My daily routine and one quick trick I use to increase my willpower

April 08, 2016

Willpower is a finite resource. When you make too many choices throughout the day you are at a greater risk to make poor decisions later on.

I minimize my decisions throughout the day by sticking to a daily routine.

My Schedule

Below is my current routine:

5:30 – 6:00    get ready, decaf coffee
6:00 – 7:00    read (1)
7:00 – 8:00    write (1)
8:00 – 8:30    breakfast (.5)
8:30 – 9:00    clean (.5)
9:00 – 1:30    primary business (4.5)
1:30 – 2:30    lift (1)
2:30 – 3:00    cardio (.5)
3:15 – 4:00   5 min walk to pick up Daughter and spend time with her (.75)
4:00 – 5:00    dinner (1)
6:00 – 10:00    entrepreneur (4)

I have my schedule optimized to work when my kids are either in school or sleeping. Even though I work 9.5 hours every day only 2 of those hours are when the kids are awake. My kids are young and I recognize that time with them is important. I believe some overlap with their schedules is also good. When they are doing homework I am working as well. Each day I demonstrate to them through my actions the value and importance of hard work.

I prefer to workout during the day so I lift and do cardio in the early afternoon. Being my own boss gives me that flexibility.

Adults don’t read enough. I set aside time to read each day.

I strive to improve my writing. You only improve by doing. I write daily.

This schedule is a guideline. If I want to run to the store during the day or have a client meeting during the time I normally lift, I remain flexible. It’s easy enough for me to shift things around. I can even drop items if I feel it’s important. So my list is flexible but I have a stop-gap to make sure I stay on track. The other important tool I use is my daily list.

My Daily List

My daily list is something I create each night for the next day. It includes items that are absolutes. Each item signifies something that I have to complete before I go to bed. Below is a picture showing this Wednesday’s daily list from the whiteboard I keep in my home office. One note – I don’t include lifting on my list because it’s such a habit I don’t need to write it out each day.

My daily to do list



So how can you create your own schedule to increase your willpower? Consider the following steps:

Step 1 – Prep & Purge

Consider a uniform. Obama, Steve Jobs and Zuckerberg all utilize a uniform. They setup their complex lives to avoid decision fatigue. By wearing a uniform they save their energy and willpower to make important decisions. They don’t give a shit what fun color of socks they are going to be wearing.

Remove temptation from your life. (junk food, porn, unsubscribe from the opposite sex on instagram, cancel your cable TV subscription)

Purchase your tools. If a product or service buys you time or removes decisions from your day go for it. Buy great running shoes. Pickup a water bottle and keep it full. Signup for tennis lessons. Buy a stack of great books. Enlist an online tutor to teach you French.

Step 2 – Automate

Have a daily routine. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every night. Make sure you get enough rest. Exercise daily. Consider keeping the same schedule even on the weekend. Work hard. Leave time for your family.

Step 3 – Track

Track what’s important to you. If you are trying to lose weight, weigh yourself daily. If you are learning a language, set aside 15 minutes each morning to practice.

Here is what I do each day:

Step 3 – Prep

Each night take some time to prepare decisions for the upcoming day. Any planning and prep will remove decisions from your day.

Pick out what you are wearing the night before. Bonus points if you are implementing a wardrobe. Prep your kids lunches. Plan your meals. If you work from an office pack your lunch. Your willpower at night means you will pack something healthy and won’t be tempted to go with your co-workers to get fried chicken. Make your daily to-do list.

Bonus / Quick Tip

Install Focus –

While I am working I have Focus running at all times. This means I block all sites that cause me to get distracted.

The internet is amazing. It is also a piece of shit. You can use it to look up literally anything in the world. It is so powerful. Unfortunately, too often than not we open a browser with the best of intentions and end up staring at a cat that is watching another cat play with a box.