My Productive Daily Habits

My Productive Daily Habits

If you follow my previous blog post about My Journey to Build Habits, you’ll see why I had to build solid daily habits to achieve my goals.

It’s been a journey! Years of exploring, learning, studying, and tweaks based on my own experiences helped me to build daily habits that seriously boost my productivity and wellness.

So, here’s the rundown of my daily habit categories and how much time I put into each.

🤓 Reading

Duration: 1 hour

I usually start my day with reading. I used to only read books for technology and related topics, but around two years ago, I decided to read books on different topics including Personal Growth, Business and Finance, Health and Fitness, Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Advertising.

After trying out so many different ways, I ended up breaking down my reading habits into these sections:

  • 30 minutes: Read book hacks and summaries
    • I use the Uptime app 🔗 to read one book hack a day, which usually takes 5-10 minutes.
    • I also read for 15-25 minutes per day using Headway 🔗 for more complete summaries, and I try to finish one book in less than 3 days.
    • Recently, I started using Blinkist 🔗, and I must say I’m quite impressed, particularly with their guided tutorials.
  • 30 minutes: Read my daily news and articles.
    • I read a lots of articles via 🔗, 🔗, Medium 🔗, Hacker News 🔗, Reddit 🔗, Product Hunt 🔗, etc.
    • I have collected an amazing list of RSS feeds (Yes, I am that old!) that contains engineering blogs, technology trends, news, AdTech, and MarTech, etc. I subscribed using Feedbin 🔗 and read them using Reeder 🔗.
    • I also sometimes read e-books. (I don’t like physical books! Let’s save trees 🌳) I read them cover to cover. So far, I have only finished four books in the last two years. However, after reading their hacks and summarized versions, I have decided to focus more on book summaries rather than spending significantly more time reading a full book.

Since I started reading books, I have never missed a day. It has been at least 2.5 years without missing a day reading books. I cannot believe the positive effect that this habit has had on my life.

🎯 Priority Planning

Duration: 30 minutes

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. - Stephen Covey

Usually, I kickstart my work by doing priority planning in the early morning. Typically, after I finish my reading, it is the best time for me to plan my day, review my week, assess my progress in a year, and ensure that I am on track with my five-year plans.

My daily priority planning breaks down into two parts.

  • 20 minutes: Short-term Priorities
    • Select my top two priority (🟢) tasks and one highlight task (⭐️) for the day - More on this later.
    • I define and list the remaining tasks and set their priorities with deadlines.
    • Then, I try to delegate or drop tasks that are not worth my time.
    • Finally, I pre-schedule tasks for the week and month.
  • 10 minutes: Long-term Planning
    • Review the things that need to be done in a quarter or six-month window.
    • Review my annual goals and objectives to ensure that I’m not distracted by short-term work.
    • Visualize my life in five years when I have achieved all my goals, and sense the emotions and how it would feel when I get there.

For the task’s priorities, I define them based on their impact and effort.

  • High Impact with Low Effort (HL) is my Priority 1 (🟢 P1)
  • High Impact with High Effort (HH) is Priority 2 (🟠 P2)
  • Low Impact with Low Effort (LL) is Priority 3 (🔵 P3)
  • Low Impact with High Effort (LH) is Priority 4 (🔴 P4)
  • Important, Meaningful, and Joyful (⭐️ Highlight)

Ideally, I pick my top two tasks of the day from P1 (🟢) and P2 (🟠) categories. I will try to delegate P3 (🔵) and P4 (🔴), and actively look to drop anything I can from the P4 (🔴) list.

I define the Highlight (⭐️) task because it’s usually a task I enjoy doing. If I don’t classify it as a highlight, it gets deprioritized and I never have time to do it. Having this task category for me has been very helpful because it allows me to enjoy every day and tricks the brain into improving focus! I also noticed that I get less burned out if I gradually do what I love, regardless of the priority.

🧘 Mindfulness

Duration: 30 minutes

I have tried many things to help me with burnout and depression. I work hard - harder than anyone I know in my life - and it comes at a high price for my mental health. I tried meditation, but I couldn’t make it work.

When I was reading books from Thích Nhất Hạnh (Wikipedia 🔗) who is known as the “father of mindfulness”, I discovered that Mindfulness is exactly what I needed. I incorporate what I learned from those books into my every day activities.

Here is how I break down my mindfulness habit:

  • 10 minutes - Mixed Mindfulness
    • Mix mindfulness with eating, walking, sitting, and relaxing.
    • Feeling Bored - Allowing my brain to unwind and relax without any specific activity.
  • 10 minutes - Refresh Activity
    • Practice Eye Movement (20-20-20 rule, Focus change, etc.)
    • Practice Breathing Techniques (Alternate-Nostril, Box, 4-7-8, etc.)
    • Self High-Five - An idea from “The High-Five Habit” (Amazon 🔗) book.
    • Stretching, Massage, Smile.
  • 10 minutes - Organization
    • Clean my room and keep it tidy
    • Organize my notes, files, projects, …

💼 Working

Duration: 5-10 hours

When I finished planning and want to kickstart work, I pick one of my top two tasks and start working based on the Pomodoro Technique 🍅 (Wikipedia 🔗) like this:

  • 45 minutes: Focus only on one task without any distractions.
  • 5 minutes: Take a short break to do one of the following:
    • Check emails, social media, messages, calls, etc.
    • Do a short workout or some of my mindfulness practices.
  • 15 minutes: Take a long break after every 3-4 focus work sessions.
    • Usually, do a longer workout between sessions.
    • Snack on something healthy and do my organizational work.
    • Sometimes, also take a short nap to refresh my brain if exhausted.

