Life Hacks

Productivity Hacks - Spend Less Time Working & More Time Living

Shelby Smeltzer
January 16, 2024

Most people decide to leave their 9 to 5 and be entrepreneurs because they want freedom and flexibility. However, very often entrepreneurs end up working MORE than 8 hours a day.

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, but also want more free time, it means making your ‘work’ hours as productive as possible. Productivity and success has a lot to do with creating disciplined routines and daily habits to keep you on track and high-functioning every day. Here are my six best tips for how I increase my daily productivity so I can spend less time working and more time living.


Get done up and dressed up in the morning - even if you work from home

If you work from home, I know you’re thinking - “This is why I didn’t want to work in an office anymore!” Well, let me tell you about my thoughts. I spent almost a full year working in sweatpants and yoga pants and that year was pretty miserable. When you schlep around in your comfy clothes all day, it’s really easy to stay ‘comfortable’ in other parts of your work life too. If you have an awesome idea for a content video, then realize you didn’t do your makeup or hair today - you’re probably not going to post that video. What a shame!

When you look good - you feel good - when you feel good - you do good.

Feed your body something good in the morning - and keep it the same every day

Eating the same thing for breakfast every day? BORING! Hear me out.

The wonderful thing about having the same thing for breakfast every day is when it becomes part of your routine - you don’t need to think anymore. Taking one less decision out of your day is amazing when you are the CEO of your business and your entire day is FILLED with decisions. Our brains can only handle so much of that before overwhelm sets in.

Try out a couple of different breakfasts, find out which one gives you lasting energy throughout the morning and clear thinking patterns. Now I’m not a nutrition specialist - I can only tell you what works for me. I have a muscular build so it’s important for me to consume protein in the morning and I would assume most people could use the same.

My daily breakfast is two whole grain toasts with peanut butter and sliced banana. Water and coffee. Simple - easy - lots of protein.

I would say anything with an egg would be a great option too. Whatever you discover that works best for you - stick with it and when you have that one less decision to make in the morning, your brain power can be spent tackling the things that matter.

Be conscious of the information you are consuming first thing in the morning

My habit used to be to come downstairs, make my breakfast and turn on the news while I ate it. After reading about Tim Ferris’s negative view of the news, I started to question this decision. The news is filled with messages of violence and hatred, and fear. Are feeling these feelings a good way to start my day? NO! So I made a new choice.

I still wanted to watch something while I ate my breakfast, so I chose to watch videos on YouTube. At first, it was random videos like tiny house tours or painting videos.

Eventually, YouTube got to know me and my viewing habits and started suggesting self-help gurus like Tony Robbins, entrepreneurs like Tim Ferris, Simon Sinek, and Marie Forleo.

Now, I start my mornings with positivity, inspiration, and motivation from other creatives and entrepreneurs that are killing it! Now that’s a much better way to start my day. I often get so excited and bubbling with ideas I can’t help but jump on my computer and get to work!

Do at least five minutes of stretch and/or meditation in the morning

I sleep on my arm so I usually wake up with tight neck/shoulders/upper back. It is so important for me to do at least a few stretches before I hunker down at my computer for the next 3-4 hours.

Meditation can be super powerful as well. Not sure about you, but my brain often feels like it’s in fast forward. If I’m not careful, I can rush through life, rush through my day, stuck in my head, not seeing the things or people around me. For me, just taking five minutes to sit in silence, helps cut through that brain buzz and go about my day with a clear mind. At the end of my meditation, I like to think about or write down three things I’m grateful for. (These are borrowed from Tony Robbins and Tim Ferris).

  1. Something (anything) you’re grateful for
  2. Someone in your past that helped you
  3. Something very small that you’re grateful for (the sun is out, the birds chirping)

Have your calendar or to-do list ready to go

When you can sit down and see exactly what needs to be accomplished, you don’t spend precious time in decision mode trying to determine what is worth spending your time on right now.

The less time you can spend in decision mode, and the more time in action mode, the more productive you will be.

This could be as simple as a piece of paper with ‘priorities’ written in one column and ‘secondary’ written in another. I like to accomplish the priorities in the morning so they are off my plate. I find that when I feel satisfied with what I’ve finished or created in the morning, I’m that much more motivated to keep that train rolling into the afternoon.

Get in tune with your body’s wants and needs - test, refine and repeat

How much sleep do you need? In order to get that much sleep - what time do you need to go to bed?

What time do you naturally wake up? Do you like to wake up with the sun? Or are you a night owl?

What time of day do you do your best creative thinking?

Do you feel energized after working out in the morning? Or is an afternoon or evening workout better for you?

If you can be in tune with your strengths and weaknesses, you won’t be fighting yourself all the time and your body will thank you for it.

Shelby Smeltzer
Shelby Smeltzer is a brand designer and strategist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She started her business journey at 25 designing custom wedding invitations using calligraphy and watercolor paintings for couples across the United States. After two years, she realized her true calling and passion was helping other small businesses like herself. Now, she helps her clients build their own business legacy by giving brands personality using messaging and design.


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