The Secret to Productivity

A Day In The Life Of GYFG

In General Information by Gen Y Finance Guy31 Comments

Early to bed. Early to rise. Keeps a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. – Ben Franklin


When people get to know me and hear a little bit about all the things I do, they often ask me how I find the time. A large part of my secret is getting up early almost every day of the week (including weekends). Now let’s define early, because for some that means waking up before 9am (and for others anything before noon is early), but for me its waking up between 5am and 5:30am.

Yes, I wake up before 5:30am almost 7 days a week.

I say “almost,” because there is the rare occasion that I do sleep in. Don’t laugh, but sleeping in for me means that I sleep to 6:30 or 7:00am, and that does not happen very often.

PeerStreet

It should also be pointed out that I also go to bed very early by most people’s standards. Again, almost 7 nights a week I am asleep between 9pm and 10pm. In order to perform well, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is a must.

Why wake up so early?

By waking up at 5 or 5:30am you get a head start on the rest of the world. That means you have plenty of uninterrupted time to use on your agenda and not someone else’s.

5:00 5:15 am – Wake up and make my one and only cup of coffee for the day. The only time I ever have more than one cup is after a night that I made it to bed way later than normal (gasp…like 11:00 pm). Most mornings I will take the time to use a kettle to heat up water in order to brew a phenomenal cup of coffee in my French press (hello Bullet Proof Coffee). Other mornings I just brew a cup in the Keurig.

5:15 – 6:00 am – I spend the next 45 minutes enjoying my coffee while I read emails (personal & work), respond to comments on the blog, and read other blogs (leaving comments as well). I usually even sneak a peek to see what is happening pre-market. I like to see how the trading day is setting up.

6:00 – 7:00 am – On a typical day I usually spend this time either writing or reading (an actual book). It really ebbs and flows. I can always read, but I have to be in the right head space to write. This morning I am writing this very post while I sit in my backyard by our outdoor fire place. The sun has just poked its head up over the mountain in the distance. Man I love sun rises.

7:00 – 7:30 am – I take my dogs out for their morning walk around the neighborhood. During this time I am usually listening to a podcast on double speed. It’s really the only way I can listen these days, otherwise it seems soooo slow. During our walk I usually check in with Mr. Market to see how my portfolio is doing and if there are any opportunities to add new positions by way of selling options (mostly). More often than not I only add positions on down days (volatility is up, which means premiums are richer).

7:30 – 8:30 am – As soon as we get home from our walk, I immediately feed the hungry puppies. And lately I have been doing 25 minute workouts through the summer. But come September I will be back on the hour long workouts to sprint to my fitness goals through the end of the year. I have a 90-day round of P90X starting right after Labor Day (as you are reading this, I am starting week 4). This should get me into peak shape for the holidays, just when everyone else is letting their guard down. Through the summer I have been using the extra half hour to read more (blogs or books).

8:30 – 9:00 am – It’s time to jump in the shower and get ready for work. I am typically out the door by 8:45 am and in my office by 9:00 am. Something I didn’t mention above is that there are days when I take calls from our CEO on the East coast and even get some work done before I head into the office. But that didn’t happen today.

9:00 – 6:00 pm – This is pretty much dedicated to the day job. Usually I don’t take a lunch, but over the summer I have been going home for lunch. Last year this took up a much bigger chunk of my time. And from time to time it still does, but I have worked hard to set some barriers around my time. That means I continue to create systems that allow me to work smarter and not harder.

When I don’t leave for lunch I will sometimes take a 30 minute break to check back in with the markets to see if anything has changed since the morning (again looking for opportunity and keeping some sense of market awareness). I have also used this time to write a new post or check analytics or social media.

Note: My work schedule is not always as clean as 9:00 – 6:00 as sometimes I do get work done in the morning before I head into the office. This usually happens when I get a call from our CEO with an urgent request. Other times it could be due to working on a big project. However, I have made huge strides to move away from the 60 to 90 hour weeks I was working last year. 

