What saved me from going insane while solo traveling is the same thing that makes me get shit done in my day-to-day work life.
Yes, I have a massive list of productivity rituals and tools, but more than putting my phone in airplane mode or scheduling my time, this one sets the tone for the day.
And the realization started while solo traveling last year.
If you’re backpacking and doing it right, it’s chaos.
There’s no schedule.
There’s no base of operation.
There are no rules.
For my analytical productivity-oriented mind, this was a difficult switch.
I felt untethered from reality.
I would see facts of life while traveling like; the condition of locals, the culture, the traditions, but somehow, without bedrock, it didn’t feel real.
I Needed a Mental Foundation
I was waking up at every hour and accepting whatever adventure came my way for the day, and that was the dream.
It was everything I wanted from travel, but this lack of structure caught up with me.
I felt imbalanced like something was wrong.
I felt like I had no home.
I felt like I couldn’t enjoy what I was doing half the time.
And this is where I drew comparisons to my life back home. I knew this wasn’t just about travel because I had experienced these feelings before.
When you have no foundation, no routine, you’ll start to get them.
And solo traveling meant I had no routine at all.
So I created one.
The Routine Doesn’t Matter
It doesn’t matter what routine you adopt, only that you assume one.
The morning routine has been beaten to death in productivity and self-help circles; the reason is that it’s a convenient time to have one.
While traveling, there wasn’t much to choose from, but there was enough where within 3–4 days, I had a foundation, a ritual, something I could do every day regardless of where I was.
And was it something special? Not at all.
I got coffee, read a dozen pages of my book, and wrote down some highlights of the previous day. But I did it every day.
This gave me much more than 30 minutes of time-filling.
It gave me a sense of stability — I did this wherever I was.
It gave me a sense of control — there was practically no way I couldn’t do the routine.
It set the tone for the rest of the day — I felt productive, I felt accomplished, and I felt focused.
And I realized something about this pillar that would make sure I got more work done back home, too — I just needed to confirm it.
The Stronger the Pillar
It wasn’t long before I was back home and working.
Since I was back, I started up at the gym again, and this quickly became my new cornerstone routine.
If I went to the gym, everything else fell into place.
I found that the longer and more thorough I did my routine, the more productive I was during the day.
The wider the difference in my routine and work, the better I would perform at both.
When I had a day with no gym, everything would fall apart.
And it was that last point that greeted me with a slap in the face when the pandemic hit.
It solidified the fact that a consistent 1–2 hours throughout the day was a prescription, not an option.
It showed me that the strength of an independent habit could create a pattern in a day that will trump any productivity hack I can come up with.
The solid routine has one job, and its to create a pattern.
It breaks up whatever you have on for the day. If the work is menial, repetitive, demanding, draining, or unstructured — it all comes together when you lay a 1–2-hour block that’s different in between.
During the lockdown, I switched to cycling and playing music; it still worked.
This works on a weekly scale and a monthly scale too.
Breaking up your week by having a thing on Wednesday is the same as breaking up your day by having a routine at the start, end, or middle.
No matter where or what, it’ll create a pattern in an otherwise uniform schedule.
Or a structure in an unstructured one.
Set a foundational routine, and watch your days get more manageable.
It worked for me, I’m confident it’ll work for you too.
🔗 Link Dump
🎨 This one is for anyone that creates content on the internet and gets stuck sometimes.
🎙️ One of my favorite Tim Ferriss podcasts with a Cal Fussman, a master storyteller.
📚 A fantastic thread with 7 real stories that’ll keep you busy reading this week.
✍ I compared Medium, Substack, WordPress, and Ghost for blogging a while ago - if you’re trying to decide, here’s a guide.
🎶 A Redditor posted a library of 2000+ royalty-free instrumental songs - here you go.
And that’s all for this week's link dump, folks.
I hope you enjoyed all that, and please let me know what you think about the deeper dives into a single topic.
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