It's Sunday, november 19th and I'm sitting at the table in the living room of my Eat Code Kite Repeat house, feeling a little bit sick: I catched a cold, with no central heating system it can become cold at night, even in the south of Spain... Yesterday I picked up my routine again, because I've been a little sloppy with the morning part lately. Time for a strict definition.
As a solo-entrepreneur having a proper routine is very important. Especially in the beginning, you are probably the only one that actually knows how well it's going and there will be nobody that helps you or looks over your shoulder, so you better make sure you keep the ball rolling.
In the past year I have experimented a lot, but I seem to have arrived at a routine that works very well for me. I developed this routine in Lisbon, and in Tarifa I added the daily kiting to it, which works out awesome. My routine can be divided in an eat-routine (morning), code routine, kite routine and repeat routine. In this post, I will explain them in detail.
Short breaks of 5 minutes after every Pomodoro. Long break (15 min) when I feel like I need it.
In the breaks, take time to round things up, time to relax, and make a plan for the coming pomodoro
After a hard task, try something easy/light. Something I’ve done before, preferably.
Decide, commit, focus, progress —-> Choose a Pomodoro for the coming 2 hours… make a list of subtasks, and ban distractions. Do it
My EAT routine
7:00 Get up instantly
7:01 Workout, Listen some audio, meditate
This is the most important routine, because it gets me in the best state of mind to start working. I started by separating all three but after getting used to it, it's nice to save time and make the process quick and streamlined.
What workout? Doesn't matter, as long as you measure results and try to improve. This is part of the mindset. For me, exercising is not about getting stronger. It's about understanding and not forgetting the mindset of setting your own goals and achieving them, and feeling the power that comes from within, so that you can stop seeking for external powers and pleasures to lift you up.
What audio? A mix of the following, doesn't really matter, as long as you can listen to something in the breaks to wake up and send input to your mind. If you actually learn something from it, that's a huge win!
- iTunes listening books
- Spanish Audio course
- Motivational Youtube videos
- Guided Meditation, for example Headspace
- No audio, but get intrinsic message that I repeat in my head (meditate)
What Meditation? I start with being with myself by concentrating on breath. I slowly move to my body and surroundings and then I start thinking about the day. What can I achieve, today? What will make the most impact and is something I'm looking up against? Why am I doing what I do again? What is the goal? These kind of questions are the most important!
±7:45 After that, get a proper yet simple & quick breakfast, and start creating a detailed plan for the first work session. The first work-session I try to focus on the most important/hardest thing I have to solve because the morning is the moment when I'm the sharpest and will have the most willpower.
±8-10 - Open laptop, work through the detailed plan, and close my laptop again. If consciously distracted, close laptop and check in on the detailed plan again before I open it again. No matter what! It is very important to not drift away from the problem you're trying to solve.
My CODE routine
It's best to take some breaks while coding because sometimes it can be frustrating, especially when implementing hard things it can be good to take a break and return with a fresh mind.
Usually I try to do at least 3 stretches of 2+ hours with a small break in the middle.
My KITE routine
- If there's wind, go kiting
- If not, go out for a little bit and enjoy the weather
Yeah, life's simple in Tarifa. That's not me btw, but #goals.
My REPEAT routine
- Diary, evaluate, plan next day
- Work a little more, if I feel like it (it happens more and more)
- Meditate/Read/Listen books, OR...
- ...Be social, if good reasons appear (events/people)
It is important to always evaluate and think about what you've accomplished. And sleep early, tomorrow is going to be an important day!
Throughout the past year, these were pitfalls I fell into on a regular basis. Using some tools and this system, I try to avoid them:
- Getting distracted by over-analysing and over-planning. It is commonly called Analysis Paralysis. Use RescueTime and Freedom to ban out distractions. And yes, even Medium or reading books can be a distraction.
- Getting distracted by social media & e-mail: Again, I use Freedom to block it all out during deep work.
- Getting distracted by my phone: I bought a Nokia 3310 2017 edition to get rid of this completely. I still have the urge to get back on my old phone when I see it lying around, so I usually hide it so I don't see it and stop thinking about it.
- Loosing faith in your startup: It can be hard some times. Things can (seem to) progress incredibly slow, and especially when you don't have a product out there yet, it can be daunting to work full-time on something alone without seeing results or getting feedback for long periods. The morning routine is great for keeping this from happening. If it still happens, it can be great to have a clear long-term plan and a well-defined unique value proposition and unfair advantage. Getting these things back in the top of your mind can boost your confidence.
- Having too many goals and overwhelm yourself By having one focus and one goal every week I try to keep my life as stress-free and simple as possible. You can't improve at all things at the same time, although improving your physical fitness and your mental fitness go very well together.