GTD - David AllenMost days small business owners are juggling all the stuff that comes at them all day, either planned or self-inflicted, with a somewhat unsystematic, gut level kind of approach. I know I do that – sometimes it works, sometimes it really, really doesn’t work.

I also know that there is a perfect kind of day for me in my business, one that has effective, efficient and purposeful written all over it. I don’t always work that way, but when I do, it’s a lot more fun.

So I thought I would outline what my perfect business day (non-business days are another subject) looks and feels like and hope that you can share the same, or at least start thinking about intentionally creating perfect business days.

One disclaimer before I lay this out – I don’t, by any means, do this kind of day everyday – or even enough, but it’s a goal.

5:00 am, practice appreciation and silence, catch up on RSS reading, email, read New York Times
7:00 am, wake the kids up for school, eat breakfast with them
8:00 am, workout with my wife at gym or take a lap around Loose Park
9:00 am, at the office plan the day by category – I have about 8 buckets in business and life that I try to make sure I step in every day – mostly aspects of business like marketing, creating, finance and vision. It’s all important and you’ve got to do a little on each daily.
9:30 am – 1:00 pm – This is powerwork time for me – I’m a morning person so I get the most done here
Lunch in here somewhere – I need to get better about this one, get out of the office
3:00 – 6:00 – I do my best on the phone here, I like to put phone meetings, interviews and conference calls in this slot

So there you have it. That’s my perfect business day. So, what does yours look like, what should yours look like? Care to share?

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • I was just talking about my perfect working day to a friend last night. He was appalled that I was at yoga from 9-10:30am (during business hours)! I alternate days when I go to yoga and when I run earlier in the mornings. HE just couldn’t get it. I think he’s jealous.

    After about 4 years of entrepreneurship I realized that my idea of balance and best working times is NOT the same as the supposed experts. As long as I’m aware of my capacity and touch all the key parts of my business to make it grow, who cares if I do that at 6:00 am or if I do it at 3:00 pm!

    My better days look like this
    5:30-6:00 gratefulness time
    6:00-7:30 plan out day check email, read blogs
    7:00-8:30 workout breakfast shower dress
    8:30-10:00 strategic planning (on my biz)
    10:00-3:00 hardcore creative working time
    3:00-5:00 pushing paper, returning calls, interviews, giving classes

    Thanks for the blog post!

  • John,

    Thanks for sharing. My perfect business day is represented by a much simpler formuala?

    1) I make a client happy.
    2) A few copies of Lead With Your Heart are sold.
    3) I acquire a new client.

    Doesn’t happen often but when it does the world seems fabulous to me.

  • John Jantsch

    Jessica, I totally agree – do what you do best, when you do it best and have the good sense to know what’s best.

  • John Jantsch

    Lewis – awesome, you are so right – sometimes, most times, simple is better.

  • My perfect business day is one where I manage to mark off several items from my To Do list.

    I work at my office from around 08:30 until 17:00 (then I will often do a couple of hours in the evening from home as well). I’m often out visiting clients during the day.

    My productivity levels while I’m at the office vary, but on the best days it’s the feeling of accomplishment by getting points marked off the list that gives me feeback that I’m making progress and which makes me feel great.

  • John Jantsch

    Hey Steve – I use the to do list as well, but some days I get the feeling that it drags me down because it hangs so much guilt on me for the things I don’t get checked off.

    But yes, it’s a nice feeling some days to look at that list and conclude you got all your work done today – go home!

  • For me, a winning work day consists of two things:

    1. Add value somewhere to someone.
    2. Play golf (well, it’s work for me).

  • I would like to know more about your 8 buckets and how you step into each one in 4 hours.

    I have a lot of buckets I have to step into but feel that I do better when I step into one or two a day. But I would love to step into them all everyday.

  • My perfect business day:
    5:00-7:00-head clearing, day planning, emails
    7:00-8:30-exercise-gonna try a do a half marathon this year so. . .
    9:00-12:00-Talking to customers, walking in the vineyard or tasting/blending wine
    12:00-5:00-making sales calls to local restaurants
    5:00-7:00 cooking dinner for the wife

    Anytime I can connect with a person and tell them about our wine, I’m a happy camper!