When I finish my top two tasks, I will try to work on my Highlight (⭐️) task, which is more fun for me and something I look forward to in my day. These days, my Highlight usually involves working on my blogs and side hustles.

After finishing my top two tasks and my Highlight task, I pick the next task from the priority list and complete it before moving on to any other task. This way, I can focus on one task at a time and avoid being overwhelmed by multitasking or context-switching.

🏃 Workout

Duration: 1 hour

Workout is a significant part of my daily habits, and it’s one that I never skip or cut corners on. I lost 45 lbs in the last three years gradually by being consistent with my daily workout routine, and I feel like a new person. My mind is fresh, and I have a lot more energy than before to achieve all my goals.

Do you work hard and skip workouts because you don’t have time? You are not alone! I’ve been there, done that! But keep in mind, when you don’t have time to take care of yourself, that’s exactly when you need to do it!

You end up wasting a lot of time when you’re low on energy, and you’re not getting the best from your brain if you’re not taking care of your body and health.

I set aside at least an hour for my workout, which is a blend of these two types of sessions:

  • Long Workout Session: 45 minutes - 1 hour
    • Monday and Wednesday: 1 hour Reformer Pilates
    • Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday: 45 minutes walking
    • Friday: 45 minutes running
    • Sunday: 1 hour Hiking or Swimming, or something different
  • Short Workout Sessions: Multiple 5-10 minutes
    • Cardio: Jumping Jack, Running
    • Strength: Squad, Plank, Pushup
    • Flexibility: Yoga, Pilates

I plan to pair or chain my short workout sessions with other types of activities, such as reading, learning, watching movies, and breathing exercises. These activities help to establish consistent workout habits.

📚 Learning

Duration: 1 hour

To keep up with technology, I need to learn constantly. That’s why I have been incorporating learning into my daily routine for many years.

Here are the different types of learning systems I use:

  • Video Training: I use Udemy, Coursera, Pluralsight, Egghead, YouTube, etc.
  • Articles and Tutorial Blogs
  • e-Books and Documentations (RTFM 😁)
  • Reviewing Open-Source Projects

I usually make a list of topics I want to learn, and then each month I choose one to kickstart my learning. I always try to work on small projects related to the topic. For example, when I decided to learn Figma, I started by designing my own logo. Similarly, when I decided to rewrite my website, I opted to use Astro.

📺 Entertainment

Duration: 3 hours

Usually, I watch TV shows or movies while eating. Here is my typical entertainment schedule:

  • 30 minutes: Breakfast with a short video.
  • 1 hour: Prepare a vegetable side dish and have lunch while watching TV shows.
  • 1 hour: Dinner with TV shows.
  • 30 minutes: Snacks or other hobbies.

I know that many people recommend against watching TV while eating because getting distracted can lead to eating too quickly or consuming more food. However, I have developed the habit of eating slowly. I have noticed that eating slowly not only helps with digestion but also naturally reduces my food intake.

🤔 Distraction

Duration: 2 hours

This might look odd to have distractions in daily habits, but when I read “Free to Focus” by Michael Hyatt (Amazon 🔗) and “Willpower Doesn’t Work” by Benjamin Hardy (Amazon 🔗), I realized that adding free time to enjoy, socialize, and play actually helps me not only to be more productive in the long run but also maintain my creativity.

I categorize distractions into the following two buckets:

  • 1 hour - Socializing, Networking, and Collaboration.
  • 1 hour - Procrastination and Wondering to Be Creative.

Having a time block in a day to socialize and network has helped me a lot in building my professional network, which has been a game changer for me in business and life.

Scheduled procrastination provides a balance between work and relaxation. This balance prevents burnout and increases my overall productivity because I become more mindful about when I choose to procrastinate.

Final Thoughts

I know organizing all these daily habits looks impossible, but keep in mind that this is the result of many years of building habits that worked for me and not an overnight plan.

If you’re looking to improve your daily habits, what I recommend is to start now and start small. Be more diligent about building proper daily habits and constantly monitor what works and what doesn’t work for you. Consistency and flexibility to change are the keys to building productive habits.

The next step after building solid daily habits is to establish a proper productivity system that helps you organize your tasks, notes, schedules, and work. In future blog posts, I am planning to talk about my productivity system and how it helps me organize my daily life.

Follow me on X 🔗 or LinkedIn 🔗 to get notified when it gets published. Stay tuned 👌