In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (P.S.), psychologist and author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes a genuinely satisfying state of consciousness as “flow.” When you're in “flow,” you are totally immersed in what can only be described as a deeply enjoyable, creative experience that leads to the satisfaction of achieving specific things (my paraphrase).
I am often asked how I “do it all.” Of course, I don't do it all. In fact, the only reason I am able to accomplish anything is because I have help from my husband, my assistant, Glenda, and a host of smart service providers who help mainly with technology. I don't try to do everything I want to do. Instead, I prioritize things that must be done in order to remain in the kind of “flow” described in the book as much as possible. I find that having a daily routine his critical to success. Here's mine, in a nutshell:
Shower. As soon as I roll out of bed, I take a shower because it totally wakes me up. Some people sing in the shower. I compose blog posts in the shower. I usually take a few minutes to check Things and CalenGoo to confirm scheduled meetings for the day. I also check my Google RSS Reader to see if there are any articles to Tweet and/or FaceBook, and anything to save to ReadItLater. I do all of this before my kids wake up. Finally, because I am hopelessly addicted (thanks Anne-Marie!), I play Scrabble on the Words With Friends iPhone app. (I'm “LifestyleCEO” if you want to play sometime!)
Get kids ready. My husband and I tag team getting the kids ready for camp or school. This involves collecting everything that we missed last night, looking for that favorite pair of shoes, brushing teeth and dealing with the trauma of not being able to find the perfect matching shorts (since we no longer want to wear the ones we selected the night before). It's crazy but sweet. Then we head out the door.
Exercise. By the time the kids are dropped off, it's 9:00 during the summer, or 7:30 during the school year, and I usually go for a run. I take my iPhone with me so I can track my progress using RunKeeper. I also use Dragon to record ideas I have for new blog posts. Recording my thoughts before I forget them is one of the most important things I do to remain productive over the long haul.
Social networking check-ins. I set aside about an hour to check in at my social networking site, FaceBook (both my personal and business Page) and Twitter. I moderate my social site, send and accept friend requests, maybe add a blog post, leave comments at others's blog posts, etc. On FaceBook, I check in with friends and family, update my Page with Small Business Roll Call (on Mondays), WorkOut Wednesday or FaceBook Friday posts and have a whale of a time talking with people at my Page and on theirs. I also Tweet. I also check my Sponsors's pages to see if there are new things that I should know about so I can help facilitate their engagement.
This hour is my absolute favorite time of day! Too bad it's only an hour, but if I'm not disciplined about it, I get sucked into the mouth of the beast and my business and personal life suffer for it.
Meetings and projects. The rest of the day is invested by sticking as closely as possible to a pre-determined set of time blocks that move specific meetings and projects forward. I usually spend an hour to an hour and a half drafting blog posts.
Some of my most important recurring scheduled meetings are with my MasterMind group and my assistant, Glenda. It is rare that I miss either of those. Since my husband is also my business partner, we try to schedule a meeting each morning to review priorities, projects, etc. Sometimes those meetings are long, sometimes they are short. Sometimes, they occur while we walk together during my exercise time. I schedule other meetings as appropriate, but meetings can be huge time wasters. Since they are only productive when they have specific purposes that fit specific business goals, I schedule as few meetings as possible.
Client coaching sessions, my weekly podcast, IBN member webinars and things of that nature are also scheduled in advance. If it's not a specific project or a scheduled meeting, I just handle it as it comes up. Examples that fit this category of work include things like media interviews, helping an IBN member with a membership related issue, processing membership applications, handling products liability insurance questions and climbing out of email.
Importantly, I invest snippets of time moving in and out of social networks throughout the day. I might retweet helpful information that has been shared by others, promote a new event or product offering and just generally — well, you know — be social.
At some point in here, I eat something a time or two (or, unfortunately, three, if I'm really stressed out — sigh).
Rounding out the day. If it's during the school year when my kids come home at 2:00, the wind down starts at that time, and I spend the rest of the day taking my mommy hat off, putting it back on, taking it off, putting it back on. It can be challenging, but once the kids are in bed at 8:00, I can go back to fulfilling my professional side.
It's much easier during the summer months because the kids are in day camp. This gives me a few more hours of the business day to be professionally productive. They usually return home exhausted, and all they want is to eat, read a book or two and go to bed. I can usually go to bed earlier in the summer months because I get so much more done during the day when my kids are at camp. If I'm feeling especially energetic, I'll go for another run sometime between 7:00 and 10:00.
Preparation for the next day. Before I turn it off for the day, I review CalenGoo, Things, email and other things that need checking so I can hit the ground running in the morning. Other things I enjoy doing at the end of the day include working on MindNode, Habit Factor and adding an entry or two to my Gratitude Journal.
Of course I also do the regular stuff everyone else does: pay bills, get the car serviced, grocery shop, laundry wash and sort (though, thankfully, my wonderful husband does most of that), wash dishes, prepare food, pack lunch boxes, kiss boo-boos and chauffeur little people around. Then I get up the next day and do it all over again.
Question: What’s your daily productivity flow like?