So you start your day. Tell me just start from the beginning.
So I start at, I usually wake up between about 4:30 AM and 5:00 AM. So I'm, you know, I get up, I do my pour over cause I love like really good coffee. Not only pour overs, but it has to be like the best beans you can find, which is an expensive habit, but still worthwhile. It's still cheaper than, you know, when you think about, even if it's two bucks a cup, that's less than going out to the coffee shop. So winning, yeah. Winning there. And so then I work, get ahead of everything, get some stuff done, have like clearheaded time till like 7:45 AM. Then I go out and I go running and then I come home and I don't take meetings till 9:30. So I give myself time to get ready, answer emails so that when the day starts, I don't feel behind. Because I used to start later, and it just always, there's nothing good about starting the day, feeling like it's chasing you is the way I like to say it. Like you wanna feel like you're the one going after the day.
What you've just described is just so smart. So I read something once that said, never start your day with your inbox because that's basically addressing everyone else's to do list first. And I love that concept and I since have never, I never start with my inbox. I always start with my list, which is great. But what I'm not doing is what you are doing, which is giving myself space to work fully outside of everybody else. Because even if I'm not in my inbox, the thing that always comes back to me is Slack.
Oh yeah. Yep.
Slack is like that. Like omnipresent, omnipotent, like always, always there. And even to Slack's credit, like I need to give Slack credit when I have my status up and my team really are giving me space. It's my habit. I'm the one that's like constantly checking it out of my own habitual needs. Okay. So you get up early, get yourself some coffee, you start your day, working, you shake it off, go for a run, come back and then like address the rest of the world after 9:30.
Yes. Which has been a great improvement. Like it's, I can't say enough about it. And the do not disturb. I mean, sometimes, you know, my team probably doesn't love that I do this, but I spend the majority of the day with my computer in do not disturb mode so that I only get notifications that are forced through. So that I can, you know, kind of stay focused. Unless I'm, you know, available but oftentimes kind of in my role where I'm at right now, because right. We're a growing organization. I wear a lot of hats. And so when you have to be a lot of things to a lot of people, I find that if I don't have those boundaries, then all I'm doing all day is responding to everybody else. And then what doesn't work with starting your workday at 5:30 AM is at 5:30 PM having two hours worth of, you know, emailing and more work to do, right? Like that's the other side of it is you have to stop early enough. Otherwise it's just, you know, you're working 14 hours a day and that's not fun either.
Yeah. Let's talk about what the rest of your day looks like then. So you don't take meetings before 9:30, so starting at 9:30, you open up a little bit, but you still have your notifications off. So what does the rest of your day look like at that point?
Yeah, so usually, I mean, I'm working on backing out of this, but again, it takes time having less meetings, but typically I'll have somewhere between four and seven hours of meetings a day. So then when I finish, you know, from 9:30, sometimes from 9:30, until 4:30 or five, it's pretty much all meetings with maybe like we were chatting about before we started like maybe a couple of minutes to grab like some trail mix or some scratch bars are one of my favorites cuz they have like a good protein balance in them without tasting like no one likes protein bars. Right. That's pretty much, we can all like admit that, you know, sometimes that can be a little bit difficult, but yeah, there's a lot of meetings. And then whenever I've chunks of the time in between I keep a, one of my monitors is literally just a set of lists that are today's sprint. This week's sprint. The marathon list.
I like running so I try to have these and sprints that's obviously a project management term as well. And so that way I can keep everything prioritized. So if I have a free 30 minutes, I just look over there and it's like, okay, what can I knock out now? So I'm not super communicative during the day in Slack, but I do set two 30 minute periods in my schedule to catch up on communication. So I do that in the middle of the day and the end of the day, but it's not always perfect, but it, you know, improvement step by step.
That's what I have to start doing. Someone told me the same thing where they were like, why do you ever need to check Slack more than once or twice a day? And I'm like, what do you mean? And they're like just go in there, you know, midday, clean up, whatever's coming from the morning, go away and then do it again at the end of the day and clean up whatever came in from that. And the idea feels so like utopian to me and I just don't know how to, how to get there. So what time does your day end? Like, and, you have such a nice entry into your day. Do you have a similar kind of like wrap up to your day?
Yeah, I would say the wrap up is probably a little less consistent than the start, but I even in, I don't know if it was in Atomic Habits or something. I have the like Oura ring. Also, this thing is get one of these. This is a good coach. You're like, oh man, my sleep was garbage last night. Like I need to, you know, I need to get on that. And so I think that it's easier on the start than on the end. I like my goal is to be done by five cuz obviously to wake up at 4:30 or five, you have to go to bed pretty early. So my goal is to be done by five it's usually more like 5:30 or six. And then our team is spread across several, you know, countries. And so about half of our team is based in the Philippines.
