On the Grind - My Daily Ritual • Dan Fries

On the Grind – My Daily Ritual

h/t to Taylor Pearson for this format. I’ve previously written about my morning ritual. Using resources from Taylor’s new book, The End of Jobs, I’ve expanded this into a 3 part series:

My Morning Ritual 

  • Wake up naturally (no alarm), usually between 7:30am and 8am. I love waking up naturally. Some people can do fine with alarms – not me. Alarms remind me of grueling school and grueling 9-5 jobs. Yuck. Between travel and the gym, I let my body and mind dictate my circadian rhythm. There are days where I wake up at 6 and days where I sleep in until noon, and I feel great as a result.
  • Bathroom
  • Glass of water
  • Meditate for 20 minutes using Headspace.
  • Write and reflect ton the meditation in my meditation journal (a small orange moleskin). 20150914_164400A mixture of what I learned during the meditation and how I feel. The purpose of this is to bring my unconscious thoughts to the forefront of my awareness. Although what I’m writing may be complete and utter nonsense, I’ve found that just a few minutes of “pure thought stream” writing is incredibly valuable and can quickly improve my mood. Here’s an example of my journal where you can see 2 insights from this morning’s meditation:
  • Intention and visualization. As soon as I’m done journaling, I sit quietly and think about where I am, who I am, where I’m going, and who I want to be. I look ahead 90 days into the future and vividly visualize the life I want. This is a habit that has come and gone, but slowly taken stronger hold in the year as I’ve taken control of my time. I first came across this exercise in an excellent book called The Alabaster Girl by Zan Perrion. It’s also something that continues to pop up in the morning routines of successful people.
  • Take a cold shower. Cold showers have tons of benefits, as does soaking in warm water. I’m not a cold shower evangelist – I don’t let the water get ice cold, nor scolding hot (warm-cold-warm). Just outside the range of comfort is enough to do the job.
  • Get dressed. To eliminate decision anxiety, my wardrobe is shockingly simple and (some might say bland). Dry fit shirts and flip flops are the standard. As one entrepreneur put it, “There’s no room in my wardrobe for sentiment.”
  • Pack bag with snacks
    • Snacks are a mix of some or all of the following: bananas, apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, almonds and dark chocolate. Simple, healthy, clean.
  • Breakfast at nearby spot (one that serves my kind of food)
    • Single Americano with milk and ~1 teaspoon of coconut oil
    • 4 scrambled eggs with vegetables
    • 1 glass of water
  • Review my daily habits (1) – I do this twice a day. This first review covers anything that happened this morning, as well as the previous night.
  • Get to work

Work & Email

  • The ONE Thing – Adapted from Gary Keller’s book, the first task I focus on is whatever long term goal is most important in my life write now (the task that would, if completed, make everything else easier). For more about “Most Important Tasks”, check out Leo B’s post on Zen Habits. Mark Twain and Brian Tracy have called this “eating the frog“, ie doing the toughest and most important task first thing in the morning when we have the most willpower and creative energy. Currently, that is starting a blog by developing the habit of writing (thanks to a 3-4 month writing challenge.)  Side note on MITs and The ONE Thing..
  • Email. My inbox is paused for 2 time points: 1145am and 445pm. Barring emergency, I only check emails at those times. I follow a simple email triage process. Using Gmail labels, I tag tasks as either: Requiring Action (Urgent), Requiring Action, Waiting for Reply, Set Appointment, or Delegated. This is a process I ripped from Andreas Klinger and have found incredibly useful for staying organized and on top of my inbox.


  • Lunch (meat and vegetables) – My lunches are consistently the same: about 200-300g of lean meat and 2-3 cups of vegetables. It helps that most of my friends adhere to the same clean, whole-food/paleo-ish diet, so we all order the same stuff and don’t feel pressured to eating shitty food.
  • Eating with friends – Socializing throughout the day is essential to maintaining a positive and balanced mental state, and lunch is a great chance to disengage and relax. Without it, I could very easily spend entire working days without interacting with a single person – not ideal. Eating alone also creates more resistance for social events at night (dinners, drinks, going out, anything really). Eating is a social activity, hence why I choose to eat breakfast and lunch with other people.


