Day 69: The PERFECT daily routine
This week we’ve taken a break from the math (well statistics if we want to be exact) and have looked at some of the other things that go on when doing your PhD. Tomorrow we (may) get back to the concepts, but today let’s talk about the perfect daily routine.
Time management, the internet is littered with information on how to best manage your time. We’ve all seen them I’m sure the, “This is the daily routine of the most successful people on the planet” posts. Or my personal favorite, “How to get less hours of sleep” posts. Those are the worst, I am already a master of not getting sleep!
You want the secret to be 4397x more productive? You want to know the 5 weird tricks you can use to be a master of the universe? You want to eat these 10 superfoods that will make you more powerful than Thanos? Are you ready to take the “limitless” pill? Well have I got the answer for you, the secret within the secret… are you ready?
There is no perfect daily routine
Among other things you will find scattered to the farthest ends of the internet, you will find diet advice. Everywhere, diet advice. Do you know why you see diet advice everywhere? Well first off no one tells you what to eat, we are all taught how to hold the fork, but never what we should put on it, funny right? But the one weird truth of the matter, the one way down there that everyone sees, but no one seems to want to name is this. No one diet works for everyone and the most successful diet is the one you can stick to, as in for the rest of your life. Diet (the word) isn’t about losing weight, at it’s core, it is literally just a way to describe what you eat.
Why are we talking about this when I was going to share with you the secret to the perfect daily routine? Well because the cold fact of the matter is this, your daily routine, much like your diet, isn’t going to be the same thing that works for me. It’s something that you need to determine for yourself.
Now that isn’t to say that you can’t find people knowledgeable about diet or daily routines to help speed up the process, after all I was a personal trainer for years and gave out helpful tips to make your diet the best it could be, that that was individual specific advice. There is no one framework that you should use, but you should play to your strengths
Are you a night owl, an early bird, or something else?
Now that I’ve blown the lid off this secret, let me give you some general advice to help you come up with your daily routine. After all, I’ve had so many (way too many) years to create mine and you learn a few general tips along the way that you wish you had known at the start to make things easier. Don’t worry, I’m in a sharing mood.
First, figure out when you are most motivated in the day to get actual work done. Are you a night owl, an early bird, or something else? For me, I am most definitely somewhere in the middle. I enjoy staying up late, or rather I don’t get a choice in the matter, my brain doesn’t like going to bed early no matter what I do. However, I am also definitely not an early riser. My work day starts best in the afternoon. Before that and I’m just too foggy to get anything done and in the evenings I’m just too mentally exhausted to get any work done. So for me, I try to get up, get my breakfast, and start my day about 11am or so. That is when I’m at my best and as a bonus I can take a lunch break almost dead center of my work day, which brings me to point two.
Second, especially if you are in academia, do not attempt to work 8-10+ hours a day 7 days a week. It’s tempting, trust me I’ve been there and I’ve done that. Here in the US especially we’ve been told to work until we drop dead (no seriously people have died while working, wtf). That isn’t the route to being productive. For me, 4-6 hours max is my sweet spot. That’s actual work mind you, not messing around on twitter or looking at cat videos on youtube. That is your, “I’m going to get work done” time, use it for that purpose and nothing else.
Third, space it out if you need to. Creating your work schedule is by no means saying you should do it all in one block. Like I mentioned earlier, I take a lunch break in between, but your mileage may vary, so find out what works best for you. Maybe you work best in 1 hour intervals spaced between the day, do it. Maybe you like to work from 6pm-12am, hey if that is when you are most productive, more power to you! Don’t be ashamed because you work better using a different schedule from the societal norm. People are not nearly as productive as they could be, you should work smart.
Fourth, yesterday I spoke about hobbies. Find your own and set some, what I like to call, “lazy goals.” These are milestones for your hobby that you want to accomplish, for myself over the summer I like to play a video game and beat it, this is usually done over the course of a month or so and while it seems silly to set goals for yourself to be lazy, sometimes you need to in order to make sure you get your mental health time. The thing is, we seset all these productivity goals for a reason, it lets us make sure that we are getting somewhere, why not apply the same thing to your hobby? The best part is that while these are milestones, they aren’t life or death so you don’t need to stress about it if you miss them, but if you are missing several of your lazy goals, then you should probably take a step back and figure out if you’re working too hard, you don’t want to burn yourself out.
The point is to find what works best for YOU not to copy what works best for me.
Lastly, just like a diet, a good daily routine is something you can stick with forever. However, just like a diet, that doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) change it. It just means that you should make sure it is something you are personally okay with. Me, I love carbs, so I would never be on a keto diet. I also cannot stand a 9-5 work schedule, so I would never do that either. That doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind one day, maybe pasta will lose it’s allure and maybe a 9-5 will give me more structure in my life. I don’t know. The point is to find what works best for YOU not to copy what works best for me.
The only advice that most definitely applies to everyone is to take some time off, 1 – 2 days a week minimum or you will most likely burn out. Don’t believe me, look at professions where you are working non-stop side eyeing the medical profession it doesn’t work.
This is all flexible advice too, somedays I just KNOW I cannot get anything done. That’s okay, I give myself two days off a week minimum so I move my work days around accordingly. Don’t feel bad for having off days, we all do. The important thing is that you take a step back from your work and find the best path to hit your milestones, who cares if you didn’t follow your daily routine exactly to the letter, you are most definitely not a robot!
So there it is, the big secret is there is no one answer. Now go off and figure out what works best for you and don’t let anyone (or even me) tell you it is the wrong way to do the work!
Until next time, don’t stop learning!