Everything has a season, and all that hustle was necessary to get to this point in my career. Over the course of the last 18 months I was able to engineer myself a promotion, a fat raise, and less working hours – but not less impact or value to the company. Working myself to the bone last year was all in the name of putting in the right systems that would allow me to deliver the same results and more value in less time.

6:00 – 9:00 pm – I usually start cooking dinner for my wife and I when I get home from work. Yep, I am the chef in the house and I love to cook. It’s time to feed the dogs again (man, they eat well). This is also the time slot that we have been spending about 20-30 minutes a night in our new hot tub. After we have dinner, catch up for the day, and enjoy a little relaxation in the hot tub, we usually watch about an hour of TV.

9:00 – 10:00 pm – It is bed time, and I usually start getting narcoleptic around 9:00 pm on the dot. If I am not ready to go to bed immediately at 9:00, then I will read until I am struggling to keep my eyes open. Right now I am reading “The Power of Habit,” by Charles Duhigg.

 What about the weekends you ask?

For the most part I try to follow this schedule almost 7-days a week. But there are several deviations.

  1. The first deviation is that the time normally allotted for the day job is now allotted for: the blog, side hustles, more reading, errands I couldn’t address in the middle of the week, research, etc. But I do have an agreement with my wife that I will only work until 4pm on Saturdays and until she wakes up on Sundays (unless she has other projects to do). So, Saturdays are half work and half play. While Sundays are almost completely computer-screen free and a full day with my beautiful wife.
  2. Our evenings are usually spent with friends and family. This usually involves dinner out somewhere with some good wine.
  3. The last deviation is that on Sunday nights I have my weekly mastermind call.

That is pretty much the framework for a typical day in my life. I have most likely left out a lot of tiny details and things I do without thinking. One of these days I will have to actually take notes throughout the day. I have found great joy in keeping to a regular routine. Some may call it boring, but it is the only way I have found to maintain high energy and ensure I get to spend time on everything I want to.

What does your day look like? Are you able to fit in everything that you want to do? 

– Gen Y Finance Guy

 



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Comments

  1. Sounds great that for the most part you’ve gotten work down to 9 to 6 (with obvious variances when duty calls). My day is shifted by about two hours (get up at 730, in bed by around 1130) due to NYC time as people just start strolling into the office around 9am and tend to work later in the evening. I also don’t have pets and do my workouts at night.

    1. Author

      FF – It took lots of long hours at the office to finally get into a schedule that was closer to 40-50 hours a week. But it can be done.

      I don’t know how people can work out in the evening. If I don’t work out before 5pm, I am just not going to work out. I love the morning workouts, because there is never much that comes up in the morning to keep me from working out. Where the afternoon or evening could be a crap shoot. Plus my energy is pretty low by the time I get home.

      Everyone has to find their optimal schedule. Mind just happens to be mornings.

      Cheers!

  2. The routine of your schedule is great, and I think you will recognize it’s wonders even more as you finish The Power of Habit! I, too am an early riser and accomplish many things prior to when the rest of people are wiping the sleep from their eyes. One of the biggest components of my routine is learning something new in the morning (whether from a book, blog, podcast, news, etc.) and ending the day learning something new as well. I’m also attempting to implement the “no screen time” standard where at least 30mins to an hour before bed I do not look at the computer, TV, or my cell phone. Sometimes I can fall victim to information overload, so it’s allowing me to really put into perspective the things I do want to learn about and read from without being overwhelmed. What’s great is the balance you have created between work, physical health, time spent with your loved ones, and opportunity recognition. This is something I try to strive for every day – even if I am working a full time job in an office setting!

    1. Author

      Hey Alyssa – Glad to have a fellow morning riser. That is awesome that you try to learning something new during your mornings.

      Do you keep your early morning routine on weekends as well?

