A daily rhythm can serve as the metronome for the song of your life.
I first learned about setting a daily rhythm through Waldorf education. By providing a regular daily series of events, a child can easily transition from one stage to the next.
Having three small children in a small house, we created a wonderful daily rhythm, allowing everyone to do the things they love to do every day.
5:00 AM – Awaken
The first thing I do every single day is lie in bed and think about all the things I am grateful for, rolling my gratitudes around in my mind like a candy that I savor.
Fuzzy-headed and exalted with gratitude, I take a hot shower, marveling at the engineering and manpower that has led to my casual command that water should fall from the sky.
6:00 AM – Meditate
I dress, in simple garb, and make my way out into the wilds of Costa Rica.
Here and there, on the jungle-covered mountain where I live, I have carved out little pouches where I can meditate in the morning.
You can read more about my morning meditation routine here.
6:45 am -Breakfast
One of the greatest joys of my life is having breakfast made for me every morning.
When I return from my morning meditation, my wife has made hot black coffee, scrambled eggs, fruits and vegetables, and all three of my children sit around our table. We sing of our gratitude together, laughing and feasting.
7:15 am – Playtime / Dance time
Johanna is a Nia teacher, and teaches weekly dance classes here in Costa Rica. To study the routines that compose her classes, she spends time by herself every morning with no children. (After all, she did just make breakfast with three groggy children and no husband to help – she is due for some alone time.)
While she dances, I play with the kids. We build train tracks, we go on treasure hunts, we kick balls, we draw pictures. It is the most fun, unstructured part of my day.
8:30 am – work
Johanna has had time to get her day started, exercise, and study. I have had time to meditate, eat, and play. It’s time to get to work.
I set up a table on our porch, open my laptop, and tend to the projects of the day.
(If you’re wondering what I do for a living, you should check out my portfolio.)
I have time for two 90-minute blocks of productivity in the morning, with a short break. I’ve adopted this production cycle because it’s backed up by science.
12:00 pm – Exercise
In my former cubicle life, I always felt like I was playing hooky when I skipped out to go exercise midday. That’s because I had to commute to the gym, change clothes, shower, and take a couple of hours from start to finish just to get a quick workout.
Nowadays, I know how to jump into short, easy workouts without compromising half of my day.
Lately I’ve been rotating between the first 20 minutes of my favorite P90X routines – Plyometrics, Chest and Back, and Cardio. They all give me a warmup and some resistance training, and done regularly, I don’t need to dedicate myself to completing an entire hour-long routine to see the benefits.
12:45 pm – back to work
If I can fit in a quick shower and scarf some lunch without too much dallying, then I have time for another two full 90 minute blocks of productivity.
One for this client, one for that client, and a few minutes surfing Facebook in between.
4:00 pm – Family Time
The laptop shuts, I light some incense, and I move right into Daddy Time.
What I do next depends on what the children need that day. Maybe Johanna is fried and needs a break, so I put shoes on the kids and we go explore in the jungle. Maybe everyone is tired, and I read a story. Maybe we all pile into the car and go somewhere. Maybe we hang out on the porch and dance.
5:00 pm – Dinner
Every night at the dinner table, we take turns talking about the best part of our day.
(Sitting down to dinner with my family is often the best part of my day.)
We have lots of fresh vegetables, and sometimes Johanna makes a power soup with everything nutritious and healthy blended in the Vitamix. It makes me feel nourished as soon as it touches my lips.
After we feast, we take our dishes to the sink and feed the dogs.
6:00 pm – Dance Party
The kids love dancing, and loud Nia music has become the soundtrack of their childhood.
We have open tile floors, and precious little furniture, so our house is a perfect dance floor. The kids get to express themselves physically, and play with their parents (sometimes acrobatically), getting out the last of their wiggles before the end of the day.
6:30 pm – Bedtime for kiddos
I put Taos into my sling and walk him along the mountainside while the sun is setting. We listen to the sounds of dusk together, and he falls asleep strapped to my chest. It’s precious.
Johanna brushes teeth and tells stories to the big kids in bed. Every night I come in and lay Taos down quietly while Indilea and Zaden are drifting off to sleep.
7:00 pm – 8 Minute Abs
As if there wasn’t enough exercise in my daily rhythm, right?
I found that inserting a quick, short workout here really preps me mentally for the final stage of my day. Having a strong core through daily conditioning also helps me with my yoga and meditation, too.
7:15 pm – Back to Work
After checking my email (and, briefly, Facebook) I get in one more 90-minute block before the end of the day, bringing my total active productivity for the day to 7.5 hours.
Not bad for also fitting in three workouts, meditation time, and two meals with my family.
9:00 pm – Shut the Laptop
This has been the key step in maintaining my daily rhythm.
After 9 pm, I can read a paper book, or take a bath, or talk with my wife, but I can’t have any more screen time.
I spend so much time in front of a screen throughout the day, I need an active deceleration to wind my mind down enough to fall asleep. Anytime I go beyond this 9 pm barrier, it is difficult to rise so early, and keep living this life I have earned through my daily rhythm. The culmination of all of these events is too valuable to me; staying up late, foggy headed, wasting time on Quickmeme is not how I want to spend my life.
This daily rhythm is how I spend my life.
Compared to that, going to bed early (and waking up early) is easy.