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Daily Routines

Jason Fried: Daily Routine

Daily Routines is a series by Balance the Grind, profiling successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and business executives to explore their routines, habits and rituals.

When I was putting together a list of people’s daily routines to profile, I was the most excited to research and write about this one. It’s certainly no secret that here at Balance the Grind, we’re huge fans of Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH) and the whole Basecamp team.

Over the part 20 years, Basecamp have built a calm workplace culture by prioritising 40-hour workweeks (and shorter weeks during the summer), asynchronous communication, remote work and meetings as a last resort.

I can’t stress this enough — protect your attention like you protect your friends, family, money and so on. It’s among the most valuable things you have.

I’m Jason Fried, CEO Of Basecamp, And This Is How I Work | Lifehacker

In between interviews with Lifehacker, Inc.com and his own writings, we’ve managed to piece together what Jason Fried’s daily routine typically looks like.

He’ll typically wake up 6am, brew some tea and have breakfast — either some waffles and some pistachios or oatmeal (in the colder seasons). A few times a week Fried will go to the gym to work out with a personal trainer. After that, he’ll either head to the Basecamp office in Chicago or work from home, “I might work from home for a week and then get bored of that, so I will spend the next week at the office.”

If he’s working from the office, Fried will arrive at Basecamp between 10am and 11am. For his work setup, Fried has gone from multiple computers and multiple monitors to just one device, a 12″ Macbook. He’s all about minimising distractions and prioritising focus, “I go full screen on nearly every app. I also hide my dock. I don’t want anything pulling my attention away. When I’m curious I’ll look. Otherwise, I’m looking at what I want, not what someone else might want me to see.”

Even though Basecamp is a project management tool, Fried doesn’t like to use a to-do list manager, “I don’t track to-dos. I have a small handful of things I know I need to do every day. If I can’t keep them in my head, I have too many things to do. Every day is a blank slate for what I need to do.”

I work about 40 hours a week, and I strongly encourage everyone at Basecamp to do the same. Forty hours is enough when you actually have 40 hours to use for your work, versus showing up for 40 or 50 or 60+ but only having 15 or 20 to yourself. 

I’M JASON FRIED, CEO OF BASECAMP, AND THIS IS HOW I WORK | LIFEHACKER

A majority of Fried’s work day is spent on writing. This might include writing for the Basecamp (everything on there is written by him), posting to Basecamp’s Signal v. Noise blog, or contributing articles to other websites. Clear writing is a highly valued skill at Basecamp, largely due to their asynchronous communication working style. Fried also spends a lot of his time working on making Basecamp’s products simpler, consistently iterating to make easier for customers to use.

After lunch, Fried will typically spend a couple hours shifting away from work and letting his mind wander, either by reading (usually biographies about inventors or American history) or browsing on the web about non-work related stuff.

“After lunch, I get a little lazy between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. I don’t feel that productive, so I’m usually screwing around, which I think is really important. Everyone should read stuff on the Web that’s goofy or discover something new.”

Fried will usually leave the office at 6pm, and go home to spend time with his family. His preferred way to recharge is being around nature, whether that’s gardening in his backyard or going for walks in botanical gardens. Otherwise, he’ll wind down by reading or watching TV – Curb Your Enthusiasm, House and American Idol are his go-to shows – before sleeping at around 10pm.

“Approximately eight hours a night. Neglecting sleep is a terrible mistake. It’s the one debt you can never pay off, and it affects everyone around you, too. I go to sleep around 10ish, and get up around six-ish — either to the sun or to my son.”

Key takeaways:

* 40 hour work weeks are enough (if they’re productive)

* Minimise distractions wherever you can in your life

* It’s important to let your mind wander during the day

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.