Everyone has a different approach to how they live their lives. For too many, it is perceived to be better to go through your day without having a set game plan. Many people loathe the idea of a rigid structure, maybe because we have lots of times during the week where we have to do something: go to class, meetings, picking up groceries, taking the kids to soccer practice, etc. The appeal of making things up as you go is obvious, however, not the best approach in my opinion.
I can speak from personal experience that I love the days where I don’t have a particular agenda, that I drift through my day and feel no obligation to get anything done. Some people would say this is part of the definition of being rich, to have total autonomy to your time and no real responsibilities. But hopefully by the time you reach your mid twenties or so you understand that this is not reality. So instead of falling victim to my desires of no structure, I am going to share with you how I set up my days for success. ***Keep in mind, I am writing this after about four months of work from home due to COVID19 and its impact on the world. I did some of this before, but I have enhanced it since my work from home stint began, and am loving every minute of it.
I wake up about 5:30am on the days my wife doesn’t get up for work. On the days that she is working, her alarm goes off at about 4:30am, and I get up with her. I am not much of a morning person, so it takes a bit to get going versus her; as soon as her feet hit the floor she is cheery and ready to go. But I like chatting with her before she leaves for twelve hours, and so I make myself get out of bed. We usually walk the dog before she departs; it is also something we do together, and so that is more quality time to start the day.
I have been doing intermittent fasting for about two years now, and it works really well for me. I sleep better, I feel like I recover better, and it also allows me to not have to spend the first part of my day trying to decide what to make and then actually preparing breakfast. I will drink a serving of Athletic Greens shortly after waking, and that is it until my next thing, which is my favorite part of the morning routine. I am a huge fan of Chai tea, so whether I make it myself or go to the local coffee shop, this perpetual treat of mine is a daily ritual. I sit outside, in my back yard or at the coffee shop, and sip the Chai while I write. I let my mind focus on the task at hand, which is enjoying this moment and focusing on the creative process. I have unknowingly created a daily ritual that calms my mind, and allows me to start my day on the right track. It is almost without fail a pleasurable experience, and not only am I adding to the ever-increasing number of posts in my blog, some days it doubles as self therapy also.
If I have not done so the night before, I take a few minutes to write out my To Do list for the day. I always have emails and work stuff to do, so that is a given But I want to make sure the time around those things is not wasted and unproductive. I write out a couple things that I want to be sure get done by the end of the day. Small things like grocery shopping or picking up an item from Target or something like that usually gets done early in the day, just to check it off the list. House stuff like loading and unloading the dishwasher usually waits until right before the wife gets home, so the house will look as clean as possible when she walks in. She appreciates that, as it relieves the stress of taking care of the household stuff after a long day at work. I look forward to crossing things off of my To Do list. I makes me feel like I am getting things done. I feel more organized and productive when I do it this way versus just wandering through my day, hoping to remember or notice the things that need to be accomplished.
Because my work schedule has changed, I am using the clock app on my cell phone a lot more. I look at my calendar for the day and set an alarm/reminder for ten minutes before each presentation or phone call. This is a must for me, as I am easily distracted by things like writing and therefore susceptible to missing important things, so I avoid that with this simple practice. Anything I have to do that is a tedious task, or something I don’t really want to do, I make sure I get this done early in my day. I want it off my list, and I have the most energy and focus to do something like this early in the day. This is the best time to do it, at least for me.
Recently I added in to my day a repeat of this at 1:00pm as well. I do another round of emails and/or projects right after I take a break and eat lunch. If my day is busy enough to warrant this, I can fairly easily achieve a second round of “momentum” for the rest of the day. Being in sales, my days vary quite a bit. And I tell the same story all of the time, so I wouldn’t say that I need to be super sharp to still do a very good job. This is why I want to allocate my mental strength and focus on the other tasks I need to do, and I want to do this early in the day.
Because of the intermittent fasting, I do not eat anything after 6pm, and this begins the wind down of my day. I have put a much higher priority on sleep recently than I have in years before, and it has been paying off. I do my best to not look at my phone for a minimum of two hours before I sleep. I have been experimenting with a few different things that aid in sleep and recovery, most of which have helped in their own way. For example, a weighted blanket has actually been a really great addition to the process. I also use a combination sleep mask with earphones in them, and listen to music or a podcast to fall asleep to. I sleep better and deeper than I have in recent years, and I can tell a difference in my daytime overall energy. I don’t get as sore from workouts, and my focus is better overall. I don’t get a mid-afternoon crash, and I believe that coupled with the intermittent fasting have evened out my energy levels in a macro sense.
This is a small peek into some things that work for me. I experimented with a lot of this to get to these conclusions for me, and recommend you do the same. I borrow ideas from others all the time, and try things for myself to evaluate how effective they are…for me. There are not too many blanket rules for the masses, and I want to be able to “defend” my decisions for the things I do in my life. This means trial and error, and close monitoring of things that I try. I like the experiments, and love the idea of optimizing my life little by little. Hopefully this gets you headed down this same path.
I wish you luck in your endeavors.