Being on about 100 flights per year and sometimes three different time zones in a week can take its toll on the body. Also, while concurrently working on five companies and nine investments it is easy to forget to invest time in the things that provide long-term value.
In the past, I worked out on days when I was in Switzerland and had access to my gym. Or when I was staying at a hotel that had a gym. Or I might go run every now and then. Overall, I was very inconsistent and I didn’t make time for workouts on the days I needed it the most – days that are already full and a strain on the body and mind.
I realized that working out helped not only my body to get fit but more importantly also my brain. I realized I had to build a routine that allows me to work out independent from where I am and how full my day is.
About two years ago I started to build the habit of working out every day – twice. I work out right after I get up and just before I go to bed.
In the morning I do a repetition workout with one of the Runtastic apps. They are all bodyweight exercises – Push-Ups, Pull-Ups (the only one where some equipment is needed), Sit-Ups or Squats. These workouts take between five and 15 minutes – a time that I can always justify. Even if my day starts early, it is easy to get up 15 minutes earlier and fit the workout in. While the workout is short, they make a difference over time – I log about 16’000 Push-Ups, 18’000 Sit-Ups, 12’000 Squats and 4’000 Pull-Ups per year.
In the evening I do a time-based workout. Typically I use the 7min workout app. The app gives you 12 exercises of 30 seconds with 10 seconds in between to rest. What I like about this app is that it has a clever mechanism to help you build a habit: It counts the number of consecutive days you follow the “7 Month Challenge”. You can skip up to two days per month and still work towards the goal of following the routine for seven months straight. Thanks to that mechanism I’ve stayed with the app and have worked out daily for 522 consecutive days.
Two things that I’ve found to significantly improve my mental fitness is reading and writing.
Reading because good books expand my mental horizon and can add new angles on how to look at problems, techniques, and life in general.
Reading because communication is key for my personal and professional success. Only if I succeed at getting my point across in a way that is not only precise but also pleasant to receive for the people I interact with, we are able to advance and succeed together.
Even though I’ve always seen the importance of reading and writing, I’ve often struggled to read and write on a regular basis. While I often planned to read and write, it often got pushed to the next day or canceled altogether because other more urgent matters filled my schedule.
A few weeks ago I’ve made the decision to include reading and writing into my daily routine and practice every day, seven days a week.
Right after getting to the office I use a service called Instaread and I read a book summary of 10-30 minutes. While I enjoy reading many books in their full depth, I’ve realized that six months later it is often the key take-aways that I can remember. Reading these summaries gives me exactly that – the executive summaries and core messages. I write down the number one takeaway for myself and try to always make that actionable by asking: What is the single most important thing I can learn from this book? How can it improve my life?
I then write at least three pages every day. I can write about anything as long as it’s roughly three pages. I write for the Sendtask blog, for this blog, but I also use the time to answer interviews or just write a journal. My credo is: What I write is less important than the writing itself. It’s about building a habit, practicing and incorporating it into my daily routine.
The power of daily routines
Why have I decided to make workouts and reading/writing a part of my daily routine in comparison to do it once or a few times a week or month?
I find it significantly easier to follow a routine if I don’t take any days off. Taking weekends or other periods off always creates an entry barrier to get back into the habit for me. I find that I typically get used to a new routine in less than 21 days if I follow it every day. After 21 days, my brain and/or body have gotten used to the exercise and it becomes effortless to keep going.
Why is working out for just twenty-something minutes and writing just three pages every day more powerful than going to the gym for 2 hours twice a week or writing ten pages per week?
The power of compound interest does not only apply to the financial world but to many other areas of life. What does that mean? As a rule of thumb, I try to do 1% more repetitions, every time I read a summary I try to expand my knowledge by 1%, every time I write I try to improve my style by 1%.
Why is the 1% important? 1% doesn’t sound like much. If I’ve done 100 push-ups yesterday, it’s easy to get to 101 today. The power lies in making this a daily habit and improving by 1% every day of the year.
How much overall improvement does this lead over the course of a year?
101% ^ 365 = 3778%
If you improve 1% and you do it consistently, you improve 38x over the course of a year!
I incorporate the things that are extremely important for my long-term well-being but were sometimes difficult to find time for in my daily routine because small, consistent steps provide an invaluable gain over the course of as little as a year. By following a new routine for at least 21 days consistently and every day, the mental strain of getting started gets significantly less and the habit becomes pleasant and invaluable.
Which areas in your life are you looking to improve but haven’t found the time for?