  • Reading (slowly) – after gym and socializing, probably the most essential habit to my overall well-being. I love to read, taking my time and digesting a book. I’m not a big fan of speed reading, and wish I had more time in the day to devote to sitting alone with a book. I surmise that, as I work myself out of my business with systems, reading will become a larger part of my life. A minimum of 1 hour of reading a day is crucial, but lately I’ve been reading 2-3 or more hours.
    • Note that I consider listening to Audiobooks as “reading”. Though there are obviously different cognitive processes involved in listening, the point is to gain knowledge and perspective.
  • Take notes – As I read, I take lots of notes. This includes journaling, writing in Evernote, and highlighting passages in my Kindle. Reading is a very active process, which is why I take my time. While taking notes, I often add thoughts or ideas to blog posts to be included the following morning. Kindle clippings get imported into Evernote via Clippings.io.


  • Again following email triage, I check and handle email at the end of the day:
    • First, I send and reply to any urgent tasks via email.
    • Second, I delegate anything that can’t be completed immediately.
    • Third, I make sure everything is labeled properly so that Most Important Tasks are all ready to be tackled the next day.


  • Switching to gym mode. I set gym after all work is done. This is to transition from logic-based-tasks to getting in my body by lifting heavy weight. It’s a flushing of the left hemisphere and connection to the right. To quote The Alabaster Girl:  “[A] ritual of separating the day from the evening, the work from the rest. This is what will keep relationships alive.”
  • Pre-workout meal. I eat a small amount of protein and carbs about 2-1.5 hours before working out.
  • Routine. My gym routine is fairly set in stone. It’s a basic 5 day split strength and hypertrophy adapted from my fitness and nutrition coach, Mario Tomic.
  • Post-workout meal. Protein shake, banana, and a carb heavy meal.
  • I love hitting the gym after work and before hanging out with friends or going out at night. The natural endorphin high that comes from hitting it hard noticeably improves my interactions with others. (h/t Michael Sartain via Owen Cook)

Daily Business Review

  • One final email triage. I clear the inbox by responding to any urgent emails and delegating as many tasks as possible. Rarely does this get me to Inbox Zero, but it’s enough to keep my sanity when I open my inbox the following morning.
  • Business Review. What am I grateful for? Did I Complete today’s MITs? If no, Why not? What did I do well? What could I have done better? Did I take steps towards my desired outcomes? Did I move towards the Resistance? The least valuable thing I did today was…
  • Tracking sheets. I fill in all my habit tracking for the day. This is updating my fitness routine and 5-3-1 spreadsheets with notes and progress,recording my weight and gym accomplishments, entering all my food into MyFitnessPal, and checking off completed tasks in my habit tracking worksheet.
google sheet for tracking habits

What gets measured gets managed.

Release: Dinner & Fun

Dinner is almost always with friends, and is a moderate-sized meal. After a workout, I crave nutrients – but nothing too heavy since I’ll be out with friends.

Fun gets its own category. Probably the most essential ingredient to making money, building wealth, and being happy in the long term. It’s the reward I get for staring at screens for 6-8 hours each day. It’s a release, the culmination of a job well done. When I work hard, my nights are weekends are all the more enjoyable. When I ignore fun, burnout quickly follows. Fun can be anything like:

  • Hanging out with friends
  • Going on a date
  • Going out to a bar or club
  • Watching a movie
  • Seeing live music

It doesn’t matter. So long as it involves not working and not talking about work, then all is good. Personally, I’ve found that the Fun must involve some kind of balance between hanging out with just guys and hanging out with just girls – a balance of energy.