Tony Nasrallah
Photo courtesy of Tony Nasrallah

When Tony Nasrallah rises in the morning, he isn’t depending on a hot cup of caffeinated coffee to shake off the early morning cobwebs. He’s got a different way to start his day.

“I typically wake up at 6 a.m. and take a cold shower,” says Nasrallah, founder and president of Grounds Work Land Design in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. “I always chug a glass of water before I leave the house. A workout and stretching happens occasionally. In landscaping, things change so quickly, so I also always check the weather and my daily calendar to see what I have planned.”

Here is Nasrallah’s average day:

Coffee and water is about all I have for breakfast. I should really have more.

I live one city over from the office, so my commute is very short. I would say six minutes max. My drive time is my phone time. I’m almost always on the phone when driving. When I’m not talking to someone, I try to listen to music that pumps me up. Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of pop rock. I like all genres of music.

We have our weekly all-hands meetings on Monday. So, on Mondays, it’s always before 7:30 a.m. when our meeting kicks off. Other days, it’s still before 8 a.m. An early start is important to our production.

Our standing Monday morning meetings typically don’t exceed 15 minutes in length. We actually have a shot clock in the shop, and we make sure that our crews are out the door before that buzzer goes off. While there’s some exception on Mondays because of the meeting, we still run a tight ship.

Any meeting that lasts longer than 15 minutes has some type of educational/training component tied to it. We aim to host those longer meetings in the winter/off months when we’re not pressed for time. During the busy season, we stick to a brief agenda and get through the meeting efficiently and effectively.

I’m a straight shooter. I firmly believe in talking things through. In order to be efficient, if something is bothering me, I like to talk about it.

I eat a lot of avocado toast and Greek yogurt. I really don’t eat much during the day — I’m always on the go.

I typically schedule my internal staff meetings after lunch. Before lunch, I put out fires. When I talk to my staff, I want to be focused and I just can’t confidentially do that in the mornings.

I’m working on increasing the number of internal staff meetings I have. Customer meetings are a constant though. Same with vendor meetings and other business ventures. Let’s call it between 6-8 meetings a day — those are just the scheduled ones.

I stay at the office late, but something that is very important to me is family. Even if I have to come back to the office, I always go home to see my son before he goes to bed.

Later in the evening, around 8 p.m., I focus on work. My most productive time to work is 8 p.m. to midnight because there are no distractions. My days are long, but I’m not working continuously from 7:30 a.m. to midnight. I give myself healthy breaks.

I go to bed way too late — let’s just say that.

I work seven days a week. There’s always something to get done. A lot of customers schedule appointments on the weekend, too. And I love customer visits and appointments.

Honestly, burnout isn’t in my vocabulary because I love what I do. However, prioritizing family and other personal things is pretty easy in my schedule. I’m in the car a lot and between meetings, I often stop home to see my wife and son. I also make an effort to spend Sunday with my family.