A month ago, I’ve started a 30 days no stats challenge. The reason for that was my obsessive number checking at Google Analytics, Medium and Mail Chimp. If I had any books on sale, I would’ve been checking these numbers, as well.
I was addicted to stats checking. Each time my numbers would grow I would get a dopamine injection and I would be happy for some time. When my numbers dropped, I would feel either depressed or ready to do something to increase them. That was absurd, and it affected my attention span. So, I decided to quit it for 30 days.
One of my main features is that I go cold turkey, whatever the change it is. Nutrition, exercise, job, habits. I either do it all the way, or I don’t do it at all.
With stats checking, it wasn’t as easy as I expected. Namely, I failed the first day. It felt like trying to quit smoking all over again. It lead me to understanding how seriously addicted I was to that action, and it meant that some drastic measures needed to be taken.
It also meant that I had a way too much free, or shall I say – unblocked, unplanned time. So, I decided to keep myself busier and more focused.
Building my daily routine from scratch
First thing I did was to redesign my time blocks.
I started by listing all the important activities related to my business and wellbeing. I also added the activities I can’t avoid, like my day job.
- Exercise (which was new)
- Fiction Writing
- Writing a blog post in English
- Writing a blog post in Serbian
- Writing a Medium Article
- Listening to Podcast
- Checking emails and stats
- Writing an Email Newsletter for my Fiction Mailing List
Due the nature of my teaching job I have three models for scheduling my day. One is for weekends (when I’m the busiest at school), one is for my days off, and the third is for regular weekdays, when I have plenty of free time in the school’s office.
An example of one of my regular weekdays.
I wake up at 4:00 and it takes me 30 minutes to finish my exercise, but I give myself an hour for that because there are certain things which need to be done before hitting the gym.
4:00 – 5:00 – exercise + daily tasks planning
5:30 – 7:30 – fiction writing
7:30 – 8:30 – writing a blog post in English
8:30 – 9:00 – check email and stats
9:00 – 11:00 – groceries, cooking and spending time with my family
11:00 – 11:30 – lunch
12:00 – 13:00 – go to the school’s office and write a blog post in Serbian
13:00 – 17:00 – Prepare classes, use any free time for extra reading, blogging, writing, or marketing.
17:00 – 18:00 – class time
18:00 – 19:00 – read
19:00 – 20:00 – class time
20:00 – 21:00 – meditate
21:00 – 04:00 – sleep
I exercise 4 times per week and during the 3 days when I don’t exercise I listen to podcasts.
I write 3 blog posts per week in Serbian, so during 4 other days I squeeze an extra hour of reading or anything else which needs attention.
Each week I have two days off (Tuesday and Wednesday). On Tuesday, I write a Medium article (which tends to be longer) and on Wednesday I write an email for my Reader’s Group.
During my days off, I finish all my tasks at 15:00 so I could spend time with my family.
During the weekends, I go to the school’s office at 8:30, and usually I have 6 classes each day, which doesn’t leave me with much free time, and I spend my lunch break reading. I finish at 18:15 and spend the rest of the remaining two hours with my family.
The positive effects of time blocks
I’ve been building time blocks for my task for over 6 months now, and it revolutionized the way I function and it enabled me to be more productive.
However, time blocks always need some tweaking and that’s exactly what I did this time.
The best thing about time blocks is that I’m able to focus on a single task at a time and having a pre-built schedule enables me to instantly know which task I’m supposed to do at any given hour. I either look at my whiteboard attached to the wall behind my desk, or I check my Google Calendar.
Break your tasks
To make my time blocks even more efficient, it is important to break my task into tiny pieces.
For example, if it’s fiction writing it might be anything from writing 500-2000 words to editing a chapter.
If I write a blog, my tasks look like this: outline (concept + research), – first draft – editing – copy editing – proofreading – metadata – publishing.
I add all these steps in my Google Tasks, and cross them out one by one after I finish them.
Using this method enables me to be more focused and more productive.
In three weeks I’ve read four books, redesigned my website, build another website for my pen name, build 3 landing pages, on the way to build another one, edited and published an old short story, translated that story, edited, created an ebook, and on the way to publish it, wrote over 20 articles, and an equal amount of emails, read a countless number of medium articles, blog posts, newsletters, listened to 10+ one hour podcast episodes, and I might have forgotten something.
So far, I haven‘t found any negative side effects but here are some positive:
- I don’t crave for YouTube, social media, or even stats checking. I do have blocked time for stats, and that’s when I check them.
- I’m way less stressed and I feel good about myself when I have a list of things which I’ve done during the day.
- I rarely check my phone during my family time since that time is blocked for them and I’ve already done all my checking.
- I even added some extra free time for watching movies and YouTube videos.