Since launching Indie Brand Builder while also playing a senior role at SoYoung, I’ve had to create a more productive daily routine and lifestyle to ensure I up my game without becoming burnt out or overwhelmed. Rather than feeling exhausted by the change, I’m finding I have more energy and am more productive than I’ve ever been.
Here’s some of the specific techniques I have adopted to ensure I stay on track.
Waking by 5 AM and morning ritual
One of the biggest changes I’ve made in creating a more productive daily routine and lifestyle is to become an early riser, waking daily at 5AM or earlier. I start with a glass of water and 30 pushups to get my blood flowing. I do 10 minutes of meditation to start my morning ritual of preparing my mindset for the day, which also includes a readthrough my annual goals and commitments, creating a short gratitude list and listing what I would have to do to make that day great. I then visualize myself accomplishing those things as well as a few of my larger goals. I’m usually seated at my computer by about 5.30 and started on tasks for the day.
Having a consistent nightly ritual
Waking early means having to get to bed earlier as well – usually shortly after nine. My evening ritual takes place as I lie in bed, where I once again read over my annual goals and commitments. Then, opening my notebook I do a “positive focus”, listing everything I’ve accomplished that day, as well as a reflection on any areas for improvement. Finally, I make a list of my priorities for the next day. All of this takes just 5-10 minutes but it clears my head for a good night’s rest. I then read some fiction for 15 or 20 minutes which gets my eyelids nice and heavy.
A Weekly focus day out of office
On Wednesdays, I spend the entire day working at Soho House, which is a private members club in downtown Toronto. It’s a beautiful environment and a nice mid-week change of pace from the office. This is a day when I can just put my head down and work on larger tasks without interruption. I also try to arrange lunch or coffee with a friend who works downtown to ensure I’m staying connected and inspired.
I’ve done some formal mediation training so I use a traditional approach of sitting with straight posture and emptying my mind of thought while focussing on my breath. As mentioned above, I do 10 minutes in the morning when I first wake up. SoYoung’s entire team also does a 15 minute meditation daily at 1PM. On Wednesdays while taking the subway downtown I’ll use my travel time to meditate, which is usually 25 – 30 minutes each way. Finally, on the weekend when I let my morning routine slide I’ll set aside some time for a longer 20 minute session.
Meeting consolidation days
Catherine and I both are averse to meetings but recognize their importance in running the business. We have standing internal meetings on Tuesdays and Fridays so we try to consolidate all of our meetings on those days, if possible. There are unavoidable exceptions but in general this allows us to chunk out more time for productive, focussed tasks.
Increased use of dictation
When I’m writing the draft of an article or blog post, I will often just dictate into a Google doc on my iPhone (as I am doing right now). I tend to be a verbal thinker so it’s a great way for me to multiply the speed at which I create content. Despite it being strictly stream of thought, when I go back to edit it, I’m often surprised at how much I have to work with.
Starting a mastermind group
I joined a couple of virtual communities early in my blogging journey and used them to meet other people pursuing the same goal of creating an online platform. We meet once a week for an hour on Google hangouts, and each of us takes turns doing a deep dive on the challenges we’re facing as we try to grow our platform and subscriber base.
Cutting down on sugar
I have a sweet tooth, but I find that sugar dramatically affects my energy levels. Just one dessert can make me feel lethargic and rundown, and sugar is so insidious that one dessert often leads to another. I haven’t become an obsessive label reader, but I’ve cut out eating sweets and sugary desserts except on Saturdays, and I find that I no longer have energy dips late in the day.
It sounds counterintuitive, but I’m actually a lot more productive now that I’m not trying to squeeze as many hours as possible out of a single day. One of the biggest contributors to getting more sleep has been the simple change of keeping my iPhone charger across the room rather than at my bedside. It’s been shown that our willpower is much lower at night when we are tired and have been making decisions all day. As an admitted news junkie, I find I’m particularly susceptible to staying up too late by getting sucked into the internet vortex of “interesting but useless” information.
One of the biggest contributors to getting more sleep has been the simple change of keeping my iPhone charger across the room rather than at my bedside.
Take Sundays completely off
As much as I have been energized by the task of creating a new platform, it can become all-consuming at times. So one of the keys to creating a more productive daily routine and lifestyle is setting aside time when you DON’T need to be productive. I give myself a complete break from any rituals or wake times and consciously avoid all work related activities on Sundays. This includes not reading or listening to business books or podcasts, not reading business news and not talking about business issues. The one exception is that I do my evening routine before I go to bed Sunday night and make a list of things to do for Monday.
It’s been almost 2 months since I’ve committed to creating a more productive daily routine and lifestyle – though I lost a little momentum around Christmas with all the travel and time off. Rather than being a burden, I’ve felt much more energized, and I am optimistic that this more productive routine and lifestyle will be sustainable. I’m aware that part of the momentum stems from the fact that I have a new, ambitious goal that I am excited and motivated to achieve. However, my hope and belief is that, with new habits firmly in place and with the support structures I’ve built around my mastermind group and friends (including you all!) I’ll be able to weather the emotional headwinds that are sure to arise.
Have any tips on how you’ve created a more productive daily routine and lifestyle? Leave them in the comments below!