My typical day

Inspired by Anton Sten’s post on the same topic I wanted to share what my day looks like. Seems it’s a twitter trend originally, and I think it’s a valuable exercise. Both thinking about one’s own day and learning from others.

Because I lift heavy weights and have a history of insomnia I have quite a strict schedule for routine things like eating and sleeping. My days looks mostly like below, but I only work out 3 days per week.

07:00 – I wake up from my Apple Watch buzzing. I stretch and get out of bed. You can’t snooze and sleep well with insomnia, so I haven’t since I was a teenager.

07:00 – 09:00 After I get up I weigh myself on my WiThings scale. I’ve done this for years now, and it’s a good way to track if I’m eating and sleeping right. I only care about the body fay percentage.

After that I have coffee, maybe walk around the block, and if I’m not exercising I have a shower, ending with 30s of cold water. Final step of my morning process: meditating 15 minutes.

Then I catch up on notifications and read if anything catches my eye, which something usually does…

09:00 – 12:00 This is my main work block. I try to avoid meetings during this time, but my current client has a bunch of checkins so there’s at least a morning standup. I usually check my calendar, make sure I haven’t planned too many todo’s, and simply start whatever is most pressing.

12:00 – 12:45ish Lunch break, this is my first meal of the day. I try to keep it light as I tend to get really drowsy in the early afternoons, but since this is a workout day, I eat about 800kcal. Carb and protein split at around 50/50.

This is also when I have my last coffee. Can’t drink coffee in the afternoons and still get a good nights sleep sadly.

13:00 – 15:00 My second work block. This is usually meeting time, or email time, or both.

If I’m not cautious and get to sedentary during lunch, there’s a risk I get drowsy and end up doom scrolling twitter at this point. I’m not proud of it, I just haven’t found a solid fix for this yet.

15:00 – 17:00 It’s time to head to the gym before it gets too crowded! I used to go later in the day, but the pandemic imposed severe restrictions on people per square meter, so I learned to leave early. 15:00 has been my approximate time the past few months. Though I expect meetings in the fall will start pushing this later in the day.

17:00 – 17:45 Time to eat again, and then shower. This meal is usually quite obscene, as I need to eat 160g of protein in a day (which is a lot). I eat something like 1000kcal in this meal. Unless we’re not having popcorn later, because if we don’t I need to push it into at least 1500kcal.

18:00 – 19:00 My final work block. I finish up lose threads, or replan the things I didn’t get to. Usually I’m quite tired at this point, so I’ll do less creative things and focus on simple tasks.

19:00 – 21:00 My life partner and I will relax together. Usually eating a ton of popcorn and watching something, or listening to a podcast.

Lately we’ve been exploring classic cinema, and I’m happy we’re no longer participating in the gotta watch all the latest shows frenzy.

21:00 Time to get ready for bed. My sleep schedule is really strict, as a slight deviation can leave me with several days of bad sleep.

21:30 I read for about an hour before falling sleep. I tend to become really into either fiction or non-fiction for periods. Currently I want to read all the Harvard Business School strategy books, but because I’m on “vacation” I’m forcing myself to read fiction. Loving Bonjour Tristesse and A Moveable Feast though.

22:30 Lights out.

Write it down

I’ve been practicing documenting every decision and piece of information that might be of interest for the last few years with clients. It has lead to increasingly asymmetric impact just because the stuff I work on stays around for longer. And is therefore valuable to the organisation for longer, even when I’m not there anymore.

But I have just found the best example of how powerful it is when people write down institutional knowledge: The GitLab Handbook… It’s a mind-blowing tome, some 13000 pages of highly actionable insights and information tid bits like this:

Don’t wait. When you have something of value like a potential blog post or a small fix, implement it straight away. Right now, everything is fresh in your head and you have the motivation. Inspiration is perishable. Don’t wait until you have a better version. Don’t wait until you record a better video. Don’t wait for an event (like Contribute). Inventory that isn’t released is a liability since it has to be managed, becomes outdated, and you miss out on the feedback you would have received had you implemented it straight away.

The GitLab Handbook

Do you realise how powerful this is? How much time just writing things down could save you in the aggregate?

Don’t wait. Start writing things down today.

