Written on January 9, 2018
I’m lucky to be working remotely with Buffer, which gives me the freedom and flexibility to plan however I want my day to be like. Over the past year, I have been trying a daily routine that I feel maximizes my productivity and happiness.
In this post, I would love to share my daily routine and the principles behind it with you. It may or may not work for you but I hope you’ll find something insightful that you can apply to your daily life.
My daily routine
My weekday schedule is generally the same throughout the week. This is how it looks like:
- 5:30 am: Wake up (no snooze)
- 5:30 – 6:30 am: Breakfast and read
- 6:30 – 8:00 am: Exercise
- 8:00 – 9:00 am: Second breakfast and read
- 9:00 – 12:00 pm: Focused work (usually replying to important messages and then writing)
- 12:00 – 1:00 pm: Lunch and read
- 1:00 – 2:30 pm: Low cognitive load work (such as update blog stats spreadsheet, republishing blog posts onto Medium, etc.)
- 2:30 – 3:00 pm: Power nap
- 3:00 – 6:00 pm: Focused work
- 6:00 – 9:00 pm: Dinner and stuff (spend time with family, meet friends, learn something new, etc.)
- 9:00 – 9:30 pm: Read
- 9:30 pm: Bedtime
On weekends, I do not have a fixed schedule apart from going for an early morning bike ride with a few friends. I’ll then spend the rest of the day with my fiancée and family.
My weekdays don’t look exactly like this all the time but they are pretty close. Here are a few major exceptions:
On some days, I have early morning video calls with my teammates in the U.S. This doesn’t happen often, maybe around once or twice a month. I like to schedule such calls before my daily exercise and start my morning work session later. This way, I’ll still have a good two-hour block for my workout and breakfast.
Sometimes, I have video calls in the afternoon or evening with my teammates in Australia, the U.K., or Europe. I try to schedule them such that I’ll have time blocks of one to two hours to do focused work.
Another exception is when I co-work with my awesome teammate, Stephanie Lee, or with friends, such as Ali Mese. On such days, I’ll keep the first half of my day until 11 am the same. I’ll then commute out to have lunch and co-work with them.
My daily routine is built on top of several principles to help me create days when I would feel the most productive and happy (though it doesn’t happen all the time).
First, I prefer to stick to a routine to reduce the mental effort for figuring what to do. Here’s a small but, I think, meaningful example: I always go to bed around 9:30 pm and wake up at 5:30 am (except for very rare occasions). With fixed bedtime and waking up time, I don’t have to decide what time to go to bed, how many hours I want to sleep, and what time to wake up the next day. 9:30 pm, 8 hours, and 5:30 am. That’s it. Some people might find having such routine boring. To me, having a routine that I like takes away much anxiety and keeps me calm.
Second, like I mentioned above, I like to sleep early, wake up early, and have about eight hours of sleep every night. Having about eight hours of sleep is crucial for my productivity the next day. I learned that I cannot function well if I sleep a few hours less. I also prefer to start my day early because I love the quietness and serenity in the morning.
Third, I aim to do some form of exercise every morning. I feel refreshed and energized for the day after being outdoors for a while and getting some fresh air. On most days, I’ll swim or run unless it rains; then I’ll go to the gym. If I sleep late the night before, on those rare occasions, I’ll still aim to have eight hours of sleep. But instead of a full workout, I’ll try to go for a morning walk.
Finally, I try to keep work to just the weekdays 9-6. I found that working in the evening over a long period of time can easily lead to a burnout. I also avoid working on the weekends so that I can spend time with my fiancée and family, who would always meet on the weekends to spend time together. I’m thankful that Singapore is small enough for all of us to meet so regularly.
The result of many experiments
This routine is the results of trying many different things. For example, I’ve tried writing for two hours once I wake up, meditating before I start my workday, and exercising in the evening. Eventually, I found that this routine makes me feel the most productive and happiest, for at least a year now.
Do you have a daily routine? How does it look like?
Image credit: Unsplash (That isn’t me in the photo but it’ll be amazing to start my day like this every day!)