Starting / Setting business goals

Ten honest daily habits of a mildly successful person

Apparently, morning people are successful people and those who stick to a daily habits and rituals are likely to have a booming business. But the truth is most of us just get through the day as best we can.

13 August 2015 by

Ah, successful people. Don’t you just hate them? With their thriving businesses, their private jets and their boundless productivity.

And the advice! The un-achievable, guilt-inducing advice that’s pumped out across the interwebs. Of course, we all desperately suck it up in the hope that we, mere mortals, can match their level of success.

Yes, I’ve read a fair few “89 things successful people do before breakfast” or “7 secrets from smug, successful, know-it-alls” type posts. But being a mildly successful person myself (hey, I’m no Richard Branson, but I’m doing okay), I thought I’d share some of my own top daily habits.

If you’ve ever said to yourself, “If only I meditated on my private island everyday I could get more email opt-ins”, this post is for you.

Tip 1: Get up an hour later

Conventional advice tells us that early risers are the gods of the business world. But I’ve tried it and it sucks. Give me an hour-longer lie-in any day. As a parent, I’d take 60 minutes of extra zzzs over pretty much anything.

Sleep makes me happy, and a happy me gets more done than tired, irritable me.

Tip 2: Eat food

Eating food is good. It boosts your productivity and memory, and stops your tummy rumbling during Skype calls. A hearty breakfast is a great way to start the day, followed by a healthy lunch and a wholesome supper. (And crisps. Lots of crisps.*)

"Eating food is good. It boosts your productivity and memory, and stops your tummy rumbling during Skype calls."

Tip 3: Drink fluids

Drink water and coffee regularly throughout the day to stay alive and alert. Often pains of hunger and feelings of total business desperation are just the early signs of dehydration. A hydrated brain is a clever brain.

Tip 4: Make a ‘to do’ list

While there are plenty of ‘to do’ apps out there, for me nothing beats pen and paper. I suggest including a few easy wins at the top of your list (“Go to toilet”, “Turn on computer”, “Find pen”, etc.) so you can quickly tick them off and feel like you’re winning.

Tip 5: Eat a frog

Mark Twain apparently said:

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” 

While I’m sure amphibians offer an excellent source of protein, I’m guessing this is one of those metaphor thingies. So I recommend starting each day by doing the most hideous task first. Get it out of the way and you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Tip 6: Exercise

I walk my dog each day (to the coffee shop and back). I also work to loud music, and have perfected a rather good dance that I can do while remaining in my swivelly chair. It’s not pretty, but it keeps my bum cheeks pert – vital to a successful businessperson in my book.

Tip 7: Don’t answer the phone

Answering the phone means having to talk to other humans, and some other humans talk too much. By not answering the phone you can avoid this and get on with your work. I set aside an hour a day to ring people, return messages and deal with phone stuff. After that, I switch it to silent.

Tip 8: Prioritise

Although your ‘to do’ list may change your priorities, it shouldn’t. My priority list goes something like this:

  1. Existing client work
  2. New client luring
  3. Financial admin – getting paid
  4. Marketing, self promotion and blog writing
  5. Faffing about on social media

It’s a simple and effective way of making sure I focus on my customers and don’t get sucked into random videos about cats on Facebook. (Well, most of the time.)

Tip 9: Smile

I once read somewhere that when you smile it tricks your brain into thinking you’re happy, even when you’re not. So, if you were to walk past my office window you’ll often find me grinning inanely at the screen. Smiling while you’re on the phone also makes you sound much nicer than you possibly are.

Tip 10: Have a mantra

Yep, mantras do work.

You can go with something deep: “The sea otter never asks why the water is wet”.

Something inspiring: “Bright stars shine brighter when they love themselves.”

Or something practical: “Don’t eat the yellow snow.”

My favourite mantra is ‘”Stop whinging and get on with it.” It works every time.

Do you already follow some of these daily habits? What are your top tips to boost your succesfulness? Please share in the comments below.

* Crisps – chips to Australian and American readers.

Kate Toon

is a copywriter, SEO lover and Hula Hooper based in Sydney. She’s the author of Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur | How to succeed in business despite yourself - available for pre-order now. Connect with her on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


  • Paragon

    I love this. Well said.

  • gotta go find a frog

  • My favourite bit “Often pains of hunger and feelings of total business desperation are just the early signs of dehydration.” YES!

    • Alternatively they could be signs of business desperation, but at least you’ll be hydrated as you deal with them.

  • Great tips, thanks Kate!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Sophie.

  • This is the best “500 tips to be awesome” post I have ever read. Loved it so much I joined up just so I could reply! 🙂

    • Ah Penny thank you. This comment may have secured my future at Flying Solo for a few more months.

  • Great Post!


    Great !!

  • Just shared this on my business fb page. Best article I’ve read in ages. Sometimes you can feel SO inadequate (especially reading all that garbage put out – hah), but it’s good to know my daily habits are not too far off those of a mildly successful person ;-).

    • @flyingsolo-d2d786a5b4b9b51d5a0114ac7fca32ab:disqus thank you hugely – just tagging @petercrocker – so he can see the “BEST ARTICLE IVE READ IN AGES’ bit.

      • FS Administrator

        Thanks @katetooncopywriter:disqus I did miss that!! I wrote an article ages ago so maybe that was the better one that Angela was referring too!! 😉 I’m an absolute sucker for writing a to-do list including stuff like ‘write a new to-do list’, put out bins and stuff like that. It can seriously help build some momentum. Love your work as always Toon!

  • Jennifer Morton

    It sounds so basic and easy to do, so why do I fail at so many of your tips? Except the sleeping part – I’m all over that one! And I’m going with the otter mantra. It’s going on my wall right now. Cheers Kate, what you wrote up there was Awesome (capital A).

    • @disqus_9NWVPr7vBh:disqus Let’s turn that frown upside down. You didn’t fail at 9. You SUCCEEDED at one!
      Ah I’m so motivational 🙂

  • Isabel Robinson

    This is funny. And realistic. I thought I was the only one that wrote down easy things on my To Do list, just so I can tick them off and feel like I’m winning. ‘Have shower’. ‘Eat lunch.’ Thanks for making us moderately successful people feel less guilty about not following the advice of overwhelmingly successful people…if it’s 5am and we haven’t already gone for a 10km run and sealed a multi-million dollar business deal, maybe that’s OK? 🙂

    • @isabelrobinson:disqus – the best thing to add to your to do list is – ‘write to do list’ – it’s an immediate tick! I think Mr Branson has also baked his own bread and written 10 motivational memes by 5am 🙂

  • Kate – Fabulous tips, thanks. I’d agree with all except the ‘get up an hour later one’. I am an early riser and at my most productive then and sometimes get 2 hours of work done before anyone else stirs. Means I can knock off earlier and enjoy some fresh air in the garden. I think the main point of this one is ‘find your own groove’ when you are the most productive and make it work for you.

    • @disqus_Qwme8VqkFT:disqus I know I know. So many people find that getting up early is the go for them. But ooh I love my comfy pillows. I wish I were lying on them right now. Yes Find your own groove – a great mantra to add to the list.

  • joyfulsarah

    This is brilliant, Kate – I have to say I’m 100% on board with #1!

    • Yep @flyingsolo-9d2c5653656b9e11a085204d6cc113c5:disqus – early rising is so last decade.

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