And so, you know, they come online around four or 5:00 PM my time now, typically because of our structure, I don't have to directly, you know, manage or do anything like that daily. Now I used to have to, so then I had a different schedule then, right? Like I had to start later cuz I had to work till eight or nine o'clock at night because that's just what we had to do for the time zones. And so I've had to shift it as the business evolves, but if I had my, you know, druthers the earlier wake up where you get that time where nobody else is around, I mean I'm on mountain time, so I don't get the full advantage. But you know, it works out pretty well.
A lot of my team members are on west coast and I'm on east coast. And I will say that when I, even, when I come to my computer at 8:30, there is, you know, some brief moments of solitude where, where I'm like, ah, man, this is, this is really where it's at, but it makes sense that you are getting up early to do all this work when you're spending four to seven hours in meetings a day. Like when else are you supposed to do your, your work?
That's crazy. That's crazy town.
Yeah. And it was happening at night, but then I found my sleep quality was way worse when I worked until nine or ten at night. And then somehow it's like, they're the same number of hours in the day, but it doesn't quite
Doesn't feel like it
Yeah. So it's been, you know, gotta work on the offboarding still, you know, like I wanna be getting done so that some afternoons I can go to the gym, although I'm a little nervous about going back to the gym right now with like COVID status. I'm like maybe take that time for some, you know, at home yoga or something like that. So the offboarding of the day is still little bit less consistent, but I still feel like it's a win having the front end. Like how you start the day obviously impacts the rest of your day so much. And that's what I found is when I felt like the day was beating me up, I would, you know, like any human does, you're more moody, you're more agitated and you, and you feel behind. And when you feel behind your attention is never on only one thing.
Your attention is on several things. And so how effective, present, intentional, you know, creative are you gonna be when you're scattered? Like you're not. And when you're scattered, you're always in a slight state of fear. And so then we actually start to change our body chemistry and then, you know, it actually affects us in a, in a real way, which can have, you know, obviously there's a lot of autoimmune issues that people have, adrenal issues that people have. I went through that in my late twenties and learned like, wow, I burnt myself out extra early and I had to think about how I was gonna structure my days, cuz I couldn't just keep pushing and doing it all and whatever I wanted or else, you know, there were gonna be long term consequences.
Do you think fear element comes from a sense of scarcity with our attention focus?
Yeah. I mean I think that, and I mean I think some of it is obviously business culture. Some of it is the pandemic, and like the toxic productivity that has come on. But I think we do often, myself included, put too much on our plates. Right. And there's a natural thing that when there's too much for us to do and we know it, cuz our brains are smart and we can see that, we're gonna feel a slight fear of failure all day because you're either gonna have to push more output than you really have or feels good or you're gonna have to not finish something or, or you're gonna have to do everything in a hurry. And you know, that feeling like when you're in a hurry, you're just kinda like, you're like, you look at your heart rate and your watch is like, are you running? And you're like, shut up. Like, no, I'm well kinda of.
Basically does, does panic count as running?
Yeah, exactly. It's like, should we start an activity now? It's like, well maybe, but like
I'm definitely spiraling. I don't know if that counts as an Apple watch activity.
Yeah. Where's that one?
I do feel that, you know what else I find too? As I acquire higher titles in my career, I find that the panic that I feel pushes me to operate at a lower level because I get so into task execution mode that I'm no longer able to be strategic or brainstorm or to your point about like creativity or just like spatial awareness. The results of my panic are exclusively, you know, output based, right? Like what can I get out the door? Which end up being totally not helpful at all. Because how often are the, you know, the tasks really rolling up to something larger? Not, not always.
Yes. And what that experience is, is actually like you're in fight or flight when you're stressed, if you're stressed and fearful, your body is in now not necessarily the highest level of, we won't go down this story, but of the, you know, small dog getting chased by a coyote in our yard this morning. Like you're not at that level of, you know, and don't worry, my partner went out, she saved the dog. So the dog did survive. Although it had a very scary moment for sure. So you're not at the dog being pursued by a coyote level, but you are in some amount of fight or flight and the way our physiology works, this is just fact that when you're in fight or flight, you're not using your prefrontal cortex. You can't, you can't access it. Right. So that's why we go to like, yeah, let's just finish like the easiest task.
And that's why I think we end up like email, Slack, coms because that's really like easy. And we can pump that out where, you know, deciding on the next content strategy and what all the touch points will be and how they're gonna feel for that particular ICP. Like that's like super like using all of your prefrontal cortex type of thinking and it's, you know, it's just not accessible. So we're actually, as you alluded to working against ourselves, we think that by piling things on we're being more productive and we might check more boxes. But as you mentioned, where is that all rolling up to? If it's all just kind of scattered and frantic and like racing all the time.