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  • 5:30a – Up and work-out for an hour
    6:30 – Shower & get ready
    7:00 – Help wife get the kids ready and out the door
    7:30 – Plan days activities
    7:45 – Emails & voicemails
    8:00 – 10:30 – Begin knocking out today’s priorities (marketing, visioning, writing, paperwork, sales follow ups, etc…)
    10:30-12 – work w/ clients
    1:30 – 4 – work with clients
    4 – 5 – finish today’s priorities
    5 – 6 – end of day emails, wrap up and plan tomorrow priorities (and don’t touch email or phone for rest of night unless it’s a true emergency)

  • We write and sell software, and through the years I have come to the realization that you can not make people realize that they need your product; they have to realize that for themselves.

    In the early days I used to think of, and try ways to help them realize, but that was futile.

    It is also unrealistic to expect that you don’t have compeditors, some of whom will be ethical compeditors, some of whom won’t.

    So my perfect business day is where somebody contacts me to purchase my product after realizing for themselves that they made a mistake purchasing a competing product.

    Conversely, the worst day is one where the oposite occurs.


  • Is there something in the water? I was just talking about this with my husband and colleagues the other day too!

    7:00 AM Drive the kids to school
    8 – 9:00 Exercise
    Scenario A: 9 – 12:00 When I’m at home, I like to process online orders, write content for myself and clients, create new products and websites, develop workshops and marketing, and create and distribute ezines.
    Scenario B: 8 – 12:00 When I’m on location at a client’s place for training, speaking, writing, coaching or consulting – it’s show time!
    12:00 Lunch and hang out with my husband
    2:45 Pick my kids up from school
    3:00 – 5:00 calls until dinner and evening events.
    Pot to my blog in the evening as time permits.

  • Wake up smiling, still happy to be an entrepreneur at 7:00 am.
    A good cup of coffee and light breakfast at 7:15 am. Morning excercise – finding clothes for my 3 children, running around the house – at 7:30 am.
    Praise (phone call)from my client for a job well done at 8:00 am.
    Work with clients, help reinvent their businesses 8:15 am – 12:00 pm.
    Lunch with a client at 12:30.
    Brainstorming, writing, researching, reading blogs, including Duct Tape Marketing blog 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm.
    Making dinner, being a maid, mother and a wife 6:15pm – 0:00.

  • Hmmm… a perfect business day is one where I can have at least three uninterrupted hours to concentrate. If I can have that, and my full energy simultaneously, I have nearly everything I need to make a perfect business day happen.

    Getting a new client project I’m excited about, and having time (and energy) left to spend with the kids and hubby would complete the picture.

  • John,

    Today is the perfect day.

    And, if at the end of today, it isn’t…

    Then tomorrow will be.

    Hope all is well,

    Brian Moran

  • I love the discussion. I have continued it on my blog asking the question; is the measurement of a perfect day different for entrepreneurs vs. corporate employees.

    But to answer your question – I have learned that I’m a flitter and so I have my day broken into smaller chunks with different parts of my home office set aside for different tasks; blogging, customer writing, phone calls, research and reading, etc.

    My day starts at 5:45am getting the kids up and out and goes until 11pm. I try to be most productive during my most creative times of the day. Typically my most productive times are from 10am-3pm and then again from 8pm-11pm.

    Bottom line – if I can check off the items on my list, spend quality time with my kids and feel like I made a difference in someone’s life – it is a great day.


  • My perfect business day allows me time to connect with someone new and to reconnect with a business acquaintance. It’s easy to become isolated when you are running your own business. Connecting with others keeps me refreshed and energized. Plus, you never know where or from who you’ll discover a great idea.

    In addition to business connections, my perfect day provides balance with time to stay connected with my family, friends and my home. I love being at home with my husband, enjoying a quiet dinner and maybe a movie too.

  • Wow – am I the only one who doesn’t get up at 6am or earlier? What time do you guys go to bed and how much sleep do you get?! Am I the only entrepreneurial night-owl?

    For me the perfect day has three core components:

    A morning planning session where I get my head round short-medium term tasks. I like to do this from 9.00-9.30am

    Core work-time – either working with clients, doing business development to get new clients, or writing. My slots for this are 10.00am – 12.00am and 1.00pm to 3.00pm – although they wil be extended if I’m on a roll.

    A quick 15 minute end of day review where I make sure I’ve covered all my key tasks and do some initial thinking about next actions for tomorrow.

    The other key element is a weekly planning session where I try to link my short-medium term tasks with longer term goals and projects. I do that on Monday mornings and extend the planning session to an hour or so.

