Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Productivity 101: Power of a "boring" structured day

Recently many of my friends started asking me questions about my habit of rising early at 5 am. After that they'd continue inquiring about how the rest of my day looks like. To many of them, regular habits and early rising seems impossible... and they claim it's boring and not spontaneous...


So I wake up at 5 am. And I don't have to. Nobody makes me.

As I wrote before (even recorded a video about it) I wake up at 5 am on weekdays (on weekends I usually sleep a little longer). Why am I doing that? Because I can start my day early and get a lot done before my wife and my daughter wake up.

Was it easy? No. Hell no. I'm not a morning person. I used to love staying late... but when I found out that between Midnight and 2 am time passes by without me doing anything productive... or anything at all... just staring at the TV... I decided to switch patterns and wake up early.

Here's how my day looks like

5 am - wake up call - a cup of coffee and I'm at my computer cranking the first tasks I planned the day before
7 am - two hours into work... time to reward myself with a gym time  - sport is good :-)
8 am - after around 45 minute gym time and a shower, my ladies (my wife and my daughter) wake up and it's time to prepare some breakfast and get my baby-girl dressed (love spending mornings with my daughter)
9 am - Au pair comes to take care of my baby and my wife goes to work (she has a J.O.B.)
9 am-10 am - email, twitter and Google Reader time
10am - 2 pm - work again, mainly Nozbe and the new app we're cooking (in the meantime snack)
2pm - lunch
3pm - 5pm - work, meetings, blog posting, whatever I feel like doing
5pm - Au pair is gone - it's time for me to play with my baby girl again and spend time with my wife.

Rest of the day is totally up to us :-) I go to bed around 11 pm.

A structured day is not boring, it's empowering. Being in control is not boring... it's powerful!

None of my days looks the same... but I'm trying to make sure that most of my days start the same. That's the difference. Thanks to this early start I get to work early and get to do some sports before the day starts for anyone else. Because I work from home I decide what to do an when to do it... (after writing this post I'll go play some pool as a reward for myself)

What if something like this is not for you?

Of course it is. If I can do it, anyone can. And I'm telling you it's not easy. But it's great. As David Allen the GTD guru says - being in control is fantastic... and doesn't make you boring... it makes you powerful and makes every choice of yours a conscious choice. Good luck!

P.S. There is a key secret here - don't be so hard on yourself. Do you think that every day my first two hours of work are ueber-productive? Do you think that every day I work I get tons done? Not really. We're just humans and we have good and bad days... but the structure I've created helps me get more good days than the bad ones.

What does your day look like? What's your secret recipe for a productive day? 

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Zen To Done - 30 days to get a habit - early rising and blogging

It's been almost a month since I started waking up at 5 am in the morning to start off my day with at least 2-3 productive hours before my ladies (my wife and my 10-month baby daughter) woke up. It's been more than 2 weeks when I started blogging regularly and if you're a subscriber to this blog you know that I only rest on Sundays. Other than that, I blog every day and I love it.


It all started after I carefully read the ZTD (Zen To Done) course by Leo Babauta where he explained that it's impossible to develop all the habits we want at once. Instead we should focus on one habit at a time and try it for 30 days and later pick up another one.

I'm not that patient - I bent the rule to two weeks, I'm sorry Leo.

See, I'm not a patient man. I want to be and feel better right now. So I bent the rule a little and started introducing new habits as soon as I felt the old ones are already more-less put in place. This resulted in 2-weeks intervals of introducing habits.

4 weeks ago - Early riser waking up at 5 am every morning

OK, it wasn't that easy. I'm not an early riser by design, I used to go to sleep at 2-3 am. But I managed to change that and I finally got the support I needed from my family, too.

My waking up time depends when I go to sleep, so when I went to sleep around midnight, I'd wake up at 6 am, but I'd try to go to sleep around 11 pm to be able to wake up at 5 am. Most of the time I succeed. The best part is, that right now I'm used to waking up early and I get really productive in the mornings with all my email, IM, Twitter etc. closed, focused only on tasks I planned the evening before. I sleep on average 5-6 hours per day and on weekends I sleep around 8 hours so I guess it's pretty good for my body too.

To learn more about my new early riser habit, watch this short 2-minute video.

2 weeks ago - blogging every day about stuff that matters (for me at least)

I always wanted to blog more and I felt I always had something to share with the community... but never got to it. It was too much work maintaining my Nozbe blog, Productive Magazine blog and Productive Show blog. So what did I do? I went with the easiest blogging platform possible - posterous - I just send emails to my blog and they are being converted into blog post.

It's really easy - I just have to write one more email message each day. And this one's to my blog. It usually takes me between 15-30 minutes. And when someone posts a comment, I reply via email too! This way I totally eliminated the psychological barrier to blogging for myself and after two weeks I keep on writing blog posts. Cool!

Now what? Let's start running! I want to start jogging now.

Did I put on weight recently due to lack of sports? Check. Did I always want to be a runner but never got to it? Check. Did I buy a red iPod nano with Nike+ for my wife and myself? Check. Do  I have a nice big park near my house where I can run? Check.

So what's stopping me? Nothing. I'm going to start running next week. Just after we've moved into our new apartment near a beautiful park, perfect for runners. It's time to lose some weight and get in shape now that the winter is coming. Fingers crossed - wish me luck!

Start your 30 or 14 day trial on one habit now! Start today!

That's right, if I can wake up at 5 am and blog every day, it means it's really doable, so you can do, too. Take the 30 day trial if you have the patience or 14 days if you feel confident enough. Remember, one habit at a time and you're good to go! Godspeed!

Question: Which habit did you want to cultivate but never got to doing it? What do you want to start with? Why not today?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.