Ever wondered what people do at work? If you’re a voyeur like us, then you’ll love our series A Day in the Life where we get a real behind-the-scenes glimpse into the professional lives of CEOs, business owners, and entrepreneurs we admire. From their morning routine to the rituals that set them up for success and questions such as “do you ever reach inbox zero?” because we all want to know how to streamline our lives.
“Most of my daily activities are intentional, which makes me feel in control (like a real boss).”
Photo: Courtesy of Kamari Chelsea
Confession: Sometimes I scroll through my own Instagram page (when I’m fighting late-night insomnia) and I reflect on old memories and how far I’ve come. When I scroll back to May 2016, I’m surprisingly nostalgic for the then 30-year-old me, staring away from the camera with bright-eyed expectation perched on a violet velvet couch inside the Mondrian Hotel lobby, Los Angeles.
The real context of that moment was even more alluring. In only a few minutes, I would be whisked away in an Uber to attend my first-ever Create & Cultivate conference. I envisioned myself rubbing shoulders with badass founders like Jaclyn Johnson and hearing megastars like Jessica Alba and Rachel Zoe share the secrets to building a wildly profitable yet chic business.
Needless to say, I was not disappointed by my experience (the VIP gift bag full of beauty products was a cherry on top of a surreal day). In fact, I attended the next two subsequent conferences in Atlanta and New York, soaking up all the business advice I could possibly get. It was a millennial pink whirlwind of networking, knowledge, and endless perks. By the end of a year, I was on a complete high.
As all highs do, though, mine slowly dissipated when I found myself sitting back at a desk job in late 2017, depressed because I had no idea how to create my own entrepreneurial lifestyle. I also had no perception of what that lifestyle actually looked like. Between the Insta-glam moments and breath-of-fresh-air conferences, I thought to myself, What does it actually take?
To answer the questions I once had—and to give an insider’s POV for those reading this who are also asking similar questions—I’m going to break down what my day-to-day life looks like now, three years into my journey. Since then, I’ve signed three major communications consulting clients, took a leadership role at a non-profit, and got married!
While this may feel far off for you, take a glimpse at what it takes, and you may realize in only a few steps, you’ll be on your way, too.
7:00 AM: Wake at Your Own Pace!
Listen, most business owners rave about waking up between 4:00 AM and 5:00 AM to take on the day. So, I’ll be brutally honest: No freaking way!
Unless I have a flight to Los Angeles or a train to New York (in which case, consider this quick tip: always travel early AF in the morning, so you can have a full day in the city you’re arriving in), I try to stay in bed with my husband until at least 7:00 AM. That means more time to playfully nudge each other and whine about who is taking up more space or comforters. There’s true value in being someone who gets eight hours of sleep a night; the benefits show up in everything from your skin to your attitude. I’ve learned to listen to my body and not what other people do, and it’s worked out gloriously for me.
So by 7:00 AM, I get up and give myself two full hours of peace. I try to leave the house within 25 minutes of waking up to go for a nice long walk in a local park. The fresh air, music (I play Jhéne Aiko on my headphones because she’s so pleasant in the morning), and the time spent moving slowly and intentionally is a luxury I won’t take for granted. It also allows my body to fully wake up on its own.
Ok, well, coffee also helps, so I religiously dash into the Starbucks by the park before heading home to shower and prep for the day. Basic, I know. So sorry.
9:30 AM: Finances, First!
Now it’s time to get down to business. I start with the most important thing: my finances. I recently hosted Kristin Lee, a celebrity financial planner, on my podcast and she emphasized the importance of checking your accounts and actually looking at your money. Literally everyone, with every size bank account, from Kylie Jenner to a 21-year-old intern, should be checking their accounts regularly.
I do just that. I review my personal and business bank accounts one-by-one, every day. This even includes my savings and stocks. Mainly, I do this to ensure there are no major surprises (the more you invest, though, the more you’re inclined to sometimes see good surprises like dividends).
Then, I review my business books. I start by opening up my accounting software, to ensure I don’t have any outstanding invoices or invoices that need to be sent to existing clients. Then, I check the ratio between my business expenses and my business income. This will help me keep a pulse on whether I should cut costs, pursue more client work, or set aside more money for quarterly taxes.