      The no screen time is a tough one to break. Our screens are like crack cocaine. I have read that you will get better sleep if you avoid screens at night before bed. Something about the light that messes with your melotonin levels. As life long students, it is really hard to feel satiated with so much out their to read and learn from.

      My three secret weapons that help me from getting overwhelmed or OD’ing are the following:

      1 – Amazon Wish List – There are so many books I want to read and I am tense if I order too many and have them sitting in my house. But I don’t want to forget about them, so I leverage my wish list in Amazon and typically only order 1-3 books at a time. Even when I read 3-5 books a month, my list only seems to grow. But something about knowing it’s on the list keeps me from stressing out about all the things I still want to read.

      2 – Feedly – There are so many great blogs out there. I don’t always have time to read them in a timely manner, but I at least want the option. I love the Feedly automatically aggregates and organizes all the blogs I follow. There is also a feature I have used a few times to mark all blogs as read if I go away for an extended period of time and realize there is no way I will catch up with everything.

      3 – Boomerang for Gmail – I use Gmail for all my email outside of work. With that I am subscribed to a good amount of newsletters. This plugin allows me to send the emails out of my inbox and schedule them to come back at a later time.

      The balance has not always come easy or been natural. It has been something that has been developed over the last 7 years. I have my awesome wife for teaching me about balance. It is easy to become so singularly focused and neglect the other important activities and people in our lives.

      Always a pleasure to see you hanging out in the comments Alyssa!

  3. Great schedule that you maintain. Inspirational…

    With 2 kids that now get older and tend to sleep longer, my wife keeps getting uo at 5: 50 to go to the office early. I stay another 35 minutes in bed. I should drop this and get up as well to do some blog related activities. I hope to do this as from tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

    Next to that, We also try to have a screen free day, but fail at that. I hope that putting point one in practice will help me get there.

    Oh yeah, and from time to time, I also look at selling options… I managed to get started. your blogposts were one of the enablers that got me there…

    1. Author

      Thanks AmberTree!

      I honestly have no idea how I will manage life, once we finally decided to have kids. Luckily we are still 2 years off from even considering the possibility. But so far the message I get from all of my friends that have had kids is “it changes your life” and “you have no time for anything.” Yikes!!!

      My hope is that my kids will enjoy sleeping in, so that I can still have my mornings. But only time will tell.

      I think that extra 35 minutes would be a great time for you to work on the blog.

      No screen days are a hard one in the times we live in. Even when we go out to dinner, I need to have my wife put my phone in her purse, in order to not be tempted to look at it.

      Glad I was able to be the push to get you started with selling options. I have a goal to write more about options in the near future. Contemplating a trade/investment of the week/month post. Still thinking it over.

      How as the option selling been going so far? Anything I can help you with?

      Cheers!

      1. Kids for sure change your life. And they bring a lot of joy and fun as well. I would say that the first 2 and half years are the hardest. We are past that point and they can entertain themselves for a while. We have now found a new balane.

        My first morning of getting up is done. A good first step! I kinda liked the calm and quite time before the storm of getting 2 kids ready for school. I hope to stay on the course.

        Option selling has been a good learning experiment till now. I am just curious to see what others would have done with the 24 august correction. I am lining up a post on that. I am interested in your view as well.

        1. Author

          Hey AmberTree – Thanks for the reply.I know kids will be fun, I guess what I was really trying to say is that I am just not ready for that adjustment yet. That’s why my wife and I agreed early on that we would wait until we were 30 before we talked about having kids. Which means it’s like not until we are 31 before we have our first.

          Regarding the August 24 correction:

          First, as you are likely learning on TastyTrade, it is really important to maintain a level of market awareness. When you are first starting out this will likely be an obsession, but over time you will learn to balance this out. The actual corrective move began on 8/18, and the move on 8/24 (sorry if the dates are backwards for you) was what I like to call capitulation. This was the 5th and final day of the move lower, at least for now.

