The Busy Person’s Everyday Routines for Productivity

In episode 2 of my vlog experiment, I talk about daily routines. They help me stay fit and productive without getting overwhelmed by all the ups and downs of modern life. I hope this will serve as an inspiration to many of you, especially if you’ve struggled with things like working out during travel or incorporating any other useful routine into your life. Enjoy!

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Video Transcription

Lately, I’ve been traveling a whole bunch. So much that last year I think I was on a total of 120 flights. I barely spent two days in the same city and very often less than a week in the same time zone.

One thing that I’ve realized is that life goes by extremely quickly, especially when you travel so much. And that’s why I’ve built a number of routines that help me take a step back every now and then from the action and to also make sure I do not forget about the things that I want to do and incorporate in my daily ritual.

I want to give you a quick overview of what my regular day looks like. And if I say regular what I mean is, like, every day. I try to build certain routines that I follow every single day or every week so that there are never excuses. And that also means I need to build them in a way where I can follow these routines no matter what. Whether I’m in a cold or warm environment. Whether I’m traveling for business or fun. Or if I’m in Switzerland or in the US.

There are five routines and rituals that I’ll tell you about.

Number one: Workouts

What I’ve realized is that as soon as I got on a plane, I felt like I wouldn’t have to stick to my regular workout routine. I didn’t have access to my gym. Maybe I had to get up early to catch a flight. Or maybe I went to a time zone where I was likely to be jet-lagged.

If you’re traveling 300 days out of the year suddenly you’re only sticking to your routines and workout regime about 60 days per year. That was definitely not enough for me.

So what I’ve done is I thought about what are some exercises and workouts that I can do every single day independent of where I am and what equipment I have access to to stay healthy.

What I’ve come up with are very simple but efficient and effective routines. For over one and a half years I’ve done seven-minute workouts. I do a lot of push-ups, a lot of squats. In general, I work only with bodyweight exercises and I try to keep the workouts short.Typically my workout is somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes per day. Right now I have this routine where the first thing that I do after I get up is first set of 200 push-ups and then 300 squats.

A) It builds big muscle groups;

B) It gets my blood flowing and wakes me up, telling my body that I have to be ready.

The beautiful thing about doing that first thing in the morning is it gives you an immediate sense of accomplishment. So after two hundred push-ups and three hundred squats immediately I feel ready for the day. I’ve already accomplished something. There are no excuses – I do this whether I’m a flat that I often go to; whether I’m in a hotel room and air B&B; or even very often if I just arrived from a flight and the first thing I can do is go to an airport lounge, get a shower room and do my workout in there.

Number two: Mornings are sacred

I keep my mornings open to work on long-term priorities. What that means is when I get to the office I don’t immediately jump into reading email or reading a website. What I do is I go into Sendtask or my task manager and I look at what are some long-term priorities that I want to make an impact on today.

So every morning when I get to the office until about 1:00 p.m. it’s completely blocked off. I don’t take any meetings, I don’t take any calls, but I use it to work actively and not proactively.

So instead of reacting to someone calling me or wanting something from me and requesting information, I work on stuff that I feel I need to make progress on in order to be happy. What that accomplishes is it gives me this gratification at the end of the day where I feel I’ve achieved something.

Before I had this rule I often felt like I have been working for 12 hours but I could accomplish nothing because I was only reacting to other people’s needs.

Now, because I keep the morning until 1:00 p.m. blocked and I work on the stuff that I feel I need to have an impact on. That gives me a sense of achievement at the end of every day.

Number three: Educating myself

Reading and listening to podcasts and so on. What I’ve experienced in the past is I often got so pulled into my day-to-day and into my full schedule, that it was hard for me to take a step away and make time for stuff that didn’t have an immediate short-term impact- like reading a book -but have an even bigger long-term impact because reading a book always widens my horizon, gives me different perspectives and lets me approach things from a different perspective.

1. Podcasts

Once I had learned that it was hard for me to just casually make time for these long-term priorities, I figured out I need to find a way to build them into my daily routine. So what I’ve done is every morning, if I have a commute to work, I use that time to listen to a podcast and I do it at twice the speed. So, typically, even if it’s just a 20-minute commute, that is good enough for one or even two podcast episodes between 20 and 40 minutes.

2. Book summaries

The second thing I do to educate myself is I stopped reading full books started reading book summaries. So every morning once I get to the office, the first thing I do is I read a quick book summary. Takes me between five and fifteen minutes and I use a service called Instaread for that, but there are many others – like Blinkist; there are also websites that publish short book summaries.

I’m doing this to accumulate a lot of knowledge in very short time. It allows me to get a good idea of whether it’s worth diving into that book and then every now and then I find a topic that I’m so interested that I either choose to read the full book or at least pick a full chapter or a few full chapters that I read out of this book.

So this way I went from reading maybe one or in good cases two books per month to accumulating the knowledge of one book per day.

Number four: Dedicated days

So I use some days during the week to do a particular thing and then block that out the other days of the week. For example, Wednesday afternoons are my call afternoons so I try to bundle every regular call on to Wednesday afternoon.

Usually, that results in calls between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, so it’s a long duration. In return for that, I get a lot of freedom the rest of the week and I can just focus on going through my calls during that time.

A benefit of having all these calls one after another is that very often I can go for very long walks and just be outside. I can use my wireless headphones to plug in in either to my laptop if I’m walking around in the office or to my phone if I’m walking around outside.

This way I get some exercise or at least some fresh air in while I’m doing these calls. I don’t feel stuck on my screen for seven hours.

And last, but not least: The 90 Day Review and Preview

Number five is something that I do on a quarterly basis. So another daily ritual but still something that I’ve incorporated into my thinking as the year progresses which is something I called a 90-day review and preview.

That’s when I consciously take a step back from my busy and full calendar and I use the time to think about different areas of my life and how I want to change things or how I feel about the certain area of life.

These areas may include something like friends, friendship, relationship, but also money, success, personal growth, education, fitness, health and so on and so forth.

I’ll cover that process in a different episode but just wanted to mention it here because it’s kind of the guiding principle that led to all these daily routines. Because I realized I didn’t feel great in a certain area of my life – I didn’t make the progress that I intended to make – and that’s why I decided to build something into my daily routine in order to achieve it on a daily basis.

This is how I structure my day, my week, and to a degree my quarters. I hope this provides some inspiration for some of you who struggled to either workout while you’re traveling or stick to a certain ritual.

If you have other rituals that you’re using and you think I could profit from or other people that see this video could get value from, please share them in the comments.

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And with that, until next time!