For some people, books can be boring; trust me, I used to be “some people.” Today, I’ve learned that a little pump-you-up music (Megan Thee Stallion, anyone?) plus some financial moments to look forward to (again: dividends!) can actually make this part of the day fun.
10:30 AM: Emails; I Make My Own Rules!
Once the money is squared away, I dive head-first into emails for legitimately two-and-a-half whopping hours. Since I work in PR and media, a lot of my time is spent pitching. I pitch partnerships; I pitch stories; I pitch for new business; I pitch potential podcast guests… I’m a pitching machine.
To be clear, “pitching” is a fancy way of saying “selling.” Any entrepreneur will tell you that selling is essentially the key to a successful business. You always need to be on your toes, making a sale and connecting people to what they need.
Inbox zero is not a goal (remember, I try not to do things just because other people do it). Instead, I pride myself in making sure I have at least five opportunities (pitches) going out every day, and five opportunities coming in. In my book, an opportunity can be anything from someone wanting to have a coffee date to an offer to be a guest on a new podcast.
Setting an email rule that makes sense for me and my goals is one of the best things I’ve done in my business.
“Inbox zero is not a goal.”
1:00 PM—6:00 PM: Meetings, Meetings, More Meetings, and Surprise Meetings!
By 1:00 PM ET, I’m geared up and ready to relinquish my day to the whims of others. The minutes leading up to 1:00 pm are usually like the nerve-racking few seconds one feels when they’re riding a rollercoaster and it’s creeping up toward the edge of the tracks, begging to careen over into topsy-turvy mayhem.
Ok, maybe that’s dramatic, but I usually need to take 10 minutes to exhale (or inhale a salad) before the day of meetings begins. Most of my clients are on the West Coast, while I’m in the East, so having my mornings to myself is a God-send. However, this is the moment when everyone is wide awake, caffeinated, and working, which means… I am up to my ears in meetings, calls, and surprise issues.
6:00 PM: Networking: Required for Entrepreneurs!
By “quitting time” on the East Coast, I’m technically still knee-deep in meetings. However, by this time, I’m rolling into a different type of meeting.
I exclusively block off evenings in my calendar for networking meetings. The only way to grow a business and keep new opportunities in your inbox is to nurture your network. That’s why I try to take at least four nights a week to meet up with someone in my professional circle.
These meetings can include anyone from media to mentors and mentees, to cold-invites I send to people I really want to get to know. Actively networking (which is really just fancy language for “making new friends”) has become one of the most foundational building blocks of my business.
If you’re just starting out, begin by setting aside four hours a week to meet new people in your industry. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have an excuse to go out for a drink or appetizers in new spots around your city.
“The only way to grow a business and keep new opportunities in your inbox is to nurture your network.”
8:30 PM: Dinner and Educational Leisure: A Book, Documentary, or Course
While the day is far from over, by 8:30 PM most of my clients are winding down, which means I can finally leave my phone in my bag for more than five minutes at a time. Since I try to commit one day on the weekend to being completely work-free, I maximize my evenings to do more work-adjacent activities.
The biggest myth of being an entrepreneur is that once you work for yourself, you’re completely free from anyone’s demands. But the truth is, the most successful entrepreneurs demand a lot of themselves.
For me, that means whipping up a 30-minute healthy dinner for me and my husband (vegan tacos are my specialty). And immediately after eating, I kick my feet up to crack open a new business book (right now, it’s Ted Talks by Chris Anderson), turn on a documentary (my current fave is Netflix’s The Black Godfather), or catch up on an advanced-skills course (today, I’m learning more about Facebook ad-buying).
Overall, it can sound like a gruesome day, but most of my daily activities are intentional, which makes me feel in control (like a real boss). My routine is a result of years of trial-and-error (no, I can’t wake up early to save my life; yes, I can eat healthier). It’s also centered on doing what is right for my unique business.
So, the real lesson is, once you know what industry you want to go into, get out there and network and then build your time around the goals that matter most to you. Before you know it, you’ll be building something of your own.
About the Author
Kamari Chelsea Guthrie is a multi-hyphenate media consultant, specializing in PR and content creation. Past and present clients include Coca-Cola, Parkwood Entertainment, Vote.org, DJ Spinderella, and TheKnot. She is also the host of The Truth Report podcast. Find her on Instagram @kamarichelsea.