If you’re like me, you probably traveled several times this summer. Whether you were up in the air, on trains, or in automobiles, it was likely tempting to get out of your routine.

But as I teach in The Perfect Day Formula, a morning routine can make you productive and keep you on track to your big goals and dreams. In fact, the right rituals and habits can make you more productive, even when you’re traveling to your dream destinations.

My mentor, Mark Ford, first introduced me to the abbreviated travel workday several years ago after one of his visits to Barcelona (or Rome, or one of the many other dream destinations he visits… it’s hard to keep track of his luxury lifestyle!).

Mark explained how he would work for a few hours in the morning without distraction, and then spend the rest of his day wandering the city with his wife, taking in café culture, museums, and all of the amazing sights and sounds we associated with our favorite romantic cities in the world.

Being a good student, I followed Mark’s advice. For the past eight years, I’ve spent several weeks touring Europe each summer after teaching at our annual BlackSmith Liberty and Entrepreneurship Camp in Lithuania.

This year I visited Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, and Spain, making the most of what I call, The Two-Hour Workday (2HW). It’s amazing what you can get done in just two hours of clear, uninterrupted work.

But the 2HW isn’t something that only applies to Europe. When routines are done right, the productivity power of good habits are something you can use for the rest of your life to get more done in less time. Many of my coaching clients who are busy parents are already using it and having big breakthroughs.

“My biggest obstacle was finding time to work on my business priorities while also being a present and patient mother to my two young children,” said Dr. Celine Vousden. “Thanks to Craig, I now have much more control of my days, and have made childcare plans so that I can work on my business each week. I’ve already signed up my first coaching client thanks to his help at the Perfect Life Workshop.”

How do you start designing a Two-Hour Workday?

It starts with a self-evaluation and the application of the scientific method to your habits.

You need to review your actions, sleep patterns, diet, and Internet habits, and make a cause-and-effect association between what you do and how you feel. For example, if you eat French fries and soda at lunch and feel sleepy for the next couple hours, you need to understand how your food choices are causing your energy crashes.

You must treat the connection between your habits, your body, and your mind as the greatest science experiment ever tested. When you introduce a variable – like two glasses of wine at dinner – make a note of how you feel immediately after and the next morning. Then decide if the crime is worth the time.

Cause & Effect is Key!

The scientific method is also important for identifying daily habits that support your success. Do you have more energy if you go around and say a chipper Hello! to everyone at the office? Do you work better early in the morning or late in the afternoon? Do you need to take a midday walk? Do you need lots of sunlight in your office?

Ryan Deiss, father of four and CEO of Digital Marketer, makes time for a “Golden Hour” of uninterrupted work each morning. That’s his key to progress. You must find the circadian rhythm and structured schedule that works for you – then build your schedule around it the best you can to have maximum all-day energy.

Here’s what I use to start my day with maximum energy…

  • 7-8 hours sleep (using my 10-3-2-1-0 Formula)
  • An antioxidant and green drink shake to start the day
  • 60 minutes of FOCUSED work on my number-one priority in life
  • Meditation and deep breathing
  • Dog walk at sunrise
  • High-protein breakfast (after a 12-hour fast)
  • A small amount of caffeine (the US Army found that small doses of caffeine are superior to one large dose of caffeine when it comes to alertness and performance)

Now that I’ve told you some of my secrets to success, let me show you what NOT to do…

Many high performers know the power of planning the day the night before, but too many ambitious achievers OVERPLAN and try to do too much. When you try to cram in too many tasks, you get stressed and anxious. The solution is to ruthlessly cut activities that don’t matter (and that’s how you get closer to enjoying a 2HW).

Here’s how to properly plan your day:

  • Do a brain dump and plan your top priority the night before
  • Prepare an outline for your work in the morning so that it’s easy to jump right into it

When you plan and prepare properly, you keep your focus and dominate the day. Too many potentially successful people make one last crucial mistake as soon as they wake up. That mistake, as you know if you’ve read my book, is hitting the snooze button.

That’s why I want you to make this promise to me:

Never hit snooze again – EVER.

Here’s why…

“When you hit the snooze button, you’re telling your hopes and dreams that they are not important and that they can wait.” – Bedros Keuilian

Isn’t that scary? Do you really want your subconscious mind believing this? No way! That’s why you must NEVER hit snooze again.

Here’s a little incentive. Fine yourself $100 every time you hit snooze. Pay that fine to a cause you dislike. Yes, this is extreme. But you need to get serious if snoozing is a problem. You can also apply this to any bad habit in your life (I used this punishment system to quit cursing in just six days).

Finally, if you struggle to get going in the morning, fixing the problem starts the night before with an effective wind down routine for your day. Many people let bad habits at night ruin their mornings.

Here’s the Perfect End-Of-Day Routine to OWN Your Mornings…

  • Set an alarm for 60 minutes before bed. That’s when you must stop using your phone or working.
  • Spend the final hour of your day in an old-school way…Tell a story to your kids. Talk to your spouse (about anything but work!). Make your lunch. Read a book. Take a bath. Meditate. Do mindless stuff.
  • Use good sleep hygiene (a cool room, quality sheets, an eye-mask and earplugs if needed, and consider taking melatonin and magnesium).
  • Finally, be CONSISTENT. Stick to the same bedtime every night and the same wake-up time each morning. This one habit is the most important of them all when it comes to waking up ready to go and dominating your days.

Now you might be thinking, “Oh, this won’t work for me.” Please. High performers do NOT make excuses. After all, if someone else came to you with this problem, you’d give the same advice, right? (GIVING advice is easier than taking it!)

That brings me to another important lesson…

Think about that “One Big Problem” (OBP) in your life… the OBP causing you stress, anxiety, irritation, worry, or sadness.

Now IMAGINE that it was a close friend of yours dealing with this OBP.

What advice would you give? What comforting words would you say? What resource would you share? What encouragement would you give?

It’s a lot easier to look at the OBP and see the solution that way, isn’t it?

This has been known for centuries. In fact, Epictetus and other Stoic philosophers taught us this lesson…

“When something bad happens, ask yourself, “What would I recommend if this happened to someone else?” And then do that. You’ll probably be more rational. And it’s harder to ignore the advice — because it’s your own.”

So my friend, step back, and look upon your problem with outside eyes. The solution is there. It always has been. You just needed to find it for yourself.

PS – If you need help structuring your Two-Hour Workday…

… so you can dominate your path and 10X your results in every area of your life, you need to attend one of my Perfect Life Workshop sessions. Here’s my coaching schedule for the rest of the year.

Sat., Sept 9th – Chino Hills – 2 spots left

Friday, Sept 22nd – Atlanta – 2 spots left

Sunday, Oct. 1st – Seattle – 3 spots left

Friday, Oct. 6th – Toronto – 4 spots left

Wed, Nov 8th – San Diego – 3 spots left

Thursday/Friday, Nov 9-10th, Perfect Life Retreat! – San Diego

Click here to learn more about The Perfect Life Workshop

Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men’s Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he’ll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com