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    How I've designed my day for creativity, clarity, and enjoyment

    By Kieran Drew

    I grew up in a military school, so I love discipline and routine.

    But I always believed creativity was about throwing the structured life in the trash, picturing an electrified-looking Einstein or an earless Van Gogh.

    Turns out, many clear thinkers swear by constraints to produce great work. This is because the world will devour your time if you don't protect it for what's most important:

    Learning, thinking, creating.

    That's why I've been tinkering and testing with my routine over the past few years.

    A lot of this has felt like procrastination. But I've recently enjoyed breakthroughs and insights that wouldn't have been possible two years ago. Today I want to share an average day, which is split into three themes:

    1. Deep creative work in the morning
    2. Mid-leverage work and learning in the afternoon
    3. Low-leverage work and relaxing in the evening

    Let's dive in.

    The mornings

    Thinking time

    As a dentist, I'd wake up at 7.30am, blearily slap the alarm, gulp down too-hot tea only to waste away in rush hour traffic.

    When I found writing, I vowed to start the day building my dream instead of my boss's — hoping that if I wrote for 2 hours every morning, something would eventually happen.

    Fast-forward three years, and I'm fully addicted to early mornings. I wake up at 5 a.m. because there's something special about writing while the world sleeps.

    But before I write, I set a timer for 20 minutes, sit with my journal, and think.

    ‘Thinking time’ is one of the highest ROI activities you can do. Why? Because ideas need nurturing if you want them to blossom, and to make good decisions, you must make time to reflect.

    Like a typical internet bro, I take an ice-cold shower before.

    Two reasons:

    1. I'm a fan of Stoicism, voluntary hardship being a core principle for building your character
    2. The adrenaline leads to more clarity and creativity, which helps with the writing

    Let's talk about deep work.

    The magic of deep work

    Your creative career can be split into two lives:

    Before you discover deep work, and after.

    Most of us are used to days filled with distractions: calls, meetings, emails, and social media.

    But if you set aside time to work intensely on one thing with zero distractions, you can get a staggering amount done.

    I split my day into four 90 minute deep work sessions.

    I've tried the classic Pomodoro (25 work 5 minute rest), but it's terrible for writing because it often takes 20 minutes to get into the flow.

    Huberman suggests 90 minutes — long enough to get your creative juices flowing but not so long you exhaust yourself.

    But the real magic is what you do in between sessions.

    I used to check Twitter, answer messages, and flick through emails. But this isn’t rest, which means the next work block is considerably less productive.

    Between the first two sessions, I take a 20-minute walk and (hopefully) get some morning sunlight to help with sleep later. I then head home and dive into block two for more writing.

    By now I'm mentally exhausted.

    So I’ll exercise (weights or running) and then read for 10-20 minutes. This refreshes me enough to do another 90 minutes of intense work.

    The endorphins help, but it’s usually not as productive as the first two sessions (if my writing sucks, I’ll take on a less demanding business task).

    My most important rule: No social media, email or calls until after the third deep work block

    I want to. Hell, by block three, my mind is screaming to suck on that digital dopamine crackpipe.

    But I’ll be honest: I’ve been terrified at how much of life has disappeared in a blink of an eye (or in this case, a scroll of a phone).

    Recently, I've been following Rick Rubin’s advice and trying to be entirely present with what I do.

    I’ve been strict with this since November 2023, and my:

    • Focus
    • Presence
    • Creativity
    • Happiness

    Have never been better.

    Excitingly, time’s slowed way down, too.

    I have a few rules for business:

    Unless urgent, I only reply to emails on Monday afternoon. I refuse to take business calls before 2 pm or after 5 pm. What’s more, I only take 1-2 calls a week, and never on Monday or Friday (because why the hell not, eh).

    I could make more money if I broke these constraints, but it would take me away from doing what I love: writing, reading, and thinking (I'd imagine these habits will prove more fruitful in the long run anyway).

    A note on caffeine and fasting

    I’ve experimented with fasting and caffeine.

    Eating ruins my focus, so I break my fast after the third deep work session (around 1-2pm).

    I also drink buckets of Yorkshire Tea, but I stop before midday and have no caffeine until 90 minutes after waking. This helps avoid the afternoon slump.

    Again, check out Huberman on this.

    The afternoon

    The mistake I used to make was trying to maintain an intense work pace.

    I’d be a zombie by 7 pm, and each day end up more tired than the last.

    Here's the truth:

    The 9-5 work style is a relic of the industrial age. Creativity is more important than productivity, which means rest ethic is as important as work ethic.

    If you're like me, doing less is tough. I've never been talented, so I wrapped my identity in 'how hard I could grind'.

    No bueno.

    Long-term, that's a losers game.

    I'll watch YouTube while having lunch. Usually an interview, non work-related, and if I have a call booked, I'll relax until then.

    If not, I do another 60-90 minutes 'lower leverage' work — this is the stuff you don't need creative energy for. Forms to fill out. Messages to reply to.

    You know, 'busy work'.

    I listen to music to make this more fun and finish with social media as a reward for a well-done day (and only on my laptop, my phone has no email or social 24/7 — would highly recommend this).

    The evening

    Around 4 pm, I take a 60-90 minute stroll along the river.

    Half the time I listen to podcasts or audiobooks. The other, silence. I also take most of my calls walking because it's so good for your health, thinking, and creativity.

    Once home, I'll watch 45 minutes of T.V. during dinner — I'm trying to watch more documentaries and less Netflix this year, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

    (I love history, space, and human nature the most).

    Finally, I read for 2-3 hours.

    I've done this for as long as I can remember. I love books. Nothing makes me happier, calmer, or more inspired than diving into someone else’s mind.

    It's one reason I quit dentistry to write. I figured if reading makes me feel this good, imagine what it would be like to spend my day writing (hint: ‘twas a good bet).

    A tip for reading longer:

    Read several books at once.

    I flick through like I'm watching T.V — starting with a practical book, something like copywriting, marketing, or business.

    When I get bored, I move to a 'curious book', usually philosophy, history, or human nature.

    And I finish with fantasy or historical fiction (I’m a sucker for sword fights and find fiction to be a great way to learn about people, the world, and spark great ideas).

    And that's a wrap, my friend.

    I appreciate this might’ve sounded like Patrick Bateman describing his routine in American Psycho, but hopefully, it was useful.

    To reiterate: be strict with your time.

    With yourself, but more importantly, with other people. You only have so much creative energy, invest it wisely.

    Plus, nobody can compete with you if you’re having fun all day.

    So make sure you are.

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    Kieran Drew

    About Kieran

    Ex dentist, current writer, future Onlyfans star · Sharing what I learn about writing well, thinking clearly, and building an online business