          The best mindset you can gain as a trader/investor is a contrarian one, especially if you are going to be selling options. Volatility is you friend. When people are fearful, that is a time for you to be greedy. And when people are greedy, you should be fearful.

          I personally have a rule of only selling puts on down days. You will also notice if you read any of my posts that I had a large amount of cash sitting on the sidelines waiting for a substantial down-move and an explosion of volatility. Even when I am buying index funds, I only buy on down-days. I like to buy companies and indexes when they are on sale.

          Here is a quick example to show you why it is way better to sell puts into down days and increased volatility.

          – On 8/18/2015 when SPY was trading for $209.98 the October-2015 $200 strike PUT was $2.00 (a put that was $10 out of the money)

          – On 8/24/15 when the SPY was trading for $189.55 the October-2015 $179 strike PUT was $6.38 (again $10 out of the money)

          As you can see with a down move and heightened volatility you get more than 3X the premium. I should point out that during this move the VIX went from 13.8 to a high of 53.3 and closed at 40.7.

          The big takeaway is you trade very small when selling options in low volatility environments. And increase your size in high volatility environments.

          Hope that helps!

  4. You are a harder worker than I am, obviously. I function much better in the evening than I do early in the morning. I get to work at 7:15-7:30 so that I don’t have to stay as late, but could not manage to start my day earlier than that!

    1. Author

      Hey Vawt – We all have our “Prime Time.” Mine just happens to be in the morning. Not sure being a morning person makes me a harder worker than you 🙂

      If I recall correctly, you also have kids right?

      That’s got to throw a wrench into the schedule equation.

  5. With a baby on the way, I really need to get on that early morning bandwagon! I’m also thinking of changing up the sleeping routine. I currently read ebooks tied to business/entrepreneurship. These often to lead to things I feel I need to do or implement and then I can’t get to sleep which makes me more tired in the morning leading to one vicious cycle. Do you have any issues with reading non-fiction before bed?

    1. Author

      Hey Erik – I only read non-fiction and always do about 30 minutes of reading before I go to bed. I sleep like a baby 🙂

      I know where you are coming from. I keep my phone by my bed, because if I have any aha moments, I dump them in an email for myself to review in the morning. That way I know I won’t forget and can go to sleep peacefully.

      Try it out and let me know if that works for you.

      Cheers!

  6. I am also a fan of the early start to the day, but I still envy your productivity! It usually takes me a good hour of coffee and news before I am ready to open up e-mails or do actual work. It’s also great that since you’ve reduced your workday, you are using this time productively rather than just extra TV time like most people. You know, this has really inspired me – my next 30 day challenge will be to “produce” (rather than “consume”) content in the 1st hour of waking up. Thanks for another great post!

    1. Author

      Hey B&F – Love the name…do you have a back story why you chose that name? Besides the undeniable deliciousness that comes to mind.

      Happy to be an inspiration!

      Follow the 80/20 rule of production/consumption and I don’t think you can ever go wrong.

      Cheers!

      1. My boyfriend and I dream of having a little hostel and organic farm in the Bulgarian mountains. We are constantly arguing about the details, but one thing is for sure – we will make our own bacon and feta. The two most delicious foods on the planet 🙂

        You are def an inspiration! Following your blog is one of the main reason why I’ve come to believe we can do it, and I’ve put together a plan for us to get there.

        1. Author

          That sounds amazing and delicious!!!

          So, happy to hear that you find inspiration and motivation to make the life you dream of. It’s easy once you make a plan and take action…and think a little differently than most people 🙂

          Look forward to seeing you around.

          Cheers!

  7. I’ve read that waking up early is a habit of many wealthy people =) I have mainly been a night person though. Congrats on engineering less hours. And I’m more of the chef in the house too…and to think before marriage, all I could make was scrambled eggs. Anyways, time is definitely at a premium for me with a little one, but I’m sure there are a lot time that I waste on unproductive things. I do have over a 2 hour commute (round trip) and with picking/dropping off my son, there isn’t much time.

