If you want to know what I do to get the most out of my days, here is a fairly comprehensive list that I adhere to on a daily basis (minus fishing trips and other things that take me away from access to the exact things mentioned)
A couple of things to note that are missing from my morning routine…by design. I do not look at any emails before I am sitting at my desk. It is too easy to get derailed thinking something is urgent and “just one email” becomes a missed workout. I do look at Twitter or Instagram briefly, but try to limit it as much as possible. On the days I do not work out, I am usually at the local coffee shop writing or working on my next talk.
On a typical day, here is the routine:
Wake up: Always before 6:00am, usually by 5:30am
First thing I do: (weird, but hear me out) I don’t swallow once I wake up. I walk to the bathroom and spit out anything in my mouth, and then gargle with mouthwash to kill all the germs and bacteria that end up in your mouth overnight. Your immune system takes a hit every day if you make it fight off these preventable invaders. I have only been sick once in the past five years since I started being more diligent about this, and I am sure this helps.
Next: I drink a daily dose of Athletic Greens to start my day. This does a couple of things for me: A. It is nutritional insurance B. I drink it with 16 ounces of water, so that is a bonus and C. It curbs any hunger I may have. I do some intense workouts without every feeling like I “bonked” in the process. (this is not a paid endorsement, although I’d like it to be!)
Then I: We take our oversized guinea pig of a dog for a three mile walk. He is a trooper and loves every minute of it. It is a good warm up exercise, my wife and I talk about whatever, and we get some outdoor time with our little monster.
And then: Work out, roughly four days a week. In addition to this, my wife and I will hike a short but intense hike to mix things up and enjoy some new scenery. If you follow me on Instagram, you can see some of my workouts, including stuff we do at the park, on the stairs and a steep incline ramp. ( @darrinchatter ) Don’t try most of that stuff at home until you are ready to handle it ;-)
All of the above takes place and concludes before 8:00am
After I shower and get ready (YES, I shower AND put on a collared shirt and pants despite working from home) I sit down at my desk to start my work day. BUT…
First: I use the Focused Inbox feature on my phone to delete all spam and other emails that do not belong there and/or warrant my attention. This allows me to weed through my online inbox much faster, and prioritize things that need done.
Then: I review the emails in my inbox, from the bottom up. I answer them in the order they came in, unless there is a “project” involved in the response. This will go on the To Do list for later in the morning.
Next: I write a list of the things I need to accomplish before noon, today, this week and long term. This again allows me to streamline my approach to my day, and get things done in a timely manner.
Then: I answer the emails that need my attention first, and also check in with my staff to see if they need anything from me. This way they are not waiting on me for a reply, and it allows them to be more efficient as well. Once I have a handle on things, I can move into scheduled calls or presentations.
Around 9:30am: I have not eaten anything (solid food) yet, as I am a big believer and practioner of Intermittent Fasting. You can read more on that if you want by clicking here. I am a fan of the 16/8 approach, meaning I fast 16 hours a day and eat all my food within an eight hour window. If that sounds extreme, keep in mind that I am asleep for half of that total time. So technically I am only fasting the first few hours and the last few hours of the day. In line with this lifestyle, I eat a heavy protein meal to “break the fast”, so usually the following:
half a bagel with cream cheese or Kodiak brand waffles or pancake (just one)
I enjoy Chai tea a lot, and usually wait until after breakfast to have this daily treat.
Now: back to work. I am usually at my desk, on calls and/or presentations until about noon. Any time not allocated for a scheduled call or presentation will be filled with working on my To Do list. This needs to be focused time, and with the intent of checking things off my to do list, not just logging hours. I don’t look at social media, I don’t have the TV on in the background, and I am not sitting in the living room trying to work. I have a job to do (and do well) and I don’t want any distractions.
Lunch: The time and what I eat will vary, but since I am half way through my eating time window, I am not going to head to Burger King for lunch. I am going to make food at home and make a good, healthy meal to fuel the system.
If I can get everything done in my day by 2PM, I have more time than usual to use as I see fit. If my day takes me all the way to 5PM, then so be it. But I have seen a huge difference in working from home, and that difference is I have fewer distractions and therefore and more efficient and productive. This is solely based on my personal discipline, and if I stray from the above schedule, I pay the price.
Dinner: This is the last thing I am going to eat for the day, and so I plan accordingly. If I eat junk (which on occasion I do) I will feel crappy in the morning, and probably feel very hungry when I wake up. This is due to lack of nutrient intake for my body to have the resources it needs to do its thing overnight.
Walk the dog: Yes, that spoiled little monster gets a short walk at night too. It s a good way to unwind, chat with my wife about her day and get a few more steps into my day.
Sauna: We decided to invest in ourselves by getting an infrared sauna for the house. We gave up our gym memberships during the COIVD pandemic, but wanted to have this as a thing we can still do. You can read about the benefits of heat exposure on Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s website . A 20 minute session several times a week has a lot of benefits, including better skin, better sleep and detoxing the body. A cool shower afterwards is very relaxing and gets me ready for sleep.
Sleep: My wife and I are in bed early, usually around 8pm. We prioritize sleep in our house, as it is necessary for life in general, but certain for our active lifestyle.
So, despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a superhero or anything like that :-) I am a person who has implemented a set of systems and disciplines that work for me. I get more done than many in a shorter time, because of these systems. That means that I end up with more free time, not less. This means more time to fish, write, do talks, etc. that I love to do. I work hard to have MORE free time, not less. I stay disciplined to have MORE freedom, not less.
Should you follow this routine exactly? Probably not. I am not here to tell you how to live your life, but rather share things that work for me and point you in the direction of setting up your own systems. You will get out what you put into each day, so keep that in mind when you start to slack or stray from the process. It happens to me too, I am not immune. It is a constant battle to walk the line, but when I do, things are so much easier and better that I wonder why I ever fall off track. But I do; I am human too. It is in our nature to do so, and the battle will continue for as long as I am above ground.
I wish you luck in your endeavors.