This post is a bit longer (3K words), but there’s a lot of value and experience in it. You can learn from my mistakes and the things I’ve found to work best in terms of productivity, personal organization, working from home, finding focus and hustling while living the laptop lifestyle. I’ll share with you my very best practices.
I’ve read so much on productivity, habits and personal development, that at any moment I have a few new things to try out – strategies, tips, steps to take – if things aren’t working for me and I’m not seeing results.
But nothing beats trying it for yourself and seeing what works best for you. Especially when you’re on a journey to living a life on your own terms.
Making a living online doing what I love is one of the best and hardest things I’ve tried. And although I’m nowhere near where I want to be when it comes to income, I’ve succeeded in structuring the perfect day for myself which can keep me super productive, motivated and disciplined.
It may not be what you’re looking for, but it can give you a tip or two, you can enjoy a small habit I’ve built and maybe try it out, or even copy a part of my day or a few of my best practices.
I can say for sure that from all that I’ve read online, what I enjoyed the most is how successful people share their whole day – their rituals, the time they wake up and go to bed, the habits they have, the productivity hacks they use to work less and achieve more, etc.
That’s why I created this post and am sharing it with you – it can be very helpful if you’re not satisfied with how your day goes while working (be it from home or at the office).
Besides the many benefits of the Internet lifestyle, there are also traps we can easily fall into – like sleeping in, being lazy all day, getting distracted while trying to work, not being organized, spending too much time in unproductive activities, and so on.
For the past 3-4 years I’ve experimented a lot and am quite happy with the way my average day goes now and how much I get done without feeling tired or bored.
The best thing I’ve come up with is having 4 (or 5-6) hours in the first part of the day dedicated only to serious stuff – it’s my sacred time. You’ll see why below.
So here’s what my day usually looks like:
The Laptop Lifestyle and My Best Practices
1. Set working hours.
That’s key. Without it, you’re lost.
There are exceptions, of course – some people are that good and have so much self-control that they can get to work and focus whenever they decide to. Others prefer to work around 15 hours in a day, then chill and do minor tasks in the next few while they’re still awake.
But for the rest, setting working hours is crucial. That’s the first step to discipline and organization as each morning (or whenever you’re most productive and working) you’ll know when to get to work and leave the rest of the world behind, you’ll know when to arrange meetings or other stuff for your free time as it will be before/after your working hours.
2. Find your most productive time and do the hardest and most important work then.
For me, that’s the very first part of the day.
I’ve proven to myself that I’m super productive between 8-9 and 12-14 so it’s my duty to use it to my advantage.
For most people it’s the (usually early) morning. But experiment, and if you find out that you can get more things done with less effort or even faster in the afternoon, in the evening, or even at night, then structure your day around it and let that be your priority.
3. No distractions during that time.
I’m serious about that.
Here’s what I mean:
- no emails or social media;
- no phone calls (unless it’s for work) or even small chats with relatives or friends;
- no reading or checking out random stuff on the Internet;
- not thinking about life goals and other general stuff (it’s good, but will be done later);
- no noises;
- no eating (that too is a distraction, makes you sleepy, lazy and definitely kills your productivity);
- not thinking about what you’ll need to get done later;
- not doing chores or secondary tasks;
- no clutter;
It’s time for work. And without laser focus, you won’t achieve any satisfying results.
4. After that I have a 1-3-hour lunch break.
During which time I eat (Yes, no food before that. I’ll talk more about that later.), go out to run an errand, check email or social media, do tasks related to work that aren’t necessary and are often considered unproductive (checking stats, reading, doing a quick research, etc.)
5. I start the day with a glass of water and coffee.
I’ve tried out many morning routines over the years that included all of the successful elements – meditation, workout, making a to-do list and planning out the day, healthy breakfast, reading and writing, positive affirmations, etc.
Each works and helps you improve every other area of your life too if you have the right mindset. Otherwise, it will feel like an effort and an obligation, and starting the day with something you don’t want to do isn’t one of the best practices.
And while I still do these every now and then, right now my priority is working from home and doubling my results and income, so almost everything else I do is with this goal in mind.
I’ve found out that getting up (early, of course – sleeping in is not an option), giving myself half an hour to stretch, go to the bathroom, wash my face and make my bed, getting a glass of water and making coffee, and turning on the laptop, works wonders.
