I’ve been receiving a considerable number of emails and Twitter messages asking for me to write about my average day.
So yesterday, I sat down and tried to figure out what I did every day, on average.
I ended up making up an ideal day that didn’t really reflect reality, that had never been lived and would not be lived.
Why I don’t have normal days.
This made me realize that I don’t really have a routine, I simply wake up every morning and do what I feel inspired to do from start to finish.
The ability to be able to do whatever you want on any given day can make life look relatively random when you attempt to scale it down to a post on your ideal day.
This makes the title of this post incredibly misleading, but I hope you’ll forgive me.
When I used to have average days.
When I worked at New York Magazine, I had average days. I’d wake up every morning at exactly 8am. I’d roll out of bed, turn on my laptop and immediately sign into email and AIM. Five minutes later I’d start to receive requests to put photos on the stories that other people had written.
This continued all morning, while I made coffee in the kitchen and made myself breakfast. Eventually I’d tell my assistant to cover for me while I jumped on the Subway and headed into Manhattan.
Then I’d sit at my desk making the photos on blog posts look great until 2, when I’d run out and grab lunch to come back and eat at my desk, and then at 5pm on the dot I’d turn it all off and continue on with my life. I did this every day, it was very average.
Now I don’t live like that anymore, because a year ago I quit my job and now I’m in control of my own destiny.
I don’t recommend living the day job average-day lifestyle, so far having random days where I discover what really interests me is much more profitable than sitting at a desk every day was.
That being said, there are things that I might do on most days that I think can help you emulate my day, if that’s the reason why you’re emailing me to tell you what my average day is like. These aren’t very revolutionary things, they’re just normal human things.
Here are some of the key elements of my day:
1. Writing. I write when I have an idea worth writing down. Other times I’ll write just to see if an idea will come — if it doesn’t I’ll stop writing. I don’t do this on any set schedule. For instance, I’m writing this at 6am in the morning, because I couldn’t sleep any longer and the idea just wouldn’t leave my head. Some days I’ll go to a coffee shop and write, other days I’ll sit down somewhere after Yoga and write. It all depends on the day.
2. Wandering. Another good portion of most days is spent wandering. I find that exploring the city is a great way to both generate ideas, and to simply discover new places and experiences. The most important element of wandering is not having an end destination. For instance, many people wander to the mall to buy something — this isn’t wandering, it’s consumerism. Wandering shouldn’t cost too much money. I recently picked up a new bike (I haven’t had a bike since I was in Portland last year) so now I can wander on wheels.
3. Reading. I read a lot, in order expand my knowledge of how people think. Right now I’m trying to decode Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan, Chris Guillebeau and Charlie Gilkey’s new Unconventional Guide to Freelancing, and I’m in the process of reading Derek Sivers’ blog from start to finish, because he has a lot to offer. I used to read the New York Times for two hours every day, but then I realized that it didn’t really help me. I’d know everything about the sad things happening in the world, but I really couldn’t do anything about them, so in the end I decided it was more important to read things that could help me achieve my goals instead of simply reading for the sake of the action. Be conscious of what you’re consuming, information is addictive and often meaningless.
4. Yoga. Yoga centers me and I think might keep me from going crazy. My recent yoga schedule is mostly taking the BART into San Francisco’s Mission District where I practice at Yoga to the People, a donation based studio that originally opened in New York. 95% of the time Scott teaches, but my friend Carly from dance school also teaches there remarkably enough.
5. Eating. The rest of my day is usually spent in pursuit of food. I’ll either cook meals from scratch or sometimes I’ll go out to eat. There are a lot of great meals to be had in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco, so I’ve been exploring the food choices. The most important element is to be healthy and make sure the food is enjoyable. Why eat junk food just because you’re hungry, when there’s so much great food out there?
6. Disconnecting. Finally, every day I spend as much time as I can disconnected from the Internet. There are a lot of distractions out there, and I think the most important skill you can have is the ability to turn them off. Many people get caught up in rudimentary communications like checking blog comments and answering emails — this is all surface stuff in life, and doesn’t really matter. You can spend ten hours a day answering emails, and you’ll never really accomplish anything. This is why I do my best to turn it all off. I check email once a day, a few other times a day I’ll check on Twitter to see how everything is going. The rest of the day I turn it all off, and do whatever I want.
I realize this isn’t exactly what you were looking for when you asked what I did in my average day, but I hope it helps. Some people enjoy living this way, but I’ve met other people who go absolutely insane when they realize they can do everything they ever wanted.
Some days I just don’t do anything, because that’s what I feel like doing. And that’s okay, because I realize it’s important to follow my intuition about what is important to me.
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