    By the way, for my the absolute best resource for organising your thinking and planning for a day is David Seah’s from his . It works really well for me alongside the GTD methodology.


  • Man, this XHTML is beyond me.

    That should say:

    By the way, for my the absolute best resource for organising your thinking and planning for a day is David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner from his Printable CEO Series. It works really well for me alongside the GTD methodology.


  • 5:30!! You all working far too hard. Have you forgotten the Law of Least Effort? Do nothing and accomplish everything. Are you sure you are not taking it all a bit too seriously, life is meant to be enjoyed! It’s called the present because it is a gift.

  • Dear sir,
    I am brazilian, my mother language is portuguese, my second, english, i have a site about marketing in english, and would like to have your opinion as you are a specialist. all your readers are also wellcome. the url is:
    Thanks in advance
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  • The perfect work day for me consists of making sure I accomplish at least one thing that moves me closer to my highest priority goals. I’ve put all my goals into 4 areas, personal development, business/finance, physical, and ‘wish list’, and I focus all my attention and energy on just those 4. So when I plan my day, I try to schedule at least 1 activity to help me reach these 4 goals.

    The schedule for an ideal day would look like this:

    5:00am – wake up, spiritual reflection
    5:30am – workout
    6:45am – waking kids up and getting everyone ready for the day
    8:00am – write for 1hr
    9:00am – review and plan day’s schedule, objectives, and action items
    9:15am – check email, respond to urgent ones, file rest for later action
    9:30am – creative work such as client campaigns, creating new marketing campaigns, reviewing current projects, implementing new campaigns, etc.
    12:30pm – lunch, hopefully with a colleague, friend, or client
    2:00pm – meet with clients, follow-up with prospects, business development activities
    5:00pm – check email, respond and take action when needed
    5:45pm – review days accomplishments and plan next day’s agenda

    Now, it doesn’t always go this way, but when it does it’s amazing how much I’m able to accomplish. Plus, short breaks throughout the working periods (5min every 25min) really help maintain my focus and energy.

  • I might have a very different outlook on the ideal day after I finish reading Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-Hour Workweek” (strongly recommended!), but this would be the picture of an ideal day as I would envision it now:

    7-8:15am walk at local track…great for clearing your mind, thinking of new ideas, and appreciating life

    8:30-10:30am writing time, blog and book (no email!)

    10:30am onward – Client calls, more writing, and networking. (I’ve been spending too much time scheduling, emailing, planning, and doing operational/admin tasks).

    EXERCISE and run errands when I peter out, lose focus, or get antsy (this happens at a different time each day)

    7pm – dinner and quality-time with the very supportive significant other.

    9-10:30pm – reading a business/leadership/personal development book, To-do list for tomorrow, journal entry to reflect on the day.

    The ideal day would be one where I’m productive, focused, and happy!

  • To me, everyday is a perfect day to do business so long as there isn’t any hiccup along the way to carry us away. Everyday is a brand-new day to start living and to do business. So, everyday is a good day and a perfect day.

    Silvery Leo

  • Wow, a perfect day begins at 5am? Personally, I’m not aware of the existence of that hour of the day. But that’s one of the blessings and curses of working for oneself.

    It’s great in the sense that I don’t have to get up at a certain specific time – but it also means my day is less “organized”.

    I just need to find a way of being more organized, which doesn’t involve the hour of 5am.

    Paul Hancox | Converting Visitors Into Customers

  • My perfect business day:
    I wake up and go to bed thankful that I am living out my purpose of partnering with others to creatively renew, discover, and develop their unique gifts and abilities.

    My coaching clients, readers, and retreat and presentation participants experience and report more PEP in their work (Performance/Effectiveness/Profitability)
    and life (Peace/Energy/Prosperity).

    My third “bucket” that I am developing is Power, Education, and Peace, particularly Living from Power and Peace.

    I live out my values of service and making an impact for the greater good. I model taking time for renewal.
    I keep my vision board and written goals in front of me.

    In addition to coaching and writing, I lead quarterly Renewing Your Vision and Spirit retreats which empower others to lead fulfilling lives based on their vision, purpose, mission, and values.

    Thank you, John, for this opportunity. Tip: when you write your vision thoroughly (grounded in details) in the present tense, you are more likely to achieve it! Example: “I am….”

    Marilyn O’Hearne, MSW
    Master Certified Coach, International Coach Federation
    COACH, Trainer/Speaker, Writer
    Renewing Your Spirit Workbook Author & Retreat Leader

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