Idea 1: Night ritual
My highest leverage activity that I do is looking at my next day the night prior. I highlight how I will use my 6 deep work time blocks. I celebrate what I accomplished for the day and what I am grateful for. I also review what I could have done better today while visualizing myself doing it as I would have liked to.
I make sure that this review is at least 1 hour before I go to bed since the planning process tends to activate my brain and reduce the restfulness of my sleep.
Idea 2: WOOP
Plan (to handle those obstacles):
I use this framework when I am reviewing my day and also my week. I determine what is most important for me to accomplish (ideally) and then rub it against reality to determine what could get in the way. This helps me make sure that what I want to get done actually gets done.
Idea 3: Deep work time blocks
I loved how the world-class performers trained intensely for around 4.5 hours per day. The rest of the time, they were resting. I’ve played around with the ultradian rhythm of 90 minutes as a time block but it was too long for me. I modified it to be 6 time blocks of 45 minutes everyday. My baseline is 3 time blocks of deep work with the goal of achieving 6 time blocks. I design my days around those 6 time blocks. By lunch, I plan to have 3 of those deep work time blocks done. The first time block is done before breakfast and any inputs. I prioritize the highest leverage work in those earlier time blocks. If done properly, the last time block should be hard because a lot of energy was spent on the first few time blocks. As is discussed later, no electronic disruptions should be allowed during those times.
Idea 4: Big 3 x 2
Every morning (as part of my morning ritual), I come back to my ideal identity in energy, work, and love. I then highlight my current goal for that area of my life. I try to keep the goal achievable within a semester or year. This makes it more actionable. I also review what most important action I will take today that will get more closer to that goal. As a bonus, I also feel grateful for something going well in each of those areas.
Idea 5: Morning ritual
The morning frames the day. So the wins here increase the probability of other wins throughout the day. I recommend movement, meditation, day planning (including Big 3 x 2), one 45-min deep work session, and a solid breakfast in the morning to set the day.
Idea 6: Nutrition
There are so many fads out there. I now stick to high-quality whole foods. I recommend keeping a 10-hour eating window (with 3 high-quality meals) and a 14-hour fasting window. Anything more than that tends to enervate me. This is an area that is so unique to everyone so I recommend that you play around with the timings and amount of meals to see what works best for you.
Idea 7: Sleep
As far as I can remember in my adult life, I’ve had issues with restful sleep. Whenever I do have a good night of sleep (still can’t figure out what variables change when I do), I can immediate see and feel the difference.
Electronics should not be used at least one hour before bed. Avoid exercising or eating large meals within 3 hours of bedtime.
Idea 8: Meditation / Breathe
This is one where I don’t enjoy the process but enjoy the results. The goal should be to quiet the mind for at least 11 minutes in the morning before starting the day and 11 minutes in the evening before going to bed. Eleven minutes seems to be the sweet spot where we can get most of the benefits of meditating according to studies. I sometimes use guided meditations and hypnosis to make them even more powerful.
The morning meditation helps me center/ground myself so I can be more present throughout the day. The evening meditation helps me clear my mind so I can rest better.
Idea 9: Move
I recommend movement throughout the day. Exercise should be a small part of your movement throughout the day. For me, a morning walk/jog helps me be more focused throughout the day. An evening walk after dinner helps me wind down and process my thoughts. During the day, I also do a weight or stretching workout to.
Idea 10: Manage electronics
This idea supports the other ideas. Electronics are disruptive to our focus and presence. Whenever possible, I have my smartphone out of sight and touch so I can focus on the task at hand. The studies are clear that having a smartphone in the vicinity saps away our attention.
The blue light from electronics are also disruptive to our melatonin, a key hormone for restful sleep at night. Install Flux on your computers and Android smartphones. There is a native function in iPhones.
Change the settings on your electronics so you don’t receive any unwanted push notifications. Set up a Do Not Disturb schedule so you are not disturbed during your deep work sessions.