David Kadavy is one of my favorite authors writing about creativity and entrepreneurship. I’ve been reading his work for some years now and every time I find something new to implement into my workflow.
I’m thrilled to share my interview with David where he explains his habits and routines such as skipping breakfast, organizing work by mental state and more.
David Kadavy is a creative entrepreneur and author of Design for Hackers and The Heart to Start. He’s also a host of a podcast called Love Your Work, where he’s interviewed entrepreneurs and creators such as Jason Fried, Dan Ariely, James Altucher, Seth Godin, Ryan Holiday, Laura Roeder, Noah Kagan, and many more.
What Are the Most Influential Habits in Your Life?
I meditate and write every weekday morning. I need to meditate to keep my thoughts clear. If I skip it for more than a few days in a row, I lose my ability to focus and I’m not as even-keeled emotionally.
I need to write every day because I always have something to say. Again, if I take too many days off, my skills slip. If I string days together, it gets easier, and it keeps my thoughts clear.
How Do You Set Goals and Manage Time?
I have a “weekly review” every Sunday afternoon. I review my calendar and make sure I’m prepared for everything in the coming week, and I begin brainstorming bigger projects that are coming up in the coming months (such as travel).
In my business, I use Todoist, and I’ve developed my own creative productivity system, that I use to manage my creative energy and keep my work coming smoothly. The basis of the system is organizing my tasks by mental state, rather than by project. Todoist is great for this method because you can easily type out labels.
Every two weeks, I meet with my mastermind partner. We talk about what we did over the previous two weeks, and set a few goals for the next two weeks. We aren’t strict about the goals. Sometimes things change, especially with creative work. You have to stay flexible.
How Are You Modeling Your Life?
My aim in life is to follow my curiosity, and share what I learn along the way. This can be scary at times. If I ever doubt this approach, I just re-watch the Steve Jobs Stanford commencement address.
Can You Describe Your Work Process and Thinking Behind It?
I optimize for creative output. Achieving creative insights is touchy. They can seem to come from nowhere. But if you really optimize for creativity, you find that it’s not random at all.
I treat my creative energy like I would any resource, such as time or money. So I use my best creative energy for my most important work, and I do what I can to replenish that energy.
That means that I have to work with the ebbs and flows of my creative energy. Through a lot of experimentation, I have a good feel for during what times of day, or times of the week, I have my best creative energy. I also have a good feel for how a creative problem will progress from brainstorming to a solution.
The result is my personal creative productivity system, which divides work by mental state, and my days and weeks by fluctuations in creative energy.
What Do You Eat for Breakfast?
I don’t eat breakfast because it’s one more thing getting in the way of doing my most important work first thing in the morning, and in my most creative mental state. Eating in the morning kills my ability to focus.
How Do You Train Your Body and Mind?
I meditate every morning for twenty minutes. I do Bikram yoga once every two weeks. I follow a lifting protocol that’s approximately twelve minutes per week. I use Andrew Johnson’s hypnotherapy apps almost daily during afternoon naps. I’ve had some PTSD symptoms from a traumatic experience, so I’ve been taking Krav Maga classes lately, and they seem to be helping.
How Do You Meet and Connect with People?
Mostly through my podcast. If I find someone interesting, I’ll invite them on. It’s great. I like conferences, but don’t get to go to them very often, since I live in Colombia. I don’t often put myself in situations where I might randomly meet someone, like I might have years ago. It’s usually somewhat strategic. I have to feel compelled to meet someone. It’s probably not the optimal way to go about it, but it prevents me from wasting time in random coffee meetings.
What Are Your Sleeping Rituals?
Starting at about 10 pm, I put on blue blocker goggles, and stop consuming any video media or social media. I read until my eyes feel heavy, which is usually about midnight. I sleep wearing an eye mask and ear plugs. I allow myself to wake up naturally, and usually get out of bed about 8 am, after writing with my eyes closed on a cheap portable word processor while still in bed.
What Are Your Investing Habits?
I do keep a stock portfolio, though I haven’t thought about it much in recent years. I try to get a feel of what trends are going on in the world. I think about it from a psychological standpoint, the old “be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”, which I learned from my former neighbor, Warren Buffett (though we’ve never met).
I realize I have been lucky to be invested in a bull market for the past fifteen years or so, but this method has done well.
With the unexpected expenses that come along with living in a foreign country, I’m sure to save accordingly. I do have CapitalOne 360 accounts bookmarked for “visa snafus,” and “emergency travel,” as well as regular trips to visit family. Money automatically goes to those accounts each month, so I’m not surprised when these expenses eventually come. I got this idea from Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
What Books, People, Experiences Shaped Your Thinking?
That’s a big question!
I guess Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek was a revelation for me, and it came to me at the perfect time, when I was just starting out on my own in 2007. Thanks to his principles, I was able to build passive revenue streams that freed me up to do creative work, and to live various places around the globe before settling in Colombia.