Pro Baseball Player Turned Entrepreneur, Xan Barksdale Talks Productive Mornings

Here is a list of seven tips that are guaranteed to make you more productive in the mornings.

If you’re reading this you’re more than likely an entrepreneur, or you aspire to be one. That means you have probably heard countless people say “to be successful you need to put in late nights and early mornings.” And honestly, it’s true.

Most people who are wildly successful put in crazy hours … especially in the beginning when they are starting a business. I know that when I started my first online business I had to work insane hours just to get it off the ground.

Was it hard? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell yes!


Who Else Wants More Productive Mornings?

Photo: Entrepreneur Xan Barksdale; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Entrepreneur Xan Barksdale; Source: Courtesy Photo

Unless you are superhuman and only require three hours of sleep each night it can be difficult to balance late nights and early mornings. It’s easier if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, but passion alone isn’t enough — it doesn’t make up for sleepless nights.

There are certain things I started doing that immediately increased my productivity. Here’s the deal though. None of them are difficult! In fact, they’re all quite easy. The key is getting into a routine of actually doing them.

So, here is a list of seven tips that are guaranteed to make you more productive in the mornings.


  1. Make a checklist the night before.

    I could take credit for creating this one, but I can’t. I can’t even remember where I heard it first because I’ve heard so many different people say it. There is something satisfying about making a checklist and crossing things off once you’re done with them. Every time you mark through one task you wanted to accomplish for the day it’s a little victory and it feels good to cross it off. So, what does that make you do? It makes you work a little harder to cross more things off! It may sound silly, but making a checklist is a huge productivity booster.

  2. Prepare meals ahead of time.

    Of all the things on your list, this will change your life more than anything else. Preparing your meals the night before accomplishes a couple of positive things. First, it’s one less thing that you have to do in the morning (eliminating at least 20-30 minutes), which gives you time to focus on more important things. And the most important thing is this: it gets you in the habit of eating healthy. When you prepare meals in advance you have healthy food to eat all day (which gives you more energy) and keeps you away from fast food and convenience stores. There’s a saying in the sports world that goes “If your food can go bad it’s good for you. If it stays good for a long time it’s bad for you.”

  3. Get plenty of sleep.

    “Plenty of sleep” is different for everyone, and you probably know by now how much you need to wake up rested and ready to focus on your small business. For me, it’s about 7-8 hours. If I get any less than that I’m tired the next day, and if I get much more I feel lethargic. It’s hard to attack the day when you only get 3-4 hours of sleep the night before so give yourself plenty of rest. Your body (and your business) will love you for it.

  4. Eat a healthy breakfast.

    In line with tip #2, when you’re preparing meals in advance – don’t skip breakfast. You’ve likely heard that “the most important meal of the day is breakfast.” It’s not an old wives tale, there’s actually a lot of truth to it. First, it’s important to eat a healthy breakfast to fuel your body for the day. And by the way, all breakfast foods aren’t created equal! Say “No” to Pop Tarts and sugar-filled cereal and say “Yes” to fruit, oatmeal, eggs, or a smoothie. Secondly, a healthy breakfast kick starts your metabolism for the rest of the day. Most entrepreneurs spend a lot of time sitting at their desks; not getting the amount of exercise they need. So, kick your metabolism in the ass by eating a good breakfast.

  5. Schedule time to check email.

    Email and email marketing are important to every business, but that’s not what I’m talking about. If you need to log into your Aweber account and write a broadcast message or tell prospects about something important then you should definitely do it. What I’m suggesting you don’t do is log into your personal email account and waste 30 minutes watching the most recent viral video on YouTube that Aunt Judy sent you. Stay away from your personal email until a designated time each day.

  6. Don’t log in to your social media accounts.

    Hey, you know I’m a big fan of social media! But, that doesn’t mean I log into my accounts first thing in the morning! Take care of important tasks first and then update your status or let your fans and followers know about your most recent blog post or what you’re working on and then sign out. When you sign out it makes it more difficult to see what’s going on by switching tabs or opening a new window. Click the “sign out” button to reduce temptation.

  7. Create habits or rituals.

    Each of the tips I’ve shared aren’t extremely difficult to follow, but the key is getting into the habit of doing them daily. Once you do, you’ll find yourself more productive in the morning and accomplishing more before most people even wake up! So tonight, before you go to bed, go ahead and make a checklist of what you want to accomplish tomorrow, prepare your meals, and get plenty of rest. I guarantee that you’ll have a more productive morning!


Xan Barksdale is a former professional athlete turned entrepreneur. Xan has started dozens of niche websites, primarily around his passion for baseball. He has experience producing and launching his own DVDs, software, iPhone apps, books, and physical products. Connect with @xanbarksdale on Twitter.


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