The following post is a summary of a recent podcast episode, which you can listen to use the podcast player below. For show notes and a list of resources we mention in the podcast/blog, scroll to the bottom of the page.
About a year ago, we had a little too much in common with a 24-hour dinner. Not in the way of aging fluorescent lighting or the smell of greasy french fries—but if you walked into our house any time before 5pm, it’s likely that there was a pot of coffee on.
4am wake up? Time for a coffee.
10am mid morning slump? Don’t mind if I do.
2pm post-lunch debate: nap or coffee? How much is too much?
And on really exhausting days, Davey was known to mix a little pre-workout in.
If you’re keeping track, that’s a LOT of caffeine.
Thankfully, these days we’ve found a few other ways to stay organized, energized and focused throughout the day. Not only do the methods we’re about to discuss help us stay focused on summer days when the pool is calling our names, but they also help us avoid burnout.
Disclaimer: Although some of the tips mentioned in this episode/post include diet and exercise advice, we are not doctors or nutritionists. You should always discuss any changes to your diet or exercise routine with your medical professional.
How We Stay Organized
TeuxDeux – We’ve been using this app for 10 years as a way to stay focused on daily tasks. If you’ve ever heard about someone using a legal pad as a way to write down all of their ideas and things that need to be done, this is the digital version of that. Not only is it easy to glance at the app to see what you need to focus on for the day, the app also allows you to set recurring tasks.
We use recurring tasks for everything from reminding us to water our plants on Saturdays to keeping up with our monthly accounting tasks on the first day of the month.
TeuxDeux even has spots at the bottom of the screen for extra lists. We use these to help with bigger tasks that we want to get to but might not be working on at the moment. So if our schedule opens up and we have a little bit of extra time to work, we can pull those tasks up from the bottom to the day.
Not only does TeuxDeux give you the satisfaction of crossing things off your list as you complete them, if you don’t get to a task, it automatically moves over to the next day. While we still use Clickup for Project Management, we use TeuxDeux for our individual tasks.
Block Scheduling – We’re big fans of block scheduling. If you were to take a look at our calendars, you would notice that nearly all of our meetings are grouped into two days of the week (Tuesday and Thursday). And within those days, we try to schedule our meetings back-to-back.
Yes, it can be a little exhausting, but it saves us from constantly flipping back and forth between tasks.
We do make exceptions for Discovery Calls because if someone wants to work with us, we don’t want to make them wait very long. But any standing meetings are generally grouped into chunks on a few specific days.
If you want to take your block schedule to the next level, you can also schedule in time to answer email, work on specific content, etc. We’ve talked a bit about block scheduling before so if you want a few more tips, check out this post about creating a block schedule.
How We Stay Energized
Giving Up Caffeine – This past Lent, we gave up caffeine. It was eye opening for us because up until that point, we didn’t realize how dependent on caffeine we were. We had heard people say that getting off caffeine would give us more energy throughout the day, but we never believed them. Maybe they just had more energy to begin with, or their lives weren’t as hectic… or they were just lying.
The first few weeks were tough. We felt sluggish and the headaches were real. But the challenge of forty days really helped us to clear the caffeine from our systems and see the benefits. While we’ve added a little caffeine back to our days, the amount is significantly smaller. Krista mixes decaf coffee with her caffeinated coffee and Davey drinks a mushroom coffee blend that is lower in caffeine. At this point, caffeine feels like a boost and not something our bodies are dependent on.
We don’t feel the same type of slumps mid-morning and mid-afternoon that we previously felt.
Carnivore Diet / Keto Diet – We’ve heard of the carnivore diet before, but we always thought it was something that influencers did online to be cool. But after more research, it turns out it’s one of the best elimination diets out there. There have been people who have been able to suppress their auto immune disorders or avoid surgery because of this diet. Again, we’re not doctors. We’re not telling you to stop eating everything but meat—but if you do some research, you’ll likely find what we seemed to find: A lot of research around the benefits of a meat only diet.
One of the biggest benefits is the increase in energy. Davey says the hardest part so far has been the lack of variety in the diet, but that seems to be improving as he learns new recipes.
But in general, eating better and consistently exercising helps us stay more energized. Probably not shocking…
Exercise, Learn Something New, Do Something Fun – These three reminders are written on a board next to Davey’s desk. Each day, he tries to do something in each of these areas. The key to this is not to overthink it. “Do something fun” doesn’t need to be as big as a trip to a theme park. It could be a simple as working in the yard or jumping on the trampoline with our son Jack. “Learn something new” might be looking something up that was mentioned in an article or book he read.
Stay Hydrated (add electrolytes) – It’s so easy to become so focused in our work that we forget to stay hydrated. But we’ve found that often times when we’re feeling sluggish, we don’t need a burst of caffeine, what we really need is more water. We both keep water bottles by our sides throughout the day and we fill them up several times. We also recently started adding electrolytes to one of our water bottles each day to help us retain more water. I’ve started making sole water (more on that in the podcast episode), but Davey uses an electrolyte mix from Redmond’s Real Salt.
While it might feel a bit like drinking sea water at first, you get used to the taste after a few days.
Making Sole Water is another method for keeping salts in your body. It has been reported to help with everything from hydration to sleep to weight loss. WebMD has a great article about it.
How We Stay Focused
Limiting Your Work Time – The nature of having an eight month old baby and no childcare for him (yet) means that our work hours are limited. During the times that we do have to work (early in the morning + naps), limited time helps us stay focused on the most important tasks of the day. These are often the tasks that move the business forward.
Even if your work hours aren’t quite as limited as ours, you could still apply this principle to your own business (maybe through block scheduling). Figure out what the most important things are for you to do that day and do them first. Give yourself a set amount of time to do them and keep any distractions (like email or your phone) muted.
Reward yourself with tasks that are less brain intensive (such as errands) and set a hard stop time for your day. Our older son Jack gets out of school at 3pm, so this is generally when we end our work for the day.
Remove Email and Slack off Your Phone – We have also experimented with taking email and slack off our phones. While it might seem like we’re not being as productive because we can’t handle things on the go, we’ve found that when we do sit down at our desks to work, our time is actually more productive. We’re better able to manage any questions and task when we’re at a computer than when we’re on our phones.
Davey’s Board – On the wall next to Davey’s desk, you’ll find a board. He runs three businesses and each of the businesses has a task that is listed as the priority for that day. Before adding anything to the board, he asks himself what the one thing he needs to do for that business is to help move it forward. He also has goals for the week and month. The daily goals should roll into the week and weekly goals should roll into the month. This visual representation of goals helps Davey to choose the tasks that have the most impact.
If we’ve learned anything about productivity and organzation over the years it’s that there is always room to improve. So if you have any tips for staying organized, energized or focused throughout the day, post them below. We would love to hear about them!
Find It Quickly (in the Episode):
4:17 – Krista’s Organization tips (TeuxDeux)
8:15 – Block Scheduling
11:41 – Cutting out coffee
14:01 – Carnivore Diet
17:40 – Exercise, Learn Something New, Do Something Fun
18:15 – Stay Hydrated (and add electrolytes)
20:30 – Short periods of work time
22:01 – Remove Slack & Email from Your Phone
23:02 – Davey’s task board