Renee Brown in her new book talks about the concept of feeling overwhelmed. And she likens to an experience that she had waiting tables at a super busy restaurant. Where she'd come into the kitchen and say, I'm blown. And there was this protocol at the restaurant where everybody would recognize that if she's at the state of being blown, if she's at the state of overwhelm, she's incapable of cleaning that up for herself. So they go into this mode of taking over her tables. They don't ask her questions, they just go assign things to other people and she is not allowed in the kitchen or on the floor for 15 minutes. That's how they manage overwhelm because they recognize, and she talks about this via data and research, that the only cure for overwhelm is rest. It's 15 minutes of non-doing. And so if we take these moments, when we feel that panic cycle and that the response mechanism to start doing the menial kind of tasks and instead just take a walk for 15 minutes or just, or just sit down away from your computer for 15 minutes, it might be enough to get us back into the space of being able to manage some of the higher level tasks.
Yep, absolutely. That is I have not read her new book yet. Big fan of Rhene Brown, of course. So that's, it's a very interesting concept and I can, you know, having waited tables in my late teens, early twenties, like I definitely empathize with that feeling. And unfortunately, (inaudible) I worked had the I'm blown protocol, cuz that would've been really helpful on some, you know, in my early twenties, I bartended on the strip in Las Vegas and there were some moments where you wanna be like, I need 15 minutes. This bar has been nine people deep for like six hours and I am about to lose it. And so yeah, they could all take a page out of her book quite literally.
Yeah. Literally. And going back to your earlier point about finding moments to push against toxic productivity, like there's nothing wrong with breaking, with taking 15 minutes, but we have somehow adopted a culture of do over be. And so we feel bad about it. We feel guilty about it. We feel remote work makes us actually feel more tethered. You know, I have a moment, every time I put up a status on Slack where I feel a sense of, of I'm about to be unavailable for, you know, 15 whole minutes, and like that shouldn't make me pause. I should not be as accessible as I am. And by that, I mean all of us, I don't mean me. I mean, we should, as humans not be touched all the time with that many inputs, we need more space.
Yes, absolutely. I mean, I remember in my last business I was in, you know, had a brick and mortar office. We were in real estate and finance and you know, when I think about what our interactions were like, we didn't have Slack. We were, you know, early adopters to like the CRM thing. So we had all of our data there for everybody to access. But you know, when I think about often people went in each other's offices or disrupted each other, it's nothing compared to what I see now in Slack. So what we work on and it's not a hundred percent like always there, but we even work on having office hours where it's like let's set hours where we're available so that everybody, cuz that feeling that you described, there was actually a really great episode on Hidden Brain, it's an NPR podcast.
If you don't listen to it, I think it is personally I think it's one of the best podcasts out there because they just dig into how our brains work in ways that we don't understand and helps us to understand ourselves better and have less guilt and blame around these things, and more understanding of the physiological imperatives so that we can change them. And so this thing with Slack, it is human to want to respond, to want to be available. Like all of these things are going on that are not any deficits that anybody has. It's just the way that we all operate. So we have to, as leaders, try to boundaries to give people permission, like, Hey, I'm still gonna think you're working. Even if you don't respond to me right away on Slack, I'm still gonna value you if you don't respond right away.
So I think the communication has to happen in removing the fear and then you have to walk the walk, right? You can't do that. And they'd be like, Hey, why didn't you answer me right away? It's like, cuz I'm doing my deep work and you want me to do? And that's what a lot of people are facing right now is like, you want me to do my best work. You also want me to be on demand. And those two things are quite literally mutually exclusive. You can't be scattered all over every time we context switch we have residue left in our mind to regain focus, even if it's only for 10 seconds to go read what someone wrote on Slack. And so having those boundaries set so that it's like set some, you know, time where we all know, Hey, if I go and I contact Mandy or Dolly or whoever at our organization in this timeframe, I'm probably gonna get a quick response.
But if I contact them outside of it, I need to know that I won't. And then that helps everyone get organized around, Hey, let's be ready to have our coms between 9 and 10, 10, 11, whenever that is in the morning. Now time zones again can make that a little bit more complicated. And when you're remote first, you, you know, hopefully you're hiring people everywhere, right? Cuz that gives you the opportunity to get the best people regardless of where they live. So figuring out the time zones can be tough. But I think that if you set the boundaries and also just overtly give people permission and then live up to that permission, don't, you know, don't, don't break the trust, right? Cause if you break the trust, that experience is gonna make that person not want to, you know, take their eyes off their Slack notifications.