So over the last three months, I’ve visited six different countries, within three different continents. That’s a lot of travel time! How I like to make the most of this? Well aside from working or writing, I love listening to podcasts. One of my favourite new discoveries is the Foundr Podcast which has stirred up heaps of interesting topics, got me jotting down masses of notes and then applying everything I’ve learnt to make positive changes in my life and businesses. One of the biggest take-aways I’ve learnt this month is the importance of having an effective routine and how utilising routines properly it can dramatically increase your productivity as a Digital Nomad or Entrepreneur. Which is ironic right? Because the chances are this is what we’ve actually been trying to ESCAPE: getting out of the rat-race, living life with freedom and flexibility! But that’s not to say you can’t still have it. So hear me out…
The Importance of Having a Routine In Your Life
I think it’s fair to say, as an Entrepreneur or Digital Nomad: we are pretty busy people! There is task after task after task. Not to mention making the most of whatever new destination we’re now in. Quite simply: without some sort of routine or organisation, it would be impossible to get everything done. Our routine may change when we go place to place, but it’s important we have the discipline and structure to ensure we’re making the most of our time. This means we may not have the typical 9-5 hours that you would in most full-time employment jobs. In fact, you’ll probably end up working MORE hours, but driven by passion as oppose to obligation.
Up until now, my ‘routine’ has been: a varying wake-up time, working from different places, mixing up each day however I see fit and jumping from different tasks or products. I then used to work really late and always struggle to switch off. I’d often feel like I was working LOADS but never fully satisfied with everything I got done!
Having the freedom to change our hours and change where, when or how we work: it’s actually one of the things I love the most about being my own boss. And I certainly wouldn’t want to take away from that. However, by recently creating a little more of a routine in my life (in terms of what I do every morning and every evening + how I organise my workload), I’ve found I’m able to get more done, stay more focused and drive my businesses to new levels of success!
The Routines of Successful Entrepreneurs
As Tony Robbins always says, ‘If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results…” This is not to say you can’t still be your own person and do your own thing, but you can learn a lot from others. Here’s just a small handful of some of the entrepreneurs who’s routines have really inspired me.
1. Jack Dorsey, CEO Square & Founder of Twitter
Starting off with the one that shocks me the most: Jack Dorsey takes productivity to the NEXT LEVEL! How? By splitting his time equally across two different companies, working 16 hours a day, 5 days a week. Full on right? But it’s no surprise really. Success at his level does not happen without putting the hours in, and he’s found a way to make it work for him! Jack also structures his days. So Monday’s are for Company Management, Tuesday’s are working on Product, Wednesday’s are Marketing, Communications & Growth, Thursday’s are Developers & Partnerships and Friday’s are all about Company Culture! He talks about this in a quick interview here:
This isn’t for everyone of course. And you need to find the right balance of avoiding burnout, but working as hard as you possibly can. To increase productivity as a Digital Nomad, I really like the idea of these themed days. If you have multiple income streams and different projects on the go, I’d also recommend you splitting your time each day, or even working on different projects alternate days. It’s something I’ve incorporated into my routine after watching this and I’ve found it’s really enhanced my businesses. I’m now no longer jumping from one thing to another, but have far more clarity and focus.
2. Evan Williams, Internet Entrepreneur
Sticking with the Twitter super-human successes, we then have Evan Williams. His routine is another one that fascinates me, probably because I can relate to his the most. As the founder of high-profile companies like Blogger, Twitter and Medium, you’d probably expect Evan Williams to be at work more than most of us. Particularly in the middle of the day, right? But in fact, this is when Evan takes a break from work… instead heading out to the gym! See, Evan recognises the importance of health and fitness when it comes to staying productive. But he also knows what works best for him.
My focus is usually great first thing in the morning, so going to the gym first is a trade off of very productive time. Instead, I’ve started going mid-morning or late afternoon (especially on days I work late).
This is exactly what I do. And just like Evan, I’ve found it works a treat. Breaking up the day with exercise doesn’t mean you have to work less hours, it just means you end up starting earlier or finishing later. But wouldn’t you rather shape your day how you want to, instead of being forced to work the hours you’ve been given? You’re still having far more flexibility than most people, but by having a routine like this: you’re also making sure you get that all-important work done!
For Digital Nomads on the move, it also doesn’t mean you have to have a gym membership. In fact, this is where you can create that diversity in your life, blocking out ‘exercise time’ in your day and then mixing it up. It may be a run one day, a swim another, or a bike ride another. The choice is yours, so long as you get into the habit of having that breather, getting that heart pumping and blood flowing: then you’re onto a winner!
3. Barbara Corcoran, Founder of The Corcoran Group and Shark on TV Series Shark Tank
The third entrepreneur I’d like to pick up on is Barbara Corcoran. She is a businesswoman, investor, speaker, consultant, syndicated columnist, author, and television personality…. Phew! Quite a list huh?! But she shows how you don’t have to necessarily map out your whole day to have a routine. Barbara says,
I work out for an hour on alternating days and jog to the office. At the office, I review the to-do list I made the night before. I then figure out my priorities and do those first. The day has a way of running away from you, so this makes sure the most important tasks get done.
