginning of each day, I make a full brain dump to-do list. I separate out the small tasks and the big tasks and rank them by importance. The small tasks are ones that I can handle in the 10 minutes between calls. This has helped my productivity immensely in those annoying small breaks in between meetings. I have also gotten really good at knowing what actually moves the needle in my business and how to focus on those items and say no to others. Having my first child really helped me prioritize and set boundaries. Now I have a limited number of hours for work each day and I have to make sure I am working on the right things. I only work from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and don’t take any calls outside of those times.
My advice: You will always be juggling. Some of the balls are rubber and some are glass. You will inevitably drop balls. Just make sure it is the rubber balls—not the glass ones. For me, the glass balls are: my family, exercise, sleep, and a good diet. Also know that in some phases, you will be sprinting. As long as there is an end to that sprint and you can go back to more balance once that phase is over, you will be successful.
CEO of Soapbox Project, a community that makes it easy for busy people to get involved in social and environmental justice.
My approach: In February 2022, I read the book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Dr. Alex Pang and it changed my life. I organize my work into three 90-minute chunks with at least 30-minute rests incorporated in between. This means every work block is focused and devoid of distractions. So once my three chunks are done, I’m done for the day. During the 30-minute breaks, I walk, bake, or call a friend, essentially using my break time to invest in my personal life. I’ve been more productive since February than I’ve ever been!
My advice: Set boundaries. This takes practice and you have to start somewhere. A simple first step is to draft an email template you can use to kindly say no to people who are asking for your time or energy in ways that don’t work for you.
Lawyer at The Artists’ Lawyer, a legal resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
My approach: I heavily rely on my calendar and a task management system. I like to block days and/or times in my calendar to set up a focus project, meaning I will turn off and exit out of emails and browsers, and put my phone away to knock out specific projects or tasks. I schedule these sometimes weeks to months in advance so that my calendar is free and I know I have uninterrupted time to work, even if it’s not for a specific project but rather a general administrative objective I want to focus on. This helps me to really accomplish certain things in my day and week, and I know I will feel so accomplished at the end of the time period!
My advice: It takes time. Give yourself some grace and know that you will find your groove that is unique to you, your business and your personal life.
Founder of AlwaysPlay Studios, supporting high-level certification programs for breathwork facilitators and the healing arts.
My approach: I’m a strong follower of seasonal energies and wisdom traditions that denote that personal rhythms will shift depending on the season. It’s been instrumental to find my natural work rhythms, leaning into times of the day/month/year where I’m super creative, activated, and energized, as well as when it’s time to slow down and have less on the plate. The ebb and flow is natural and the more I’ve leaned into it, not shamed myself for “not being productive,” and been okay with slow times, the better balance I’ve felt in all aspects of my life.
My advice: Start by practicing the difference between “having to” and “getting to.” There is so much on our plates, but when we actually take a look at what’s there, some of it is just absolutely unnecessary. Get rid of these things as fast as you can and you’re already on a better track.
Founder and Owner of Airtight Concepts Inc., a business strategy consulting firm for creative entrepreneurs who are destined to lead in their industries.
My approach: A few years back, I was struggling to feel great and I lacked energy, which negatively impacted both my business and personal life. This prompted me to investigate and experiment with the optimal rhythm and flow that works for my body and mind throughout the day. As a result, two drastic changes were made: first, how I schedule all my tasks, and two, how and what I eat. These changes helped me maintain a more even-keeled and grounded life, so that I could focus on living life to the fullest without worrying about “balancing” life and business.
My advice: What worked for me was to make putting myself first without any guilt or shame my No. 1 priority. This took a lot of unlearning, but this approach allows me to be present with anyone I want to help, including my family and my clients.
Founder and CEO of METL, onboarding the next generation of users from the world of traditional finance into the wonderland of digital currency.
My approach: I utilize Chinese metaphysics Ba-Zi to help prioritize tasks and projects. In doing so, I make sure to include daily meditation, exercise, and journaling. This lifestyle shift was triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and the time for self-reflection that resulted from it.
My advice: When struggling to find balance, prioritize your well-being—everything else will flow from there. Join a yoga class, visit Ashram, or learn new skills. Invest in yourself.
Head of Revenue at SafetyWing, a global social safety net that equips nomads and remote workers with borderless benefits.
My approach: Being able to work remotely has been a game changer for my career and my family. I save time and energy on commuting and office politics, and I’ve taken advantage of this by traveling the world with my family. I get to fill my cup outside of work in an enriching and meaningful way that allows me to return to my job energized and balanced. That’s why I’m such a huge advocate for remote work and am glad to see more companies catching on to the fact that it’s actually more effective to allow workers to choose when and where to work that suits their needs.
My advice: It is very much possible to find that balance between your professional life and personal life with remote work becoming more of an accessible option every day. To make sure you maximize on its benefits, look for a setup that is also location independent and asynchronous as that will afford you the most freedom and flexibility.
Christina Lopes, DPT, MPH
Founder and CEO of Christina Lopes International, a fast-growing, purpose-driven company that focuses on the advancement of human consciousness.
My approach: I practice two specific daily routines that are non-negotiable. They became non-negotiable after I experienced burnout in 2021, which took almost a year to fully heal. During the burnout, it became clear that if I continued to live only for my mission and career, I would probably not live very long. That’s where my two daily routines come in. In the morning, I exercise, meditate, do a round of deep breathing, and recite loving mantras. At night before bed, I work with the energy of the night. I turn off all the lights in my house, dance in the dark, play my shamanic drum, and meditate again.
My advice: Don’t “push through” or “hustle” beyond the limits of your body. Eventually, your body will break down and the damage will be significant. Listen to your mind and body signs and make the changes necessary to keep your beautiful body healthy and whole.
Founder and CEO of Chalonne, a brand of luxury women’s watch bands that bring elegant, expressive style and timeless design to any Apple Watch.
My approach: I take five minutes every morning to write in my gratitude journal and take a daily mid-day walk outside. I made those changes to my daily routine after taking Yale’s “Science of Well Being” online class with Dr. Laurie Santos during the pandemic. Much of the content I intuitively knew but having it packaged up in a concise way, supported by research, was a great way to be reminded of what truly matters in life and how you can actively do things to improve well-being and achieve balance.
My advice: It takes time and dedication to form new habits, so start small and don’t be too ambitious right away. Pick something that you can commit to doing every day for three weeks, like taking a walk around the block, closing your eyes and meditating, or writing about one thing you are grateful for.
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 connection, and high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to its monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.