(incidentally, I’ve been working on a service for networked thought specifically to solve the issue of taking more valuable notes. It’s not ready yet, but if you’re interested you can find it here.)

Life commitment exercise

I happened upon this amazing motivational speech by Stelli Efti earlier today. It’s a short video about what committing really looks and feels like, ending with a short exercise. Listening to it I felt inspired and shared it on twitter. To my great surprise Steli actually replied:

After someone as busy as Steli took the time to kick me towards better prioritisation, I felt like I needed to try the exercise. And you should do it with me!

1. Write down what you’re doing

List your commitments and projects. All the areas of life where you spend your time. Don’t get into the details, but list them out. Start with family and occupation. Stop when you get to that instrument you haven’t touched in a year.

2. Sort into two categories: commit, or participate

Commit is where you are really commit. Where there’s no plan B, you’re gonna do it or fail. Not failing slow, not letting things fizzle out. Commit is where you need to do it.

Participate is where you’re going through the motions a bit. You’re showing up but there’s always a side track, always an escape route. Maybe it’s something that doesn’t crash if you stop for a week. Maybe it’s more of an intention than a must?

3. Ask yourself the hard question

Are you really committing to what you want out of life?

My result was, just like Steli said, really insightful. In short I’m not truly committed to anything except my family.

All of my projects right now are all full of plan Bs and safety nets. I’m not committing, failing, and learning. I’m more wandering around and exploring safely. Lazily drifting from interest to interest…

Now that I know this. I should just pick one, and commit. Making hard choices is a lot easier when you’ve got some perspective on why you need to make them.

Thanks Steli.

Living fully committed

Listening to Steli Efti talk about avoiding having a half-assed life by committing fully to whatever we’re doing. Being ready to give it our all, not hedging the bet, and letting something fail if it doesn’t work out.

It’s a powerful message, and I’m feeling very inspired to be less distracted and hedge less. The idea ties together really well with Derek Siver’s axiom Hell yeah or no.

Here’s the original tweet Steli is talking about:

Increasing your output by saying No

I don’t always agree with Ryan, but sometimes he comes up with golden insights, and this was one:

if you’re unhappy with your output, say “no” to things that don’t increase productivity.

Ryan Kulp

Brilliant in its simplicity. It’s so much easier to remove distractions, than to increase discipline. So much easier to try to do less things well, than to become a master at them all.

Adding creativity like Nintendo

I read this wonderful article by Matthew Ball about Nintendo and how they differ from Disney in their approach to leveraging IPs. It’s an interesting read and if you have half an hour to spare I recommend it. But in the middle of the article was with wonderful tidbit:

Creator Shigeru Miyamoto actively requires development teams to reinvent the franchise. Following the success of the first entry, a top-down action adventure game, Kotaku reports that Miyamoto-san told “the team—not the Zelda 1 team, but an entirely different team—that he wanted to make a side-scrolling action game where the player had to attack with, and defend against, high and low attacks.”

To be clear, this approach is why Nintendo is so spectacular.

Matthew Ball

If you don’t already know Mr Miyamoto is the legendary creator behind both the Mario and Zelda franchises, his creative works are second too none. I find this little legend especially interesting because Miyamoto is deliberately adding constraints instead of reusing the same tried and true pattern. Even though this is a huge financial risk.

When was the last time you did something deliberately harder?

I don’t think I’ve deliberately thrown away working patterns in my designs at any time. Definitely not in the last five years. I’m intrigued to find out what happens if I try it.

Using herd mentality to your benefit

You notice it every week; how suddenly everyone seems to be talking about that same thing. A new trend. A new thing, having its moment. But how often are these trendy topics valuable?

Now I don’t know this for a fact, but over the years I’ve noticed that trendy things are rarely, if ever, very useful. The trend usually preempts the usefulness. The real work begins when the trend is at its peak. Only after that do people discover, through trial and error, how to actually do the thing.

It will probably take a year or so until they turn around and can teach the rest of us how to use this, no longer trendy, topic in our own work.

This is good news. I think we can use this for our advantage. When I see something interesting I’ll simply write it down, and then google it a year later. By then the experiments will have been run and I can learn from the results. All that time I’m not wasting keeping up with the trend I can use to study and experiment on my own stuff.