For most of my life I operated without a daily routine. I would have an idea of what needed to be done every day, and how I should be living my life, but there was little consistency between my days. Around a year ago I started working on building a daily routine, and I've been surprised to find that I like it more than running free. I prefer it because I can focus my decision-making on important things, rather than minutiae, and I can optimize my routine as I go, rather than starting from scratch every day.
I generally wake up between nine and eleven in the morning, usually pretty close to ten. I don't set an alarm because I've noticed that being well slept is one of the biggest influences on daily performance. Waking up an hour earlier by alarm can reduce my ability to focus by half. Not worth it.
As soon as I wake up, I set a timer for five minutes and I meditate. I've only been doing this for a month, and haven't noticed any benefits yet, but I expect it to be a long term investment, not a short term one. The five minutes goes by fast.
Immediately after meditating, I weigh in on my withings scale, brush my teeth, and put water on for tea. Usually I drink Samovar's Green Ecstasy, but I've been drinking Breakaway Matcha's 99 and 100 recently, and I'll occasionally drink a Taiwanese Oolong. I drink tea early because the blend of caffeine, theanine, and whatever else is in tea, helps me focus. I can actually feel the difference when I don't have tea. The effect wears off after a couple hours, but it's a nice way to jump start work early.
As I'm drinking tea, I go through emails and I check things like blog stats, bug reports, and less important stuff like reddit. If I work while drinking tea I neglect the tea and it gets cold, so I don't start until after I finish my tea.
When the tea is done, that's my cue to get to work. I usually start off by replying to emails or writing, just to get them out of the way. My main priority is always SETT, and I've found that it's really important to have the biggest block of time available for SETT. If I only have an hour or two, I tend to not tackle really serious chunks of work that need to get done. But if I know I have a good eight hours before I have to do anything, I'm quick to jump in.
I work out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On those days at noon, I have a can of coconut water (Taste Nirvana is my favorite brand because it comes from Thailand and is reasonably priced on Amazon), two scoops of protein powder, and a banana. I walk to the gym at one, do my workout, shower, and come back to eat lunch.
I eat the same thing for lunch every day, but on non workout days I eat at 1pm instead of 2pm or so. Lunch is two sandwiches, both with Ezekiel bread and spinach. One is a tin of sardines with hummus, and the other is tuna with mayo. On workout days I also eat two cookies from Alternative Baking Company. These are not healthy, but my trainer has prescribed a ton of carbs on workout days, and eating that quantity of healthy foods was so bulky that I'd feel sick and incapacitated. So I compromise and eat the cookies. On non workout days I have an apple and another coconut water for a smaller and healthier dose of carbs.
While I eat lunch, I usually watch a documentary. I actually try to think of food as fuel, and not as gustatory pleasure, because this attitude helps me make good food decisions. So rather than savor the sardines, I focus on learning something. Sometimes I watch a Khan academy or a documentary I've downloaded, but when I have nothing pressing, I search Youtube for something like "Kyoto Documentary" or "Concorde Documentary", or "Napoleon Documentary". Watching documentaries is fun and it gives me broad but superficial knowledge on a bunch of topics.
From lunch until dinner, I work on SETT. I typically address bugs first, and then build out new features, because I want people who report bugs to see that we really care and are responsive. I hate when I report a bug to someone and it doesn't get fixed for months. Our goal is twenty four hours, but bugs are usually fixed much sooner than that. If I'm distracted or working on something tough, I take little five minute breaks and play violin.
During this period, Todd comes over to the RV, usually for 2-4 hours, so that we can work on SETT together. A lot of times we just work on different parts of SETT, but we also use this time to talk about strategy and coordinate when we'll both be working on something related. This is an immutable part of both of our schedules that we observe seven days a week, assuming we're both in the same city.
Todd usually leaves around the time I have dinner. I jump on the train to go to Chipotle downtown, and start my Japanese flashcards on the train. I continue them as I eat my Chipotle (lots of carbs on workout days, few on rest days), and try to finish on the train back. Sometimes I still have 5-10 minutes left, though. Depending on if it's a workout day or not, dinner is between seven and nine.
From dinner until midnight I continue to work. Ninety percent of the time it's on SETT, but sometimes I'll do another batch of email or some little RV project. Most Monday and Fridays I go play poker during this period instead of working.
At midnight I shut down my computer. The only exception is if there's something critically wrong with SETT. I try to avoid getting into situations late in the day where that's possible, but it might happen once every couple months. I floss and brush my teeth, sometimes spend 5-10 minutes cleaning the RV, and then read.
I used to read from midnight until two every night, but my workouts have left me more tired than usual, so I almost never make it until two. I probably average reading for an hour or an hour and a half. If I haven't finished my Japanese flashcards, I'll do them in bed before reading.
The two primary features of my schedule are that it's extremely focused on SETT, and that I try to be as efficient as possible. That's not to say that I don't have days where I'm just dragging and spinning my wheels, but I've designed and tweaked my schedule to make sure that even on a mediocre day I've gotten a lot of work done, learned something new, and eaten healthy food.
I do make exceptions occasionally. There are certain things that I consider to be so worthwhile that I'll break my schedule for them. I'll spend a few hours drinking tea and hanging out with a friend and not feel bad about it. I also try to experience one "masterpiece" per week, to keep my sights focused high. Masterpiece is a subjective word, but for me this means going to a museum, seeing a play/opera/ballet, or going out into nature. This week Eric from Breakaway Matcha came to my RV and brewed some of his best matcha, so I counted that.
Not all of them actually have set up their blogs, but we've given out over 160 invites to SETT so far. If you're one of the new users and I haven't linked to you yet, private message me a post from your blog and I'll link to some of them. If you speak Spanish, check out Angel's blog Viviral Maximo. His feedback last week helped us improve SETT quite a bit.
If you're logged into SETT, you can go to www.sett.com to see posts across all blogs.
The benefit of having your subconscious make decisions isn't so much that it's a better decision maker than your conscious mind (it's probably not), but that it can make decisions much much faster than your conscious mind. You don't have to spend your focus and energy making decisions that you already have heuristics for.
For example, when I play poker, many of the decisions are made by my subconscious. This allows me to make many good analyses per minute, rather than just a few, and to dedicate my conscious processing to the most important factors at hand. It's not that I couldn't do all of the processing consciously, it's just that I wouldn't have time.
In the same way that offloading work to your subconscious helps you make decisions and opinions faster, I've found that implementing protocols has helped me take action faster, and has been a key component of my recent increase in productivity.
When you think about it, most of what you do is the same every day. The way you wake up, eat your meals, go to sleep, approach your work, and utilize your free time all follow predictable patterns. If that's true-- why don't we optimize these things for maximum efficiency?
Its official now, my friend has agreed to the bet. He is a sincere and tough fellow who intends to donate the amount to charity if I fail.
Terms and Conditions:
Start date: Aug 15th 2013
Party A agrees to pay an amount of rupees 20,000 to party B in case of failure of the reaching following goal:
Loosing 4 inches of waistline in 2 months