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Daily Routines

Andrew Wilkinson: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.

Tiny co-founder Andrew Wilkinson, nicknamed “the Warren Buffet for startups” currently oversees a group of over 20 companies, including his design agency Metalab, with 300+ employees and tens of millions in revenue. He does this all with a lifestyle that differs vastly from most startup founders.

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“By most measures, I’m a lazy bastard,” Wilkinson admits. There’s no 5am-wake-up-meditation-journal-exercise daily routine. In fact, on most days Wilkinson will wake up past noon time after getting a solid 8 hours of sleep.

I wake up around 1pm and almost always get eight hours of sleep. Most days, I head to the office in the early afternoon and work around 5-6 hours. Sometimes I put in another couple hours at night, but I take the majority of my time away from work, and I never work weekends.

You don’t have to make yourself miserable to build a great company | PAndo

Wilkinson’s routine wasn’t always like this. During the first few years of Metalab, not only was he responsible for the lead designs and developing new business, he also had to take care of the company financials, manage projects and recruit for new team members – three things he admitted he was absolutely terrible at doing. This led to a chaotic company culture and unhappy clients.

“I rarely saw my friends and spent every waking hour on the business. But then it all broke down. After two years of non-stop work, I was left with a dysfunctional relationship, a dwindling social life, and a shelf full of books I hadn’t read,” Wilkinson wrote. “So I decided to give it up. For my own sanity, I decided to limit my workday, leave work at the office, and take evenings and weekend off, even if it meant taking a hit to my entrepreneurial success.”

In an interview with Dan Shipper and Kieran O’Hare for the Superorganizers newsletter, Wilkinson explains that his experience working with founders gave him a glimpse into a life he didn’t want to pursue.

“What did I see? Most of them were miserable. They weren’t optimizing for happiness. They weren’t enjoying their lives. They weren’t sleeping. Their marriages were suffering,” Wilkinson said. “What I do instead is try to structure my life around how to make myself happy, and how to make my family happy.”

Photo credit: Bench.co

Nowadays, Andrew only spends his time on tasks that meet two criteria: he’s good at doing them and nobody else can do them. A few examples of these tasks would be: reinforcing company culture, creating processes and tracking results. With everything else, Andrew built a company machine, installing talented people into key roles and letting them take the reins of the important decisions, while he maintains a 30,000 feet view. He dubs it “lazy leadership.”

Lazy Leadership isn’t really about being lazy. It’s about spending time on what matters and what you’re good at, then leaving everything else to your team.

LAZY LEADERSHIP | THE FLOW BLOG – MEDIUM

In learning to delegate the day to day tasks and focusing on the company’s big picture, Andrew was working smarter, not harder. By deliberately constraining his work days into 5-6 hours, Andrew forced himself to focus on the important things, and delegate the rest of the work to his trusted team.

In his conversation with Superorganizers, Wilkinson broke down his role at Tiny:

In my job at Tiny, I’m really just a router to get opportunities to the right place. That means people come in to my life through email, and it’s my job to figure out where they fit (or if they fit.) It’s all about the power of connecting people.

My role in the business at this point is to continue to meet people and represent our brand in public, on Twitter, and through my writing. That means opportunities come in, and we have a whole machine to process them.”

During a podcast interview with Dorm Room Tycoon, Wilkinson talked more about the benefits of limited time on his working style, “the constraint of knowing I was only going to work five or six hours that day forced me not to do a lot of extraneous crap and it also forced me to delegate.”

“I got a lot more done because I was leveraging all the people that I had working with me and I was calmer and a lot more productive.”

Similar to the calm work-life culture at Basecamp; Andrew has built a profitable group of companies with revenues into the millions, all while maintaining a strong work-life balance, not only for himself, but for his team too: “It’s not like I just delegated all my work to a miserable army of 9 to 9 office jockeys — everyone at MetaLab works when and how they want, and many keep a similar schedule to my own.”

Take a breath, read a book, sleep in, and put your phone on silent. You might be surprised by what happens.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO MAKE YOURSELF MISERABLE TO BUILD A GREAT COMPANY | PANDO

Before you go…

Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.

About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.