“I spend a lot of time traveling, so I never sleep at the same time each night. Instead, I focus on getting eight hours consistently.” – Penelope Trunk Share this quote on Twitter

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Penelope Trunk

What is your morning routine?

My alarm goes off at 6:00am. I tell myself that I am going to wake up and start writing before my kids wake up. But really, I never write at the same time every day. If I did, then surely I’d have more regular posts on my blog. Which I have never been able to do, despite wanting and promising myself and my editor that I will. Instead, I spend thirty minutes thinking about my to-do list and making a plan for the day.

While the kids do chores around the house I send emails. Anything that I need to get done today must get done now. In this half-hour.

Right now I have a list of emails I have to write. One to a venture capitalist looking at my next business to maybe fund it. One to my prospective business partner to tell her I don’t want to be partners. One to my friend Melissa, to tell her I think I will die trying to do a new business and maintain the life I have now.

I cook breakfast while I do emails. I burn stuff. Every time.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

It changes all the time. I homeschool my kids and run a startup, so our schedule is always changing.

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

I’ve had to really adjust my work-life in order to accommodate homeschooling.

Just a few years ago I was delivering dozens of speeches each year for $15,000 a pop. I traveled two weeks out of every month. For most of my career I was running a startup. I ran three. They were all absolutely exhausting and I love that this guy calls it entrepreneurshit. He’s right. Running a startup is so difficult that when I was reading his post about how difficult it is, I had to stop in the middle. I think I might have post-traumatic stress syndrome from being a startup founder.

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The key for me was being able to dream up career ideas for myself that work well with homeschooling the kids. At first it was a disaster. My career tanked and I started losing my mind. But then I started rethinking career options.

For example, people have always asked me to coach them, and for years, I have said I don’t do that. But then I realized that coaching people via phone works really well for the lifestyle I have with the kids. So now I do tons of coaching and it’s worked well for me because it also allows me to talk with smart, interesting people all the time.

What time do you go to sleep?

I spend a lot of time traveling, so I never get to sleep at the same time each night. Instead, I focus on getting eight hours consistently.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

The Farmer (Ed: Penelope’s husband) gets up every morning, at 6:00am, eats breakfast with us, and then feeds the pigs.

We have the kind of eggs that sell for $2.00 each in Chicago. Deep yellow yolk from chickens who spend their days in heaven, pecking the grass and going wherever they want and eating whatever they want. The boys don’t like eggs. I have tried to force feed them in many different ways, including earning Nintendo DSi games. Nothing works. So I eat eggs and the kids eat pancakes and the Farmer eats eggs and pancakes.

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

I spend a little time in the morning on email and try to manage it throughout the day. I respond to every single email I receive so I have become an expert at efficiently answering email.

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

I’m often not settled in my home. Every week we drive four hours each way for my son’s weekly cello lessons. In total I’m in the car about forty hours a week.

I used to spend these drives totally frustrated that I could not respond to emails and watch the road at the same time. I eventually hired a driver so I would have more time to do work in the car. I do most of my career coaching in the car. The coaching makes the drive better for me, and an unplanned offshoot is that the kids are learning about how to focus on issues surrounding a career.

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