Each of these has a purpose:
- some time ago I learned that to get the metabolism started in the morning you can either have something to eat or drink a glass of water. The body doesn’t really make a difference, it just has to be first thing in the morning;
- food is a big distraction for me and without it I work much better, I also don’t even think about it while in front of the laptop;
- I’m not such a coffee lover, but let’s say it’s part of my working ritual – the process of making it and putting it on my desk right before I get to work, and then drinking it in small sips every now and then, makes me feel like a real worker and the smell makes the morning even more pleasant;
- half an hour between leaving bed and getting to the workplace is the perfect period to great the day, do some basic stuff and set myself up for a productive work day;
- your mindset is important – I get up with a light smile on my face and I keep it throughout the whole day (or at least for the first part as usually small problems and pressure come when I start doing the usual daily things, communicate with people, hear about their problems, and just get back to reality).
But right before I get to my desk, I’ve accepted that for the next 4 hours nothing else will matter, and I’m happy about it as it’s what I love doing and am grateful I can do it from home.
6. I start by looking at my to-do list and notes.
I’ve got more than one to-do list. To this day I refer to it as the simplest, yet most powerful productivity technique.
I often read about successful startup guys, entrepreneurs and millionaires and almost every one of them writes down the things he has to do, what’s on his mind and everything that needs to be remembered in general. That appears to be one of their best practices.
Because of that, I don’t need to rely on my memory, I never miss important things – even tiny tasks.
And checking this list and getting a picture of what you have to do today is a great way to get to work, to decide where to start and even plan out what to get done till the end of the day.
7. I’m standing in front of the laptop for the first 4 hours.
Let’s call these 4 hours the first shift.
So why am I standing?
- that’s how I stay active – working online requires us to stay in front of the screen for hours, and thus be less active than the average person. And even though I make time for a daily workout, it’s still not enough;
- it lets me stay focused;
- sitting for a long time makes me sleepy and lazier;
- I’m imitating using a standing desk – I will get one eventually, but until then I’ve made one myself with a pile of books. It’s quite comfortable actually;
- I feel more like a serious worker;
- it’s good for my posture;
- it increases productivity.
8. The first shift is done on an empty stomach.
That’s a golden rule for me and one of my best practices, so I’m not changing it any time soon.
Like I said, food is a huge distraction for me. I feel tired after it, and lose focus. And I can’t afford that in the first part of the day.
But if I don’t eat for the first 5 hours, I feel great.
In fact, I realized that this helps me eat less during the day in general.
My mind is clear, I’ve accepted the fact that I will be eating at lunch and don’t think about it, I don’t feel full and I get a lot of work done.
9. I drink water all the time during the 4 sacred hours.
It actually adds up to 1 liter, which is great for my health and my new goal of making my water intake 2 l. per day.
My rule is simply to have a glass of water next to me all the time while working, and to go fill it when it’s empty.
I feel super fresh because of that and I’m sure it makes my mind clearer too. So that’s another one of the best practices I suggest you try.
10. No communication with others before and during the first shift.
I don’t talk with family, friends or other people (outside my business) in this first part of the day as I tend to lose focus when chatting and thinking about people’s issues (unless something urgent comes up, of course).
But usually it’s just people texting and calling for a quick chat, or wanting to check in on you, or to tell you something unimportant.
I do these later in the day.
11. I keep my desk organized.
I’ve created a nice atmosphere, put everything back to its place and try to keep things simple and decluttered.
I let natural light in, have dedicated my desk only to work and keep it clean.
12. Waiting for inspiration and motivation is not an obstacle anymore.
I don’t waste time trying to get inspired and motivated anymore.
Long time ago I realized that inspiration is a constant state I can be in, and motivation follows me around as I always have positive images in my head, my environment is made for success and I’m confident that if I keep working hard enough on my current and future projects – which is stuff I believe in – there’s no other option but to achieve more.
13. There’s a second shift later in the day.
After the lunch break, I get back to the computer for a few more hours. I can do it in 2 parts if I want to, or even make it 6 (with many small breaks in-between).
Everything important is done by now (people usually think only an 8-hour shift can do, but the truth is that most of the time they are doing unnecessary tasks, waste time in unproductive activities and don’t focus on what’s important).