In this video, Barbara goes one step further to talk about the real power of to-do-lists when it comes to productivity. The key you’ll see is outlining the tasks that are the most important. Not necessarily the things you want to do, or which are the most fun to do, but the tasks that are really going to drive your business forward… To be successful, you have to do these first: no matter how crappy the task may be! By also getting it out the way first, not only will it make the rest of your day seem so much easier, but you won’t have this lingering feeling in the back of your head. Destroy procrastination to say hello to new levels of productivity… it’s a no-brainer really!
From there, Barbara then maps out her day based on what’s on her to-do-list, but she always uses the same process and has that strong routine to kickstart her morning. It’s one of the best (and simplest!) pieces of advice; something that every entrepreneur should be doing. A free platform I always use for organising my tasks is Trello. On here I organise my goals for the months, broken down into weeks, and then further broken down into daily lists which I then tick off as I go along. It’s also great for juggling multiple projects and has features that enable you to share your boards with teams. This is particularly useful when you have remote teams across the world as it allows everyone to work on the same objectives and progress to be monitored all in one place.
Whether you have a very rigid routine, or a more flexible one, the key to increase your productivity as a Digital Nomad or Entrepreneur is to establish some sort of routine. You may have to play around with it at first to find the routine that works best for you. You may even have to tweak it slightly when you’re on the move and unable to stick to it exactly the same way as you would when you’re ‘in the office’ (whatever that office looks like for you!) But have fun with it, see what’s effective and what’s not. Once you find that sweet-spot, you will literally see your productivity soar, allowing you to get so much more done!
Top Tips for Creating an Effective Routine:
To round it off, here’s five top tips for creating an effective routine that will allow you to dramatically increase your productivity as a digital nomad or entrepreneur. Just remember, knowing is not enough. From there, you have to take action to really see the results. And the best time to do that is NOW!
- See Where You’re At: Before you get started on mapping out your new routine, it’s great to first assess where you’re at. You may not realise how much time you can waste, or how time-consuming particular tasks can be. By identifying these things you can find what can be eradicated (e.g. time wasted on things like social media) and what can be outsourced to free up more time in your day. Start by creating an audit, with simple app’s like RescueTime, Toggl or Calendar. Assess, see where your time goes and make positive changes from there!
- Keep it Consistent: Do the same thing every morning and every night, the same as you would washing your face or cleaning your teeth! These positive, productive habits: make them part of your daily routine and embed them so deep, you just do it naturally. The rest of your day will then be full of different tasks no doubt, but keeping the consistency for the parts you can always control (no matter where you are in the world or what you have on that day)- it’s essential.
- Self-Care Affects Productivity: However you shape your routine, understand the importance of looking after yourself and your body, because this in itself makes a huge difference in the way you work and feel. Review your ‘bedtime’ and whether you’re getting enough sleep. Make sure you’re staying hydrated… and with the good stuff! Many effective routines include drinking water in the morning- and there’s a reason for that! Try to incorporate movement and activity in your day: whether this is a workout or working to ‘work’ or what I like to do, creating a ‘standing office’ or walking whilst doing calls or work on my phone. This makes a huge difference in not only how you feel, but also how you look! Last but not least, try to really feed your body with brain power! Nutrition is just as important as everything else so take some time to look into this also, and see if anything’s missing in your diet.
Psst… A great way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine is to use this on your breaks. Jumping immediately from one task or meeting to the next may seem like a good use of your time, but it actually has the opposite effect. We need time to clear our minds and recharge which is the perfect time to go for a walk or do some exercise, particularly to break up big tasks. The human brain can only focus for about 90-minutes at a time. Without that break it’s more difficult to stay focused and motivated. It’s therefore a no-brainer to fill
- Get Ahead, Get Focused & Stay Organised: Whatever way you choose to map out your routine, you must get organised. Know what you’re doing tomorrow, this next week, the next month, so that you’re constantly pushing in the right direction. This should all tie into your long-term plan and goals. It’s also useful to set time-limits to each task to keep yourself on track. When you’re doing something, have your full focus on that (no checking your mobile in between) and keep distractions to a minimum. It’s also useful review your to-do-lists to ensure all the tasks on there are REALLY required and the best use of your time. Aside from this, when it comes to staying organised- know what you have coming up: any calls, any appointments, any travel time, any time zone changes. That way you can work around your commitments whilst still keeping some sort of structure.
- Allow Time For Flexibility: Life has a habit of throwing different things into the mix right?! And for Digital Nomads in particular, allowing a little time for flexibility is essential. That way: when you have to pop out during your core working hours, or your evening is taken up by a social gathering, you can simply move your schedule around. You don’t need to miss out on getting the things you need to do, done. But at the same time, when something comes up: you won’t have to panic you’re ‘off schedule’ and will still be able to enjoy whatever you have going on.
Have fun creating! I’d love to hear the routines you currently have, or how you’re planning on changing yours to make it more productive. Feel free to share them in the comments below.