A lot of productivity related content creators have a my typical day runthrough; I wanted to do the same, but also use it as an opportunity to discuss the evolution of my routine, the whys, how I did trouble shooting, so on, instead of just showing the current result (and it’s always a work in progress). This is just an insight into what currently works for me; it’s not meant to be prescriptive in any way.
I decided that waking up at the same time every day, and at 8:10, is best for me. I’ve experimented with not setting an alarm, but found it to not be enough structure. I’ve tried having a designated day to sleep in, but it just threw me off, and seemed to encourage allowing a sleep deficit to build during the rest of the week that the one day didn’t actually compensate for. It’s not that I never break schedule, but it’s not, well, part of the schedule.
I chose 8:10 because of it’s relation to the next important time—9:30. We selected 9:30 for brunch because, at the time, it was shortly after my wife’s weekday morning work call/meeting. She doesn’t have that job or meeting anymore, but it still works out pretty well, so we kept it. 8:10 lets me do everything I want to do in the morning before brunch, before 9:30.
I also experimented with waking up about an hour earlier to have an hour of writing time in the morning. But it wasn’t a super productive time for me—I was too sleepy, letting my sleep med wear off, to get much done. So I rearranged how I plan for writing, and decided to try following my natural sleep rhythms—fighting your natural energy cycles isn’t very useful in productivity, even though productivity oriented people tend to romanticize the early morning—which, incidentally, led me to about 8:10.
Once I’m up, I do all the bathroom things, wash up, get dressed, etc. See to health basics like flossing and SPF, but I keep it simple, not wanting to devote more time to it than necessary. I wear the same thing every day, so there’s no decision making (or decision fatigue) involved. I take a 100mg caffeine supplement, since I found caffeine helps me, but I’m not big on coffee/tea/etc, and I don’t want something I dump a bunch of fat and sugar in, anyway. It’s fast and measurable, a small, healthy dose. I take it first thing in the morning to help wake me up, and so it has a long time to wear off before bedtime.
Then, I bring my water bottle downstairs to refill it. Making sure water is convenient is the number one way I’ve found to keep hydrated. Tracking water intake is a pain for me, and I eventually tune out any reminders/notifications. But just making sure I always have water nearby works well enough.
Then I go for a one mile walk around the neighborhood. It gets me some fresh air, sunlight, exercise. I bring my phone mostly for safety reasons, but I leave it stored; I don’t listen to music or anything, preferring a more internally focused, productively meditative experience. I like music, but I found that it affected my thoughts too much. I also leave my laptop off until after brunch, and I don’t really have anything worth mentioning on my phone, trying to keep digital boundaries. Sometimes I run for short stretches—this is newer, and I’m working my way up—and sometimes I don’t. I keep my route simple, so I don’t have to focus on that instead of on what’s going on in my head. I’ve increased it up to a mile and three quarters before, but I feel like I get most of the benefit I’m going to get every morning within a mile, with steeply diminishing returns after that, so for now, I keep it to a mile.
When I get back, I turn my focus away from caring for me and towards caring for the house and other things. I make the bed, turn on some lights in high traffic rooms. Open the blinds and windows if it’s nice, for some sun and fresh air. Spritz an energizing linen spray in a few places. Tidy up. Make the house nice and in awake/morning mode. See to the plants and the cats, the living things getting first priority. So on. If I have a few extra minutes, I might throw in some extra exercise, other chores, or make lists and such in my notebook.
Then, I make us brunch. Simple, small, healthy enough—usually an English muffin with butter, and fruit for me, more water. Anything too heavy often makes me crash these days. I might mix it up sometimes and have pancakes, or add bacon, maybe sausage or an egg for my wife, who usually has a bagel. We eat together, no TV, no phones, and talk. Having brunch—and dinner—and doing many other things, at the same time each day adds structure. I clean up right away after—I’ve found it’s easiest that way.
We eat dinner at six, which means I start making dinner anywhere from 4:45 to 5:25, unless maybe I threw something in the crock pot or sous vide that morning, and it doesn’t need anything else until 5:45. Usually my biggest and most complex meal of the day, usually protein focused, with a carb and a veggie. More water. Again, we eat together without technology or what have you, and I clean up quickly after, and at some point shut down the downstairs—locks, blinds and windows, lights—and go upstairs for the night, after refilling my water one more time and such.
As far as my daily schedule is concerned, I have open time in here, as I do for the middle of the day, though my weekly schedule and calendar again may say otherwise. I fill in other recurring tasks as they fit, and occasional miscellany. Calendar events include teaching webinars and running Las Vegas TNG. Generally, I fill time writing and doing butler school coursework. At some point in the middle of the day, I usually grab a snack or light lunch (I like to leave this unofficial, as I go through phases with it). Might have company or run errands, take breaks, etc.
But, evening. Upstairs, at 9:35, I start getting ready for sleep. This gives me enough time to do my things, wind down a little, and have lights out by 10:10, giving me about an hour to fall asleep—my current average—to be asleep by 11:10, nine hours (the amount of sleep I’ve determined I naturally need in an average night) before my 8:10 morning alarm.
I turndown the bedroom for nighttime, which helps signal to my body that it’s almost time for sleep. I write a brief journal entry—including habit tracking, to see how things are going, and a daily tarot reading, to reflect. My journal also has weekly, monthly, etc. reviews to easily be able to reflect and look back. I take my Seroquel, set my phone alarms as reminders for the next day—any recurring tasks or calendar events assigned to the day, then maybe a few additional things I want to tackle. I find that placing everything as alarms—even those that aren’t time bound—keeps me realistic about how much can fit in a day. I wash up and change for bed, make sure all of my electronics are charging—don’t want a low battery to get in my way—and then shut my laptop entirely, to remain off until after brunch.
And then, it’s pretty much time for sleep.