Squeezing the best out of 24 hours

The only constant at this time in the world is Change. The technology around you, the way you do your job, travel, food habits, behavior patterns, you name it – everything is changing, faster than you could possible think. And in this fast-changing world, if you want to stay competitive and be great at what you do, it is important for you to adapt to the change and to keep pace with it. But there is only 24 hours in a day – and you need to adjust those 24 hours to squeeze the best opportunities every single day.

One way to achieve everything that you intend to do in 24 hours is to be disciplined, and to follow a plan. And follow the plan rigorously and religiously. Success comes with a price. A price that you have to pay to become what you intend to become. Sometimes you have to trade-off a weekend to achieve a target, sometimes you have to give up a meeting with your buddies, or a club day on a Saturday night; and sometimes you have to give up some sleep or adjust your sleep to get the best out of the time when you are awake.

As this is my diary I will be able to share my routine with you, as an example. I wake up 3 hours early everyday than my actual work hours. I wake up at 4 am each morning and do the thing which interests me the most. I learn new skill sets. I am into capital markets and investment banking industry, so generally you would think that the only thing I would require is a sound grasp on finance and economics. Yes, you are right, but that was the trend 7 years ago. Things now have changed rapidly, you need to know how to code, even if you are a finance person. To be different that the rest, and to do your financial analysis better and faster, you need to code algorithms. And to code algorithms you need to know various programming languages. So, the first thing I do in the morning is to stretch my body, get a cup of coffee, and learn a new programming language – or start a new module of what I was already learning. I do this every day for an hour. To keep yourself at par with the market at this point of time it is imperative for everyone to know database management, basic data analytics, and programing.

The next thing I do after an hour of programming and learning how to code, is I workout. To keep your body in shape, and to balance your mental stability you need to exercise. So around 5:15 am I drive to my gym and start my workout. I start with light cardio and end with weight training. Although exercise depends on what you feel comfortable with, you can try yoga, aerobics, swimming, etc. in other words, whatever makes your body and your mind sync together. Also, physical exercises keep your vitals in check.

After working out in the gym I drive back home around 6:15 am. And the next 15 minutes is my time when I try to disconnect from everything, to meditate and think through simple things in life. Observe breathing patterns and try to focus my energy towards one point. This is more like a mental exercise, which with practice can make you superiorly focused and smart. I never believed in this, but once I started doing it, I can very well see the change.

At 6:30 am I get ready, have my breakfast, and reach office around 7:30 am. Although majority of the jobs are 9 am to 5 pm, but one thing which can make you better every day is to love what you do, and prepare yourself to face the day, before anyone else does. The preparation phase gives you a time interval to analyze the day, see what are the things that need to be done first, helps you set goals with priorities, and also prevents you from making mistakes in the grand scheme of things. As I like to keep myself updated, I listen to the capital markets commentaries and radio in the background of my work terminals so as to catch the new innovations, activities and ideas that are going on around the world. Always remember to keep yourself open to ideas, once you close yourself you will start deteriorating. People who wants to be successful always try to listen to others, analyze and then talk. Talking always comes at the last.

I work on an average 10-12 hours each day, and obviously I get tired. But you can do a few simple tricks that I follow to fight my fatigue:

  1. Stand up after every 40 -50 minutes of your work.
  2. Have a stress ball. Just by playing with a stress ball, it can provide you an emotional stimulus of stress being ousted from your body.
  3. Take the stairs to your office, rather that the elevators – if possible.
  4. Close your eyes for a minute after every 2 hours and observe your breathing. It relaxes your mind and brings in the balance through random eye movement.

Once I am done with my office work, I drive back home. My drive from my home to office is around 40 minutes (each way), where I try to listen to an audiobook, or a radio station I like. You learn new things when you listen to people, and it also makes you aware of the things that happens around you. Once I reach back home, I relax for a bit and then go on to my next set of plans.

If you want to be successful, I believe that you have to surround yourself with successful people. One way to do that is to network with like-minded individuals. I connect with individuals from whom I can learn a thing or two, on various social platforms to network with them after office at a coffee bar or at a local pub. Networking enables you to think and know beyond what your job can teach you. Sometimes networking also help you figure out your real passion – which you might not know before you met the other person. Networking, I feel strengthens your thought process and makes you a complete professional.

The rest of the day which is generally around 3 hours (leaving aside 5 hours of my sleep time), I spend working on an idea that I really care about, and reading books. I read a lot – generally 2-3 books simultaneously. Reading not only enhances your knowledge, it also makes you a person who has things to talk about and discuss. Reading can be in any form – physical books, kindle, journals, etc. – whichever format pleases you and satisfies your intellectual hunger.

Things that I stop myself from doing in the 24 hours is to talk about people – instead I like to talk about ideas. Talking about people is a waste of time. I don’t look towards my phone a lot – I believe in one of the thoughts shared by a successful CEO – “looking down to your phone makes you miss the inspirations that you can find around yourself when you look up”. It is a profound thought, and it’s very true.

This is how I spend all my weekdays and majority of my weekends. But once a month or so, I tweak my weekend schedule to meet with my friends and party. As all my friends are successful too, they understand the time constraints, and when we meet we have the best time ever.

Just remember, that being successful is tough, and it’s a full-time job. It is difficult to reach to the top, but it is even harder to stay at the top.


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