6:30am in Kuala Lumpur. Wide awake. For years I self-identified as a night owl. I’m not sure what changed, but a few years ago I started getting up before 7 and have never looked back. Early morning is my favorite time of day. I typically take 30-45 minutes to drink water, make coffee, and plan my day. I try not to look at my phone or computer during this time, as I like to think about my day proactively, rather than reacting to my usually full inboxes.
I didn’t prioritize exercise for a long time. Probably one of my only regrets. About a year ago I started exercising again regularly, and the benefits have been incredible. I already cycle for transportation, but 5 days a week I head to the gym and lift. Today, the gym is 17 floors down from my Airbnb condo. I take the stairs instead of the elevator to get my heart rate up and my body loose. Starting the morning with high-intensity exercise is my number one catalyst for productivity and focus.
I find that mornings are my most productive time of day, so I do my best to complete all of my most difficult and most important tasks before lunch. I used to think that I need a full work day to accomplish the most crucial tasks. I’ve now realized that the combination of a good workout and some self-control, I can accomplish all of my important work in just a few hours.
I close my browser, switch my phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode, and put my head down for 20–45 minutes of high-focus work on one task. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in a short amount of time with razor focus (the workout definitely helps in this department as well). After 20–45 minutes, I’ll take 5–15 minutes of break to refill my cup of water, walk around the apartment, and do a few pushups. Rinse and repeat.
Admin & Coffee
Once I’ve completed my most important tasks, I leave the house on my Brompton folding bike (the bike travel everywhere with me). Lunch is usually a quick meal of rice and vegetables before I walk to a café and order an espresso. I spend the afternoon accomplishing low-intensity tasks such as email, bookkeeping, scheduling, travel planning, etc. Sometimes I spend the whole afternoon at the café, sometimes it’s just an hour.
Home Sweet Globe
Evenings are generally quiet. I’ll go out for dinner with my wife. There’s a good chance we’ll be joined by other nomads too. After 3–4 years on the road, we seem to have friends in almost every city we visit, so we like to meet up for meals. Neither of us are big drinkers, but we might indulge in a quiet whiskey, glass of wine, or cold beer after dinner. As I’m an early riser, I like to be in bed by 10:30pm most nights, which means we generally go home after one drink. I enjoy listening to a podcast or audiobook before bed, or sometimes we’ll watch an episode of a TV show on Netflix.
By the end of the day, I have no trouble falling asleep in less than 5 minutes, and I’m usually excited to wake up to work again in the morning! My day might seem pretty simple or even boring, but there’s no way to adequately describe the joy of living a life of freedom. I pretty much do exactly what I want from the moment I wake to the moment I sleep. I love my work, and I love being able to do it from anywhere. Kuala Lumpur this week, Beijing next week. No matter where I am, my daily routine stays the same. And I love it.