I’m not going to hit you with inspirational quotes about productivity, I’m sure you have seen them all. While a clever, Instagrammed saying about getting things done is easy enough to post to Facebook with an emphatic “Truth!” as your only comment, what really will help you get ahead is managing your time well, perhaps even creating a time budget. (BTW, that’s not me in the picture at the top…it’s the amazing @BrandonHeidt moving giant MONOPOLY prop pieces around the office).
I decided to share with you what a successful day looks like for me. Although I tend to follow patterns, each day does differ a little, but this is what an ideal day is for me.
5:30am – Alarm goes off. I throw on a robe and go downstairs to make breakfast (3 egg whites, 1 egg yolk, 1 piece of dry whole-wheat toast, 1 Sugar Free Rockstar, 1 piece of fruit)
5:45am – Review banking and stocks. Anything that needs to change by the opening bell? Set up the order if so. 1st look at email, and reply to anything that is time-sensitive (note: while some people choose to sleep with their phones by their bed, I think this is destructive to natural rest patterns. I don’t check email at night, and wait until I am out of my room and downstairs to start in the morning).
6:30am – Go on morning bike ride. Distance will vary depending on morning schedule, but usually 20 to 40 miles. It might be tough to get going, but after the fact, I have never regretted starting my day with exercise. Sometimes I listen to music, but usually I don’t and prefer to be with my thoughts while biking around the Santa Monica Mountains.
9:00 am – Sitting at desk, review reports from client accounts that were created overnight. Anything that I need to take action on right away? If so, execute or assign the task. I also open up my to-do list that I created in Word from the prior day, and prioritize as necessary. Review personal social networks (usually Facebook, Twitter and Strava) and post anything I feel is necessary, then close them. (I think that leaving personal social networks open is like sleeping with your phone next to your bed…it creates an artificial sense of urgency and anticipation that is destructive to normal work flow).
9:00am to 12:30pm – Morning work. I don’t allow my email to pop-up or chime, which breaks up creative flow, but I do check it at regular intervals.
12:30pm to 1:00pm – Usually I take a short lunch, and will eat at my desk or take a walk outside. I use this time to call my wife and say hello, or catch up on personal business. If we have a client or staff lunch planned, obviously I take more time.
1:00pm to 5:30pm – Check email and social networks again upon returning from lunch. Review and execute client requests. Check in with Singley + Mackie employees, answer questions, help with strategy or execution of campaigns. I get a lot of work done in the afternoon, and this is typically when most requests come in.
5:30pm to 8:30pm – Family time. With four kids, every night is different, but it usually involves helping with homework, doing something with soccer and eating dinner with everybody at the table. Our entire family sits down for dinner together at least 5x per week, but usually we manage all 7 nights. It’s important that I focus on my family during this time, so I usually will not have my mobile phones or tablets with me unless a mission-critical project is being launched.
8:30pm to 8:45pm – Final check on email. If something needs attention I do it, otherwise, it’s time to shut the computer off.
9:00pm – Time for bed! Read a book (fiction, not business) to settle my mind, and get a good night of sleep. I always try to get enough shut-eye at night, the alternative can be very bad.
I cannot tell you that every day happens like this. In fact, the ability to be nimble and change depending on business or family needs is something that I strive for. If a client needs something important and it’s not in my “normal” work schedule, they will get it. If one of my kids calls me in the middle of the day because they are sick and need to be picked up from school, I will stop what I am doing and go get them. If my wife wants to have a spontaneous lunch date, I jump at the opportunity.
However, the bottom-line is this: a schedule can drastically increase productivity by cutting out distractions. Stay in the moment of what you are doing and who you are with instead of being anxious about what is next. Regular exercise and plenty of sleep will prepare you for the crazy and the unexpected, and will certainly keep you sharp for the everyday and the ordinary.