Tory Johnson: Secrets of High-Achieving Entrepreneurs

Ever have those days when you wake up determined to tackle specific challenges? You have the best intentions about all you’re going to accomplish and you can feel the sense of elation that you’re sure you’ll experience.

Then the phone rings, the dog barks, someone needs you to drop everything to help with the unexpected. Suddenly it’s 6 p.m. and the workday has slipped by while your to-do list has grown even longer.

Time to kiss those days goodbye. They’re so 2011.

If this is going to be your year, you can—and must—get plenty accomplished by making small adjustments to your routine. I asked three of my favorite business owners—all self-described workaholics—to weigh in on what they do to get it all done. None of them wake up waiting to see what the day will bring. They do what I do: spend just 10 to 15 minutes each night plotting the one or two things that must happen the next day. It sets the tone for generating results.

Exercise and sleep. Sounds simple, but most business owners ignore it. Not Sue Zimmerman, owner of the Cape Cod boutique, who schedules exercise daily (“love those endorphins”) and gets seven to eight hours of sleep nightly. “I fuel my body with healthy foods so I have the energy to go all day and sometimes into the night.”

Block time. “Multitasking can really wear you out so I create a schedule that forces me to do only one thing at once,” says Cardy Cubby founder Wendy Krepak. “Mornings are for processing orders. Afternoons are for reacting to customer inquiries. Evenings are for accounting and long-term projects that aren’t time sensitive. I even schedule time to answer emails, so I’m not constantly checking them all day.”

Buckle down. “When I have a ton on my to-do list and limited time to get it all done, I institute a popular football strategy called the ‘no huddle offense,’” says Jennifer Lee, an Orlando-based business coach. “Football teams use this when they want to quickly implement several plays in the shortest period of time and keep the defense on its heels.” Lee puts all of her tasks into one pile and barrels through each one as quickly as possible, “trying not to look at what I have left or pat myself on the back for what I’ve accomplished.” This keeps her focused and moving forward.

Plug in. “Having an iPad allows me to do social media, emails and research while having a change of scenery,” says Krepak. “Breaking away from my desk refreshes me while keeping me productive.”

Trust yourself. Too much time is wasted and opportunity is lost because of self-doubt. “I have confidence in my intuition and I don’t and can’t overthink every decision,” says Krepak. She argues that it would be difficult to be successful if she became paralyzed by decision-making since it’s essential to keep things moving.

Try the triage method: deal with each piece of paper, email and decision just once. Respond, destroy, delegate, file, decide—and then move on. Even if you make a mistake, it’s likely something that can be undone or corrected if needed.

Go with your gut—it won’t fail you.


Enjoy this inspiration from Tory Johnson? Then join us for the SUCCESS Start Small Win Big Entrepreneurial Challenge Jan. 17-April 5, 2012. Read our “Step-By-Step Guide to Amping Up Your Business” for an overview and register at


Tory Johnson is CEO and founder of Spark & Hustle, a weekly contributor on ABC's Good Morning America and a contributing editor of SUCCESS magazine.

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