My friends occasionally ask how I keep a mostly even keel despite the pressures of an industry that needs to do more with less, and how I’ve managed to complete an intense workout every day for more than 1234 consecutive days.1
Juggling the myriad responsibilities of an executive role while still making time for personal growth and family can feel overwhelming.
As a Chief Product & Technology Officer at a Fortune 500 company, every day brings a combination of creative thinking, strategic planning, team collaboration, and personal development. Time management is essential to tackle this diverse workload. This guide shares the schedules and routines that work for my role, which may benefit other executives or aspiring leaders. This routine is not a one-size-fits-all solution but is crafted for those in corporate leadership or those aspiring to understand this world. These routines help me be productive and maintain balance.
Every quarter I review my daily routine and make changes based on what I have learned and to better accommodate the current circumstances of my personal life and my job. Here is the Summer 2023 version of my daily routine. I share it with you in case this is helpful to you.
More days than not, I sleep 8 hours every night. I divide my day into 3 parts: morning, daytime, and evening:
Morning Rituals: 5:00 am to 8:30 am
- 5:00 am – Wake up
- make bed, put on workout clothes & Apple Watch, set up workout equipment
- 5:15-6:30 am – Full-body workout including warm up and cool down
- An energizing regimen engages all muscles and enhances mental clarity
- It’s more than just physical well-being; this hour sets a positive tone for the day, enhancing mental clarity and focus
- 6:30-7 am – Post-workout recovery
- Put away workout equipment
- drink at least 40g protein plus fruits, veggies, and greens in one or more shakes, take supplements & electrolytes replenishment
- 7-8 am – Morning hygiene & get ready for work
- bathroom, brush teeth, shower, etc. to start the day fresh
- get dressed for the day
- 8-8:30 am – Commute to workplace
- While I walk to work, I prefer to think ahead about my goals and plan for the day instead of listening to music or an audio book
Workday Plan: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
On days when meetings or specific events necessitate a change in my standard workday schedule, I make appropriate adjustments. My preference is to schedule meetings during the hours designated for collaborative work, starting at 11 am. I designed this based on the neuroscience of creativity and productivity I learned from Professor Baba Shiv at Stanford.2
- ~8:30-9 am – Plan the day
- Mapping out priorities based on desired outcomes and results rather than a to-do list balances urgent tasks and bigger goals. I wrote about this in my article titled Activities, Outputs, and Outcomes — A framework for your job
- ~9-11 am – Deep work: Strategic thinking & creative work: Protected time for innovative problem solving before meetings begin
- Free writing, brainstorming, or other creative work to spark new ideas
- Heads-down maker time for writing, editing, and deep concentration tasks
- Protected time for innovative problem solving before meetings begin
- ~11-4:30 pm – Collaborative work
- Meetings, coordinating with teams, and aligning on shared objectives. Collaborative problem solving
- I prefer to drink a 40g protein drink instead of eating lunch on most days. On some days, I do a working lunch meeting
- For 1:1s, I enjoy walking meetings, whether they are in Central Park, around the block, or even inside the office building
- ~4:30-5:30 pm – Review, reflect, and plan ahead
- Assess daily accomplishments, improvements, and lessons
- Recognize and thank team members, colleagues, and customers
- Replying to Emails: I set aside one or two dedicated 25-minute windows for email processing. It’s a strategy to avoid constant interruptions that can fracture concentration. This focused approach ensures that emails don’t derail ongoing work or meetings but are addressed in a timely manner
- Prepare for the next day
- Review schedule and set goals for the following day
Evening Wind-Down: 5:30 pm to 9 pm
- 5:30-6 pm – Commute home
- While I walk home, I prefer to reflect on the day so far and think ahead about the evening instead of listening to music or an audio book
- 6-8:45 pm – Family, friends, and personal life time, Dinner
- My son, my community, and my friends are everything to me. Spending time with them gives me life
- The world changes around us so quickly I feel the constant need to study to learn new skills, or unwind with a good book or the like
- Given my daily workout routine, I aim to eat at least 160g of protein daily
- 8:45-9 pm – Bedtime
- I aim for 8 hours of sleep nightly, so lights out between 8:45-9 pm
A daily schedule is useful for creative people
The discipline of a daily schedule has been shown to foster creativity and innovation, contrary to the stereotype that structured routines stifle originality. A consistent routine helps in carving out specific periods for focus and exploration, allowing the brain to enter a ‘flow state,’ which facilitates heightened creativity. Researchers have found that well-defined routines can reduce cognitive load, freeing mental resources for creative thinking. Innovation often requires deep concentration, and a structured schedule minimizes distractions and interruptions. Notable creative minds like Albert Einstein and Maya Angelou adhered to strict daily routines, illustrating the synergy between discipline and creativity. By harnessing the power of habit and structure, creative individuals can strike a balance between spontaneity and organization, providing a solid foundation for original and innovative thought.
The routines I’ve shared in this post are born from years of learning from others, experimenting, and fine-tuning what works best for me. They are not meant to be a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather an insight into my journey in achieving harmony between work and life.
Every one of us is on a unique path with different responsibilities and passions. These routines have helped me maintain focus on my professional goals while not losing sight of personal growth and family time. It’s a continuous learning process, and I still find myself adapting and evolving these routines. There are days when life happens and your routine is interrupted, but it’s important to keep up the habit and not miss more than a day per week if possible, if you’re not on vacation.3
If you see any part of my schedule that resonates with you, I invite you to try it and adapt it to your needs. Here’s to finding our own individual rhythm in the daily dance of life and work.
What sort of daily routine do you have? What works and what doesn’t? How easy is it to stick to it? Let me know in the comments.
- 4 Lessons This Guy Learned Working Out for 1,000 Straight Days, Men’s Health, Feb 14, 2023
- Stanford Professor Baba Shiv: How Do You Find Breakthrough Ideas?
What neuroscience tells us about getting the best out of yourself, your colleagues, and the boss.
- My friend Trace Wax, who I know through the Chief Product & Technology officer community, helped contribute to this post.