“It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
I often got asked by my readers and friends: how come you have extra hours to do so many things: write two newsletters (Chinese and English), run a podcast show Chiwi Journal, publish novels (Chinese and English), bootstrap a business, work for a big corporate, read 50+ books a year, play Fantasy Premier League games, translate foreign texts into Chinese and still have ‘me’ time and social life?
My secret draws down to one name: Winston Churchill.
I read many history books that featured Winston Churchill and have admired his leadership style and literature attainments since I was young.
In his lifetime, Winston Churchill published more than 40 books with over 10 million words, won the Nobel Prize for Literature, painted 500+ pictures, delivered 2,300+ speeches... And, of course, he was a busy politician who led Britain to victory in World War II.
So, what made him super productive?
Answer: having a daily routine and hobbies.
Looking at Churchill’s day: he woke up, took a hot bath, and spent two hours writing and working. Around noon he greeted his wife (Churchill believed the secret to maintaining a good marriage was not to see your lover before noon) and enjoyed lunch.
After the meal, he took a walk around the house, fed swans and fish, then sat in silence and meditated or read poetry. Around 3 pm, he took a nap and woke up at 5 pm to spend time with his family.
Later, he would take a bath, dress for dinner around 8 pm, and continue writing or working before bed.
Day after day, year after year.
Apart from writing, Churchill developed two hobbies during the war to relieve stress: bricklaying and oil painting.
Although his skills would not reach the professional level, his hobbies provide him with a solitary mind to think clearly and to cope with political disappointments when he was voted out of the parliament after WWII.
Back to me, I built up my daily routine since I was in high school and reviewed and optimised my system on different life stages. Just like Churchill, I also developed many hobbies such as football, painting, singing, stage performance, calligraphy and dancing to help me with emotional stability and live a full life.
As Dan Heath said in his bestseller Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen, we have to tackle the problem at its roots. In this case, we need to look at how we spend our time first and then decide how to use time more effectively.
First, let me share how I spend my day:
24 hours a day
Once you know your time allowance, you can prioritise or arrange the time based on different projects and situations and follow your daily routine accordingly.
And then, here comes my daily routine:
When it comes to the deep work, the bestselling author and peak performance expert Steven Kotler has summarised well in The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer.
You have to master the 4-stage sequence to enter the Flow State:
We all heard about Flow State, but not many scholars could explain it as clearly as Kotler does. He decodes Flow State at its fundamental level with support evidence from neuroscience and psychology subjects. I highly recommend you to understand the foundation of Flow State from his book and follow the sequence to enter the deep work.
I also wrote a book review of Indistractable by Nir Eyal to share how our emotions get in the way, preventing us from doing deep work. The tactics include journaling and meditation that might help as well.
"If you want to do it, you do it. There are no excuses."
If you are a high-agency person like me, here are my two cents on living a productive, ambitious and creative life.
Only one enemy is standing in the way to prevent you from becoming who you are.
You know the answer, right? Just set yourself free by doing it, my friends!