Essential Life: Luxury Routine
I’m reflecting on the month I spent in Istanbul earlier this year. I remember looking out onto the Bosphorus while simultaneously listening to the afternoon Adhan that drowns out the hustle and bustle of the harbour with its bold and beautiful proclamation of faith and worship. These are the moments that I dreamed of when I decided to create a lifestyle that would give me the flexibility to explore the world.
For the past year since I’ve been a so-called digital nomad, I’ve struggled to create a routine that would allow me to take full advantage of my newfound freedom. I’ve kept up an out-of-date work cadence that didn’t fit in with my current reality. I believed I had to work a certain number of hours during a certain time of day to be legitimate and, despite all the effort to get to this point, I actually felt guilty for partaking in such an indulgent lifestyle.
Finally, my significant other (and travel companion) called me out on this self-sabotaging behavior and I realized that it made no sense to be in these awe-inspiring places without being fully present. So when we touched down in Turkey I came up with the concept of a luxury routine:
How would I structure my day if there was no one putting demands on my time and attention? How might I get the most out of each day while balancing my various interests and commitments?
There’s a growing trend around morning routines, following the quirky schedules of historical greats, and incorporating specific practices into each day (e.g. meditation, visualization, etc). Of course, every productivity expert and lifestyle guru touts that his or her approach will lead to the perfect day and ultimately the best personal and professional outcomes. I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach so I’ve read and borrowed from many of these ideas, ultimately crafting a schedule customized for me.
I wake up to the sunlight (no alarm clock), open every window in my flat to get a burst of air, drink water to rehydrate, sip tea slowly, then do some version of the SAVERS routine as outlined in Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning. The purpose here is to do all of the self-development activities that would otherwise be neglected if pushed to later in the day.
I dedicate afternoons to taking advantage of the daylight and exploring whatever town I’m in. It feels unnatural to spend the entire day indoors under the assault of artificial lights and stale air. I particularly love long walks be it along a coast, in the woods, or in town, jumping in and out of cafes, bookstores, and galleries looking for inspiration.
My level of concentration and overall productivity surges after an energetic bout outdoors and I’m typically bubbling with fresh ideas after being exposed to so much stimuli. I use the early evening to work uninterrupted: concepting new ideas, tackling client projects, taking phone calls, scheduling my social accounts, and organizing myself for the following day.
Up until this point, I’ve had a lot of “me time” so I’m eager to fellowship with others — usually over a bottle of wine and an excellent meal — without worrying about any work that was left undone.
Six full hours a night and I’m ready for the next day.
To be transparent, depending on my timezone, level of jet lag, mood, or workload, I may not always flow through the day in exactly this order. I prefer to balance discipline with freedom and the best feature about this particular approach is that its modular structure allows for a lot of flexibility. The only restriction I try to adhere to is keeping similar activities grouped within the associated time blocks, but I can rearrange the blocks within my schedule as needed.
My routine is only an example. It is not a luxury if you attempt to force fit yourself into someone else’s way of doing things. The goal is to exercise a higher level of consciousness when it comes to planning your day and empower yourself to make the necessary changes to maximize time spent doing what you love.
Essential Life is an ongoing series about using productivity and organizations tools to focus on the things and activities that matter most.