A few ideas.

Implementing ideas from books, along with experimenting with various productivity techniques, has helped me to manage my workday. This week I would like to share a few with you.

The first technique I use came from Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. In his book, he discusses the concept of having a digital desk and an analog desk. Below are the various digital and analog techniques I use. Beginning with how I start the day.

Meditation is a practice I began about two years ago. I started by using the app Headspace. When they raised the price, I started using guided meditations that I would find on youtube. Each morning I wake up and start the day with a 5-10 minute guided meditation. Thanks to my phone and Bluetooth headphones, I can complete this without disturbing my family.

I am a school leader. At the beginning of each year, I buy a journal to take notes at meetings and to jot down ideas. This year I use my journal to make my daily to-do list. I have experimented with various digital to-do lists, yet none of them worked for me. There is something about crossing off an item and using different colors of pens that is soothing. Each morning I sit down and follow this format. 1, 3, and 5. I write down one big thing I will accomplish: 3 medium items, and five small items.

At the end of the day the items I finish, I cross off, the things I don’t get to, I move to the next day. This is the closest that I can get to being structured in an unstructured environment. Working as a school administrator is like working in the ER or playing the outfield in baseball. Some days are slow, some days everyone wants you, and things are happening very fast.

I use my Alexa for timers and music. When I arrive in the morning, I will stream music to get me pumped for the day; I have an apple tv in the office to stream sports talks shows and presentations. I also keep the app stand up on my apple watch and set it for 25 minutes so that I will stand and walk around from time to time.

The next digital technique involves my phone. My work gives me a choice between having a mobile work phone or stipend per month to use my phone. I choose to have a mobile work phone. This allows me to have boundaries. I keep all my work phone numbers and email on my work phone. I don’t have my work email on my personal phone, that way when I arrive home, I turn off my work phone, and don’t check it until the next. Doing this allows me to have a hard shut off of my day, and work doesn’t spill over into my family life.

Resetting at the end of the workweek is an excellent way to recharge, mentally rest, and prepare for the upcoming week.

Going analog on the weekends is how I reset and recharge. Each Saturday morning, I wake and drive down to the beach. If you are ever in Los Angeles, a good parking hack is to go to the beach before 8 am, you will find plenty of street parking for free. I go to one of my favorite shops, The Cows’ End. I order a large coffee and then head upstairs, open my journal, and write for about 45 minutes. After that, I walk over to the beach, watch the surfers, and meditate. I close my eyes and listen to the waves.

Working in a digital environment and an analog environment helps me to create a healthy work-life balance. Life is fast, times flies by, and stress is a consistent companion. With a little effort, it can be managed and maintained with success.


3 thoughts on “A few ideas.

  1. Hi Steven – I’m still envious of your Saturday mornings. I should set out to create this kind of routine for myself to recharge. I suppose I have a loose interpretation, yet it is seasonal. Summertime I love going to the farmers market and perusing the stands. In Winter, we wake to ski. Fall, we like to head to the woods to camp and recharge. I think the point is the same – take time to disconnect. In this I think you’re right, and I found it interesting to see how you blend analog vs. digital tools to make the right blend for your lifestyle. I’m curious if you ever get flack for turning off your work phone in the evenings or weekends, and how you respond?

  2. Great article, Steven. I always find reading about how people manage their days/weeks/lives useful as a prompt to reflect on how I do the same.

    Interestingly, I wasn’t expecting this from the title of the post and I found it really refreshing to see the comparison of your digital and analogue environments.

    I wonder, if there was only one of these that you could do each day/week what would it be? Which of these has the most impact on your life and wellbeing?

  3. Steven, I totally agree that a mindful blend of digital and analog is where it’s at. How do you decide which things to do in digital vs. analog? Is it trial and error?

    I also wanted to mention that you always say how you don’t like structure, but it sounds like you’ve incorporated a lot of structure into your life on your own terms. When do you like structure vs. not like structure? Any patterns there?

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