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Daily Routines

Ryan Carson: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, business executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and rituals.

Ryan Carson, founder and CEO of online technology school Treehouse, follows a similar weekly routine to Jack Dorsey; dividing up his week up into theme-focused days.

Unlike Dorsey, however, Carson doesn’t work six days a week. In fact, he and the rest of the Treehouse team only work 32-hour, 4-day weeks. Carson made headlines back in 2014 when he announced the transition to 4-day workweeks, proving that a venture-backed, distributed tech company can quickly grow (and be profitable), with this approach to work-life balance.

“We have over 70,000 students at Treehouse and only 70 employees—and we only work 32 hours a week,” Carson told Quartz. “I have been working 4 days a week since 2006 because I wanted time to dedicate to the people I love, and when people join the company they often wonder if we’re for real.”

My top three priorities are:

1) Spending quality, focused time with my family and friends – Having good relationships is what makes me ultimately happy

2) Leading Treehouse to success – I’m the Founder/CEO and I’m insanely passionate about our Mission

3) Staying healthy physically and mentally – Now that I’ve gotten healthy, I’m much happier, so I want to continue to make this a priority.

How I manage my todos, priorities and calendar | The Naive Optimist

On a typical day, Carson wakes up early, at “4.54am to be exact,” he said in a 2014 Lifehacker profile. He’ll spend the mornings with his family, having breakfast and getting the kids ready for the day, before starting his work at 9am. He’ll either head into the Treehouse offices in Portland, or work from home.

Each workday — Monday to Thursday — is divided into four main areas of the Treehouse business: Mondays — product, Tuesdays — video & teaching, Wednesdays — HR, culture & finance, Thursdays – Marketing & Sales.

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With the Treehouse team only working 4-day weeks, Carson’s priority for the company is maximum efficiency and productivity. This is achieved in a few ways: firstly, by banning internal emails, which Carson says “allows others to push information on me, by copying [me] on emails I don’t need to read, when it’s convenient for them.” Instead, Treehouse use internal tools Convoy and Flow, to communicate and track projects.

Like Basecamp, and other remote-first companies, asynchronous communication is the preferred method at Treehouse, where 95% of all communication is written. “We avoid facetime meetings and phone calls whenever possible. Keeping communication in written form means that people can respond when it’s convenient for them.”

At around 6pm, Carson will wrap up work and dedicate the rest of the evening to quality family time, before heading off to sleep between 9.30-10.30pm to get his ideal seven hours of sleep.

Unlike his regimented workdays, Friday to Sunday don’t have a set schedule. He wrote on his blog: “It’s just time to spend time with the family and friends and do house maintenance. I try hard not to carry my iPhone around so I don’t get sucked in to work.”

In a 2015 interview with The Washington Post, about the motivation behind implementing the 4-day workweek, Carson explained it was all about sustainable, longterm productivity:

If you put them in a race with someone for one month, and one works 60-hour weeks, and one works 32, then yes, the person who worked 60 hours is going to get more done in that one month. How about in 12 months? How about in seven years?

CEO Ryan Carson works a four-day work week. Here’s how. | The Washington Post

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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.