Time management is important but I find it just as important to manage our energy throughout the day. Good energy allows you to think more clearly, make better decisions and puts you in a better mood throughout the day. In order to harness that energy, I try to experiment with different routines for many years. The optimal routine changes with the season and my interest. This post is about the routine that is working well for me now and what I have learnt as I experimented.
Being Intentional In Your Routine
Have you ever grabbed your phone to check something on Google, then you get led down a rabbit hole? Just the other day, I watched "The Founder"on Netflix. I've got a habit of reading the wiki page of the film once I am done watching the movie, because I like to read about the Production and Reception of the movie. Then I clicked to read more about Ray Kroc. Then I clicked to read more about the McDonald brothers. Before I know it, 20 minutes have gone by. I've completely diverged, and gone down the rabbit hole of wiki. This happened to me when I wasn't being mindful. If how we spend our time determines our day, how often are we mindful of how we spend our time? Being conscious of my weekday routine has helped me be mindful about the amount of sleep and downtime I am getting.
My Routine Now
Right now, Japan is still under the State of Emergency so I have been working from home. My hours are from 8 am - 6 pm, sometimes with night calls. My routine changes all the time, it really depends on the season, the weather and my interests at the point in time. This is an average day during the work week for me now:
5.30 am Wake up 6.00 am Work out 6.45 am Shower 7.40 am Breakfast. Listen to a podcast while I drink my coffee. 8.00 am Work starts 6.00 pm Work ends and I clean the house and shower 7.00 pm Dinner, watch an episode of comedy over dinner 8.00 pm Watch an episode of whatever TV show I'm hooked to now 8.50 pm Journal 9.00 pm Head to bed, read 9.30 pm Sleep
Sometimes I sleep later at 10 ish if the chapter of the book I'm reading is really good.
I am extremely intentional about my downtime. This means I plan what I want to do in advance, and I look forward to those moments. There are 3 benefits of planning for downtime.
You will be very disciplined with how you use your time at work. You will find the most effective methods to accomplish results during the designated working hours...so that you could enjoy the downtime you've planned for.
You are intentional with your downtime, so it means you've planned what you want to do in advance, for example watching one episode of your favorite TV show. Type A folks will feel a sense of accomplishment checking that off.
You won't see rest time as mindlessly surfing on your phone, so you won't go down the rabbit hole. Your brains don't get any rest going through all the on-screen chatter. I'd make time for messaging and social media use, but I limit the time because I don't feel productive.
Meditation Didn't Work For Me
I read that meditation enhances focus and productivity, so I've experimented with Headspace for a couple of months. I've tried doing it first thing in morning. Then I tried it during lunch, or right before bed time.
Unfortunately, I don't think I've reaped much benefits. I just feel more pressed for time, like I could use those 10 minutes to read my book or an interesting article. There are too many times I find myself wishing I could be doing something else. I think I am doing it all wrong, but I don't feel that I am better off with meditation. After three months of trying, I omitted meditation from my routine.
If meditation is to help one feel more calm, I find that doing yoga helps.
Carving Out Time to Write
I used to write first thing in the morning. I'd write, and then dive straight to work. However it made me tired because I was sitting at the desk so much. For now, I'd start my day with a workout instead and I'm still experimenting to see when might be the best time to write.
TV is Not a Time Waster
I love to unwind by watching TV after work. I highly disagree that watching TV is a waste of time. Good TV shows allow you to experience a story and see things from character's point of view. I also find TV shows can be educational. Finishing an episode gives me a sense of accomplishment.
If you ask me what's the biggest time waster - it is still mindless surfing on the phone. Your brain going on auto-pilot and you are just clicking for the sake of it.
Then again, it all boils down to the individual isn't it? There are people who spend endless hours in front of the TV, just watching one show after another mindlessly.
I guess the conclusion is nothing in particular will suck your time if you don't allow it to. It's what you choose to give your time to. So...how does your routine looks like?