Focus and energy

A guide to prioritizing what's important and developing a sense of calm in routines

Work balance

Schedule work based on making or managing


  • Focused on craft — core, meangingful work
  • Requires uninterrupted flow state
  • Set aside 1-3 hours at a time for
  • Requires clearing your calendar


  • Focused on strategy
  • Requires regular interruptions — meetings, phone calls, email responses
  • Batch multiple tasks to focus on
  • Requires filling up your calendar

Getting Things Done

  • Get everything you need to do out of your head and into a system of lists
  • Define and prioritize tangible next steps to do now
  • Keep track of projects that need to be worked on later
  • Store ideas and goals to come back to in the future
  • Use simple tools and systems; don't depend on any one tool to get things done


  • Set time aside to deal with once a day; best for end of the day
  • Try to respond with some kind of response each time you read an email
  • Work to empty inbox once a week


  • Always have a clear agenda defined
  • Send out items needing review before meeting, or set time aside at beginning of the meeting to review

Having and maintaining energy

Habits and routine

  • Habits are the choices that all of us deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day; It's behavior that becomes automatic
  • Habit is like water: water hollows out for itself a channel, which grows broader and deeper over time; even after having ceased to flow, it resumes, when it flows again, the path traced by itself before
  • Habits can be changed
  • The brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit because habits allow our minds to ramp down
  • When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making
  • Habits create neurological cravings
  • Small habits compound over time

A standard day

What an optimal 24-hour workday can look like.

8 hrs Work

3-4 hrs
Focused flow

  • Uninterrupted task or batch of tasks
  • Top goal for the day

3-4 hrs

  • Emails
  • Phone calls
  • Errands
  • Etc

1-2 hrs Breaks

  • 5-10 min Short break every 1-2 hours
  • 1 hr Lunch

8 hrs Leisure

4-6 hrs
Activities – pick 3

  • TV/unwind/relax
  • Reading
  • Chores and errands
  • Family and friends
  • Hobby (ex: practice playing piano)

2 hrs Misc

8 hrs Sleep

7-8 hrs
Uninterrupted sleep

  • Best during the night
  • Try waking up between 6-8am
  • Don't interrupt your sleep with an alarm (plan for enough hours and you'll wake up before your alarm goes off)
  • Avoid screen time an hour before going to bed

30 min Optional nap during the day

Leisure time

Focus on your personal growth and well-being, spend time with family and friends.

The weekend

  • Rest and relax
  • Explore personal interests
  • Read news weekly (not daily) – consider focusing attention on specific sections: science, business, arts, etc
  • 1-2 hrs Think – review your day/week and prepare for upcoming day/week
  • Read books
  • Spend time with family, friends


  • Plentiful and cheap, there is just not enough time for it all
  • Rule of thumb: enjoy something that speaks to you – is it "knowable and true"?
  • 2 hrs Movie
  • 10-20 hrs TV show, each season
  • 60 hrs Long form video game
  • Activities and hobbies

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