So now I may be editing posts, books or audio content (for my podcast and audiobooks), formatting and proofreading, writing new ones, connecting with influencers, sending a guest post, joining new publishing platforms or affiliate networks, writing stuff for clients that doesn’t require that much thinking and focus, making changes to my niche sites while brainstorming ideas, seeing what others have done and trying new stuff connected to design, conversion optimization and traffic growth, doing my research, marketing and social media activities, etc.
I can also read anything related to Internet marketing, self-publishing, freelancing and building digital businesses, and immediately make a plan on how to implement some of the tips and see if there’s any result.
14. What makes me that productive during the 4 sacred hours?
Now let’s summarize the reasons why the first shift is crucial for me:
- I’m inspired by the early morning;
- no one distracts me;
- I haven’t wasted any willpower for daily decisions yet;
- empty stomach;
- I feel accomplished by lunch and that motivates me to keep going;
- I have the energy to be standing while working;
- I feel good about not eating, drinking plenty of water and keeping it active (by not sitting);
- I know most successful people are doing the same right now and I feel like pushing even harder;
- I know I can take a break at any moment, but I don’t. Just the thought of it is enough. (I only allow myself to go to the toilet, make coffee and get water during these 4 hours);
- I feel like a disciplined worker, but am still the one in charge, doing what I love and being in the comfort of my home (or wherever I am, if traveling).
15. I track everything I do.
From what I’ve heard, most successful people do this.
I track many of my habits too, but now I’m talking about the things I do connected to my work.
It’s useful as I can always go back to them, see the big picture – sometimes you may think you’re being productive but in the end you don’t have much work done.
Tracking is something I enjoy too and definitely one of my best practices.
Related: What I’m Currently Tracking
16. I don’t think about stuff other than my business while working.
It’s all about my projects, blogs and sites, freelancing, clients, writing and editing, self-publishing and online marketing in general.
Anything else can wait till later.
I also don’t hang on Facebook, read articles, listen to podcasts or assess short and long term goals during the first 4 hours (and although the last few are directly related to my personal development and moving forward in life, they should be done in the free time or in the second shift if there’s nothing more important to do).
17. It doesn’t matter if it’s the weekend or not.
Working from home is so comfortable, easier and doesn’t need to be 8 hours of hard work, so I do what I do during the weekend too.
If there’s a trip on the cards, going out or a special occasion, I can also work harder in the end of the workweek (or make up for it afterwards) and easily take a day or a few off (and a week or a month with all the freedom and independence that go together with self-employment, but that’s not what I want).
But just because it’s Saturday, it doesn’t mean that I have to sleep in and chill all day.
In fact, I work more on weekends.
18. Reading at least 1-2 informative articles a day.
I read stuff on the best blogs about Internet Marketing, productivity, blogging, publishing, location independence, successful habits, how others have succeeded and hacking all areas of life all the time.
But I’ve also made it a rule to read at least 1 or 2 long, informative articles from an expert (or listen to a podcast) after which I can set a new goal, make an immediate change on my sites or to a monetization or growth strategy, start a new habit, etc.
Also, it inspires me, motivates me and lets me stay focused on what I want to achieve. Plus, learning from other people’s mistakes is a smart way not to try things that don’t work.
19. Why 4 sacred hours?
It’s my magical number because I’ve found out I can stay focused on serious work for that long without getting even slightly bored. What’s more, I get enough done during that time, it fits my daily schedule perfectly (as it’s in the first part of the day and I have a proper break after it), and later in the day I keep working on other things and have the freedom to do anything I feel like.
If you still haven’t found your sacred time, you can try something like that and turn it into one of your best practices and daily rituals.
20. I love it!
I enjoy the whole process, always keep my WHY in mind, remind myself that this is exactly what I want to be doing and appreciate the fact that I have the chance to work from home on things I like and believe in.
So I think I covered everything in these 20 points.
Now it’s your turn.
If you’re living the laptop lifestyle, let me know what your best practices are, what makes you less productive, and what you can do about it.
And if you have any advice on how I can make my workday more successful, please share it in the comments below. I’d appreciate it.
Full-time freelance writer. Lifestyle designer.
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