woman reading a book with a dog sitting beside her
PHOTO: pparnxoxo

I’m a creature of habit. In my first job out of college, I had a routine: wake up, drink coffee, go to work, exercise, work some more, then head home. I dutifully followed this routine without thinking about it.

Recently, I took a more intentional approach to my routine. I identified activities that gave me more knowledge, more inspiration and better health. I reworked my routine to fit those activities into each day.

The best part? Each of them connects to my day job and makes me a better B2B marketer. Let’s explore further.

Early Morning

When you wake up early, the first hour of the day holds so much potential!

I wake up between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. While the coffee is brewing, I do a quick scan of my inbox and social media notifications. If something urgent requires attention, I address it. More often than not, I close my phone and put it aside.

I could dive right into work during this first hour. I know I’d get a lot done. Instead, I save work for later and focus on two things: reading books and exercising.

Reading Books

Keeping up with today’s fast-paced world can be stressful: 24-hour news cycles, social streams with endless scrolls, pings and dings from texts and notifications. The emails and social notifications will always be there, and I’ll get to them soon enough.

With the phone put aside, I grab my coffee and dive into a book. I prefer printed books because I find joy in resting the book on my lap and turning its pages.

I read a range of nonfiction topics, including sports, marketing, biographies and current events. I read one book per month, or approximately 12 per year. Without the morning routine, I’d probably read less than five.

Books help me escape and immerse myself in stories, experiences, ideas and inspiration. I can apply some books directly to my B2B marketing work, while others provide me with a broader understanding of the world.

Two of my recent favorites are “Small DATA: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends,” by Martin Lindstrom, and “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” by Angela Duckworth.

Benefits: Books provide knowledge, ideas and inspiration in a manner that’s distinct from the material that we find online and in social media.

Time Spent: 30 minutes.

Related Article: 7 Books to Help Managers Develop Effective Leadership Skills

Exercise

My go-to workout is a brisk walk around the neighborhood, with jogging mixed in during mornings of particular inspiration. Exercise has a number of benefits. First, it helps me stay fit. Next, it causes me to develop my most valuable and creative ideas.

I bring my dog (Macaroon) on my walks. In the past, I’d bring my phone and listen to podcasts. I’d start with “The Daily,” a podcast from the New York Times and continue listening to podcasts for the entire walk.

Recently, I made a change that had a meaningful improvement: I left the phone at home.

Now, on a walk of approximately 40 minutes, my mind is free to roam. I could step back through an important meeting from the day before, think up new ideas for a client project or simply daydream. I mapped out elements of this article on a walk earlier this week.

In the past, I’d return home having listened to five new podcasts. Now, I return home with five new ideas. The biggest challenge is remembering them and writing them down when I enter the house.

And the dog? By leaving my phone at home, I’m more present for her.

Benefits: Better health, new ideas and a to-do list.

Time Spent: 40 minutes.

Related Article: Agile Marketers Step Outside Their Bubbles to Find Inspiration

Afternoon and Evening

With reading and exercise complete, I feel energized and inspired. I return to the inbox and process my unread emails. I also begin work on client projects.

I currently work from home, which gives me a lot of flexibility. Outside of deadlines and scheduled meetings, I get to decide when to work on certain projects and when to work on others. And that leads me to the third activity I can’t do without: hands-on experimentation.

Hands-on Experimentation

From the latest marketing automation platform to the latest social network, I like to try new things. Often, the thing I’m trying has nothing to do with my job, however, the things I learn and experience can be applied to future projects.

Last year, I started an email newsletter called “Content Corner.” It was a hands-on experiment on how to use an email marketing platform and how to engage with people via email. While I had managed email marketing campaigns in prior jobs, launching a personal newsletter provided me with a new set of experiences that I can apply to future projects. If a client is interested in launching a newsletter, I can draw from my experience doing it myself.

In a previous CMSWire article, I wrote about how we can put the trust back into email marketing. I’ve also written about my experiments with live video broadcasts. It started on Facebook Live, where I streamed an opera singer’s performance to other family members during the holidays. 

For the past few months, I have used Twitter (e.g. Periscope) to broadcast short tips about marketing. Each “Friday Tip” lasts five minutes. Users can watch the recording as soon as the live broadcast is over. I assembled all of the recordings in a single post. Most recently, I tried Facebook Live from a browser tab, using the built-in screen-sharing capabilities to share a tip about getting more out of LinkedIn.

Benefits: Hands-on experimentation helps me learn new things that I can apply to future projects. Plus, it’s fun.

Time Spent: 20 minutes to 2 hours.

Related Article: Experiment Your Way to Data-Driven Success

What’s Your Routine?

I can’t do without reading, exercise and experimentation in my daily routine. Those activities keep me informed, energized and inspired. What’s your routine like? Share your activities in the comments, or tweet me at @dshiao. Thanks for reading!