How To Organize Your Day (part 2) 4 Ways To Structure Your Workday

by Sep 27, 2021Self Care & Lead

My workdays vary and I cannot really say it’s easy to plan everything. Some problem may come up in the middle of my most busy day. Sometimes I am not in the mood. Etc.

But, I have detected at least 4 ways to structure my workdays, that I want to share with you today so you can also understand better how I organize my day.

Starting work ≠ waking up

I differenciate the moments I wake up with the moment I start to work.

It’s about 8:15am in Vietnam and I am starting to work. But I’ve already been up since 6am.

My body is energized and ready to get things done as I had the time during the past two hours to meditate, to write on my blog and to eat breakfast. (Cf. part 1 on how I organize my day)

Honestly, this hasn’t always been that way…

“I used to wake up, light a cigarette, get a coffee and start to work. And I was happy!”

But the difference between these two routines is that I stopped to put my work above myself.

The first time someone made me realize this, I didn’t want to believe it: “me? putting my work before myself? I’m an entrepreneur, come on’! I own my agenda and I am free of anything!” (that’s how I’d view myself…)

But then, after I accepted to take a closer look at “my day” and studied my daily habits… And what I found is that I would never take the time to pause to take care of myself and I would rarely separate work from my personal life.

The gap between my ideal day and my current reality was too different. I was disorganized and would have productive peek then weeks of procrastination and probably constant stress.

That is why, today my morning routine is 2 hours of “me time”, with myself, taking care of my body & mind before getting to work. After realizing how messy my day was, I decided to reorganize it.

And it’s beneficial for my work performances too.

TIPS: I recommend two books if you too, you are realising that your work is taking over yourself. Atomic Habits and My Morning Routine.

Atomic Habits helped me to stop smoking as I viewed this so called “addiction” more as a stack of reversible bad habits.

And My Morning Routine helped me understand that between your bed and your desk, most successful people implement some rituals that help them transition and make them enjoy their mornings so much that they wake up eager to get things done.

And both books combined is perfect for long term results. You start to make small improvements valuable for your entire life (instead of motivation peaks that last only 2 weeks).

Preparing for Tomorrow, Today.

When I get to work, the first thing I do is to take 15 minutes to update myself. So I look at my notes from the previous day, what happened and what we’ve done. I check what’s on today’s agenda. Normally this has been prepared the day before so I don’t discovery it for the first time on the spot.

To review my work at the end of my workday and prepare the next day takes no more than 15 minutes usually. Maximum 30 minutes.

I would check what I did today, it helps me to remember what is left to be done and also I’m eager to realize all the progresses I’ve made. I can have some time to thank my teammates for their help and get ready for the next day.

To prepare my tomorrow, I create a task in my agenda called “status MM-DD” where I put:

  • The plan of the day (written the day before)
  • Todos (that I can modify during my day)
  • Review of the day. And it’s when I usually create a new “status MM-DD n+1” to write done what’s todo on the next day.

In the end, it’s usually 6:30pm. It’s time for dinner and turning off my computer. The rest of the evening is for my family, my friends and for me. As I usually go to bed at 9:30-10pm, it’s a good 3+ hours window of “me time”.

How I Eat My Frog to Start my Workday?

The concept of “frog” task comes from a book I read about task management called “Eat That Frog” from Brian Tracy. If you are looking for better ways to prioritize your tasks and organise your days, you should read it.

So the idea is to “eat the frog” first. Brian Tracy consider that in your day, you have many tasks to get done and that you will (anyway) procrastinate. So he applies Pareto’s law and find “the frog”: it is the one task accounting for 20% of the tasks but bringing 80% of the outcome.

The frog task here is my most important task, not necessarily the most appealing one. But definitely the one that will make my day moving forward and brings me satisfaction once it is done.

So, if you eat your frog first thing in the morning, you have accomplish 80% of your goals in one single task. Pretty powerful.

So usually, such task vary (which is great). But I make sure I identify it and do my best to do it first.

On a side note, from a French perspective, eating a frog isn’t that bad ;)! I’m sure Brian Tracy didn’t know how to cook it… that’s it!

I Take the Time to do Reportings

Meetings, difficulties, successes, arguments, ideas, etc. I take the time to write them down and transform them into something reusable for the future.

It can serve many purposes… let me describe 3 reasons why I believe it’s essential to write down reports and summaries of how you spend your time in the office.

Remembering everything important

The best example is during a meeting. We usually go through different topics for 30 minutes to 1 hour. If you don’t take notes, how can you remember what we’ve said?

And to people who tell me they can remember, I want to believe them. But the efforts it will take them to remember what we talked about 3 weeks ago is a waste of energy compared to all the other more important things they should focus on…

When you write down something, you don’t have to remember it. But the most important is to make sure that what ever you write is something actionable.

Taking action to stop losing precious time.

This is the most important: you want to write down anything that you learn or will help your team to move forward.

In a meeting, I make sure that if we spend 90% of the time discussing ideas, then we keep the 10% left to extract something actionable that we can all become accountable for. That way your brainstorming isn’t pointless and your ideas serve your mission.

Stop arguing about who is right or wrong.

I played this game of “who can remember the best” with my previous business partners and even with my wife today. It’s always pointless and leading to impossible situations.

At work especially, you want to avoid spending time arguing who is right or wrong. It’s counter productive.

You could spot someone seeking for power by measuring how much energy this person spends on proving that he or she is right:

“I remembered correctly!

  • Great, you want a medal?” (best way to start a fight lol)

I always go back to the basic reason why we’re here: we are all working to solve a client’s problem and because we have a mission.

The client doesn’t really benefit from having people arguing for power, but clearly benefit from having a team who is action-oriented and collectively hustling to solve his problem.

I’ve realized that it’s important to value your time as much as you say your time is important. So writing reports helps me to stay focus on the target, take actions in that direction and remember everything important.

I Take Regular mini-breaks

I try to take 5 minutes breaks at least every 30 minutes OR if not possible 10 minutes every 2 hours. It depends on the task, not on the clock.

Regular breaks are important. It’s helping me to deep-focus during my production time.

During these breaks I walk, stretch and get off my screen. I usually eat a fruit drink some water and because we work from home I can exchange a few words with my wife.

And I try to eat at regular hours. For example, lunch is at 12pm. I usually take 1h30 of break (if I can). During that break it’s time to reconnect with my wife, do some household chores and relax. I don’t have any specific plan here. The only goal is to disconnect from work and my daily problems and focus on my food, my family, etc.

I try to have a balanced day:

  • 8 hours of me time
  • 8 hours of work
  • 8 hours of sleep

Thank you for reading until the end!

Every morning, after my meditation 🧘🏽and my breakfast ☕️, I sit at my desk for one hour and write answers to my own questions, as an entrepreneur ✍️. Then I publish it on this blog, hoping to help other entrepreneurs to find answers to their questions too. And this, no matter your “level”.

To participate, ask me questions on social medias @nicolasthanhg (click on the icons below). I may answer directly or write an article about it.

Now, you can also go back to the blog page and search for articles related to your scope of interest. 🔍

Have a good day,
Nicolas Thành