I’ve been living like a hobo for four years. And while you’d think I’d be used to it by now, this year brought with it many challenges and a lot of change in all aspects of life — change which I allowed to wreak havoc on the habits and routines that once served me so well.
Professionally, a pivot and some restructuring were also in order. And suddenly, that freedom — and I use the word lightly because it’s bollox — I worked so hard for began to wreak havoc on my mind.
I had too much shit going on—too many decisions to ponder and too much stress arising from it all.
I also internalized it, making matters significantly worse.
With a mini-crisis going on in my mind, my routines and habits fell by the wayside. And the more I tried, the worse things got.
Everything was fucked, or so it seemed, so I picked up Mark Manson’s new book in search of some hope. And hope is what I found.
He wrote about the routine assassin that is Kant. Let’s not consider the fact he was depressed and miserable his entire life—you spend your days trying to answer the big questions while explaining them to dumb people and see how you turn out?
It was Kant’s routine that piqued my interest. It reminded me of a simpler time—a time when I had my own routines locked down and working in my favour.
Kant’s routine ran like clockwork. He ate, worked, shat, and exercised at the same time every day. Day in. Day out. With very little divergence or distraction.
He did not allow the decision-making process to wreak havoc on his mind.
This gave me a flashback to my time in Vancouver. It was there where — for the first time really — I created some solid habits and routines that had a real positive impact in my life.
I even turned to Sarka and said, “you know what? I actually miss working in an office.”
She looked at me flabbergasted and — ultimately — very concerned she’d be saying goodbye soon, knowing she would have to call my parents to disclose the truth, which could very well result in me being placed in a mental institution.
And having just worked out of my friend’s office in Edinburgh for an entire two days, I stand by what I said. I think a lot of people who are remote or on the run struggle with this also?
While I didn’t care for my job in Vancouver, I had a routine that worked. Really well.
I’d be on my yoga mat in class at 6.30 am and sat at my desk with a coffee in hand for 8 am. And I’d be out of there by 4 pm.
In terms of work, rest, and play, from 4 pm every day, I could do whatever I wanted to do. Work, rest, or play? It didn’t matter. I felt great. I was fit and healthy, and I had a clear head with minimum stress —which is exactly how it should be.
And yet as a freelancer — or whatever I am — this freedom or autonomy which I worked so hard for wholly fucked with me.
I’d get up early, but I’d still somehow manage to be working on my laptop late at night.
In between, I was kind of all over the place. It really didn’t matter. But it did. Because when I was trying to relax, I was thinking about when I’d find the strength to pull my laptop out again.
I was procrastinating. And as with all bad habits, it was a gradual yet slippery slope—one which I eventually slid off the edge.
Which, apparently, is the only place I’m capable of learning a fucking lesson.
So, how do you develop a daily routine that works for you?
First of all, you figure out what’s important to you, what you value, and what works for you. And you stop trying to emulate others with different values and interests just because someone wrote or made a video about them because they’re stupid rich.
You can read all the personal development articles you like, but — in a booming industry —there’s very little evidence they actually work. Because, albeit with a lot of finesse, the entire business model is built on creating problems. Not resolving them.
So, easing off on the personal development and obsessing over your routine is probably the best place to start because — more often than not —it serves as an unhealthy distraction and nothing more. Unless you have a solid foundation that allows you to play and experiment.
Everyone thinks a list of 50 things to do every day that guarantees you will be the best most optimised human alive sounds brilliant until they fuck off and try to implement it.
Stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, and suicide are all on the rise. Even more so amongst entrepreneurs. Do you think a lot of this may be from trying too hard?
Here’s what I would consider when developing your daily routine:
- Keep it simple
Simplicity will always beat complexity, yet, for some reason, we continue to complicate matters and make life way harder on ourselves than it has to be.
Exercise and diet are super important to me. And I had neglected them both. It affected me. There’s nothing complicated about it. I like to exercise first thing and not eat shit. Ever. That’s really simple.
Look to create that one keystone habit that will result in a trickle of healthy habits. Habits you won’t even have to think about creating. This has always been yoga for me. Again, I neglected it. Forgive me, Shanti, for I have sinned.
- Stop trying too hard
This is probably the biggest culprit that prevents so many from enjoying their life. Stop trying to force yourself to read every book and watch every video that will teach you something that can slip into your daily habit or routine to further optimise yourself and get more out of your day.
Think of all you can do and achieve from all the time saved from not actually doing that in the first place?
A hell of a lot.
You’ll get all your work done. You’ll get your exercise. And you can go have some fun.
- Get off your phone
Our smartphone usage is probably the worst habit all of us have. By a country mile. Trying to balance that in some way with a list of “good” habits as long as a horse’s cock makes no sense.
Get the Instagram and the Facebook and the YouTube and all the other apps that can keep you sitting on the shitter for an hour removed from your phone. Or block out one or two slots in your day where you allow yourself to use them.
Just ask yourself if your smartphone usage is having a positive or negative impact on your life? And if it’s negative, then you stand to gain a whole lot by doing something about it.
- Plan the day
This is where you can channel your inner Kant. The more you plan your day — the more you know what you’re doing and when — the fewer decisions you’ll have to make and the less stress you’ll have to deal with arising from it all.
This is your day. I get flustered when deciding what to eat for lunch. This is why I missed working in an office. It’s because my day was so much easier to plan.
Write your tasks out the night before, and you won’t be worrying about them during your sleep. You’ll be executing. And when you wake. Get up. And assassinate those bastards.
Remember: Less is more
Work. Rest. Play. And exercise. Personally, those are the four elements I need to get the most out of my day. Because it’s simple, it works. At least when I don’t complicate things, which is what I did.
I know what’s important to me. You have to figure out what’s important for you. I just have a feeling if you keep it simple, you’re going to figure it out a hell of a lot faster.
Do more of what makes you feel good, less of what makes you feel shit, and when you’re experimenting—experiment with less.
And never forget to have fun.