    1. Author

      Hey Andrew – Hopefully the morning routine pays off in helping me reach my wealth goals faster.

      The commute is a killer. That was the first thing my wife and I started working on in 2011. At one point we were like you and commuting to work. We were both spending up to 3 hours a day on the road.

      Any chance you might be able to make some changes to kill the commute to reclaim your time? Maybe a work from home a few days a week?

      Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Working from home makes sense for what I do…but I work in government so they don’t always follow common sense…unfortunately! And if we move, then my wife’s commute would suck. So we’ll have to live with it for now.

  8. Your day is full of plans getting done. I am glad to see it. Many people think time is unlimited but it is the scarcest resource we have. We only have 24 hours a day but 1/3 is to sleep and 1/3 – 1/2 to work. After that, we only have 2-3 hours or less a day for ourselves. It is fair that everyone gets 24 hours but only a few use the full potential of the time.

    Thanks for sharing.

    BSR

    1. Author

      Hey BSR – I am totally trying to optimize my time to have a balanced approach to spend 1/3 sleeping, 1/3 working, and 1/3 of personal time doing whatever I want.

      It’s not easy, but it is possible if you diligently chip away at it.

      Cheers!

  9. I love this post “a day in the life”! Clearly, you are disciplined. You have created the habits of success: rising early, managing your time…

    I like the idea of the mastermind call. How did you put that into place? I would be interested in knowing how to start one, who to ask, etc.

    Thanks,
    Laura Beth

    1. Author

      Setting up a Mastermind is rather easy. You find people that are working towards similar goals and ask if they would be interested in setting up a mastermind. The mastermind creates a sense of accountability and is a great place to get different perspectives. In my experience it typically speeds up your rate of success as well. I actually think Michael over at Financially Alert is looking to start a Mastermind…you may want to reach out to him.

  10. Hey man!
    It’s been a while. Glad to see you still cranking out content like a champ…what a machine! I’m working on my first post in a while on my site…busy busy. A couple quick questions:
    1. What your source for accessing podcasts during your walks?
    2. What are these “mastermind” calls of which you speak?

    Take care,
    Wes

    1. Author

      Hey Wes – It has been a long time. Where does the time go?

      Glad to hear you are working on a new post. Shoot me over a link when your done, would love to read it.

      1 – I access podcasts via my iPhone through itunes using the native podcasts app. If you go and find my July content curation post, I even listed the 20 or so podcasts that I listen too. That list has recently changed, but it is a good start. I am sure you will find the ones you like.

      2 – A mastermind call is the meeting of the minds if you will. My Sunday MM call is with two other guys that are both building businesses and we hold each other accountable and once a week there is a rotating hot seat where the group helps one person with a struggle. We share with each other what is working in our business and our lives. Think of it as an Elite group to 10X your life.

      Cheers!

  11. I know I’m a bit late to the party, but when I saw this post about a month ago it made me realize I need to create more discipline and better habits in my life. I’ve set out on a path to improve on my daily schedule and have a list of monthly goals that are written down (it’s on the internet – it’s now official…).

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. This is a very helpful post for me…i think incorporate some of this into my daily routine…thanks

    1. Author

      Glad you found it useful Mike! What in particular will you be trying to incorporate?

  13. Man love your discipline, sounds like you should be writing “the power of habit” rather than reading it 😉
    How did you find the book?
    My schedule isn’t anywhere near as structured as that although I generally look to get to bed by midnight & am up between 530 – 630am.. Am getting more structured and disciplined & this has motivated me to look into creating more of a schedule

    Well done on that sir! 🙂

    1. Author

      Jeff – I should do an update on this. My life is still pretty structured, but far less balanced. Been putting in lots of hours at work over the past year.

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