I doubt this is useful to anyone but me, so I can see it in front of me, or those people like me who are generally interested in process and knowledge work. But, as of right now, this is how my days go:
I rise at the entirely arbitrary time of 10.15am. I immediately extract a double espresso or a ristretto from a machine and sit in my back garden with my phone.
I was telling someone the other day: I have become the old man who reads the papers in the morning and then watches the news analysis show on tv at night. The phone is now “the papers.”
With my morning coffees outside, I go through BBC News, Guardian, Economist, Bloomberg, Foreign Policy, Deadline, Reuters, the FT and Euronews on the phone, skimming the headlines and dipping into anything especially interesting to me. I’ll also read some of the newsletters that have arrived and are legible on the phone (not all of them are. Looking at you and your yellow link text, Cartoon Gravity). I only listen to music at this time, on noise-cancelling earbuds. I learned long ago that I can’t let the world explode at me the moment I wake up. I need this soft time in the mornings, to take in the overnight news and centre myself slowly.
(Or I’ll say fuckit to the news, take a Kindle outside instead and read some of a book.)
I need the noise-cancelling earbuds because the chickens like to tell me they need feeding. At volume. With furious energy.
When I get back to the office, I go through my RSS feeds and whatever other newsletters have arrived, while sinking at least 750ml of water. I will put together a morningcomputer post once I’ve thought about what I’ve learned that morning that I consider worth retaining and processing. I think I have only about eighty sites in my RSS reader these days, which generally generate some 150 new posts to read through. I should post an updated RSS list so I can see for myself.
My inputs used to be twenty times that, and constant from when I woke up to when I finally slept. That thing when you wake up with a shudder and reach for the phone because you’re behind the moment. But I suspect it took a pandemic and serial lockdowns for me to understand that, even when I was feeling good, it was like a motion detector alarm was going off in my head every second for eighteen hours a day. And you get so trained to it that when the alarms drop to just once every sixty seconds, you go looking for more input to bring the rate back up. I’ve been working hard to get past that
Once I’ve done that, I grab breakfast – a smoothie of oat milk, oats, a handful of frozen blueberries, plant-based protein powder and cacao powder. Made in a Nutribullet – I’ve had the earlier version of this one (UK) (US) for six years now with never a problem, there is nothing it cannot demolecularize, and it’s paid for itself many many times over.
Post-breakfast is my first work block of the day. I put some visual noise on the big screen if I’m not using it for work, usually an art film or a landscape documentary, muted. I play music. I have access to a wealth of music, and I use ambient, classical/ neo-classical or instrumental world musics when I’m working. Other people’s words get in the way of my own, I’ve found.
No news. Once I’m done with the morningcomputer post, no new news enters my space. This has become very important to me. I’m no longer on social media, so I don’t have any intrusion from that whole thing, and access to my email is limited.
Organisation is simple and physical – marks on whiteboards and paper.
My first work block is a couple of hours, give or take. I’ll watch something – a tv episode, part of a film – while eating lunch, which is either cold meats with cheese and bread or something with eggs. I keep it simple. Also I have constant access to eggs, as mentioned above.
Second work block goes until 5pm, with coffee and fruit. Again, no news. I do leave email on in the background at this point, and it pops the occasional notification in the bottom right hand of the screen. (Hi there, The Bloomberg Close.) I treat it like a stray thought in meditation – acknowledge it happened, let it pass, go back to what I was doing. It’s probably not ideal? But I’m still me, and still working on it.
Around 5pm, I down tools, go downstairs, pour a drink, and that’s it for a few hours. I’ll catch up with news, spend time with some of the longer pieces, cook dinner and generally do nothing. Creating a hard break with work posture.
Around 8pm, I will usually pick up a notebook, and write in it until midnight. Never continuing what I was doing in the office, but working on something different, thinking of something new or just emptying my head. If that’s not working, I’ll pick up the Kindle and read a book. Never wasted time. I’ll pause to watch as much of Newsnight or Peston as I can stand. At midnight, I go to bed and read until 2am tops. I usually get through a book a week like that.
I suspect I may come back and edit this.