How I Structure My Day
When I come into the office, I begin by sitting down with a white pad of narrow-ruled paper (narrow-ruled, which is smaller than even college-ruled because that is how I like it), and set out everything I want to achieve that day. If I knock off the top 5 things, I consider it a success.
After reading a fantastic book – one of the best I have EVER read called The Millionaire in the Mirror: How to Find Your Passion and Make a Fortune Doing It–Without Quitting Your Day Job, I realized that everything on my list should either:
- Contribute to “outstanding success” (which means earning more than $40 million in a lifetime according to the author, although I am aiming much higher) or
- Avoiding outstanding failure (such as dealing with paperwork requirements for business licenses or the IRS that would cause you significant hardship if you were to run afoul).
Most people spend most of their day doing things that don’t fall into either of those categories. I, personally, added a third: Stuff I want to do because I feel like it.
Take yesterday … I played Tales of Vesperia for hours, brought my grandma Ruby a Pumpkin Spiced Latte at work and talked to her for 45 minutes, went by and saw my little niece, watched Project Runway, had dinner from Chipotle, and read The Richest Man in Town: The Twelve Commandments of Wealth after looking over some figures from a new publishing investment. It was a really good day. Not a lot of what I did contributed to my bottom line or helped lower risk, but that is how I wanted to spend my time, mostly because it was my favorite weather in the world (dark, stormy, windy and around 68 degrees with no rain).
Today, I am going to spend most of my time writing content for the next week on my Investing for Beginners site at About.com, a division of The New York Times.
Update: Several years ago, I placed this post, along with thousands of others, in the private archives. The site had grown beyond the family and friends for whom it was originally intended into a thriving, niche community of like-minded people who were interested in a wide range of topics, including investing and mental models. I decided, after multiple requests, to release selected posts from those private archives if they had some sort of educational, academic, and/or entertainment value. On 05/24/2019, I released this post from the private archives. This special project, which you can follow from this page, has been interesting as I revisited my thought processes about a specific company or industry, sometimes decades later. In this case, reading about how I structured my time each morning.
Incredible changes have happened in the near-decade since this post was originally published. My husband, Aaron, and I relocated to Newport Beach, California in order to have children through gestational surrogacy. Within a window of a couple of years around that relocation, we also sold our operating businesses and launched a fiduciary global asset management firm called Kennon-Green & Co.®, through which we manage money for other wealthy individuals and families. On most days, I still follow a modified form of this basic prescription as laid out by Gene Bedell in his excellent book though, understandably, the implementation of it has changed as we completed our transition out of semi-retirement and our roles evolved and grew. For example, while I always read enormous quantities of books, newspapers, trade publications, etc., a much larger part of our day is spent reading a much wider range of materials, especially if we believe it might help us serve the firm’s private clients more effectively. We also tend to use task management software and certain other productivity tools and platforms rather than pen and paper. The core process, though, is very, very similar. It’s just that I’m not thinking of new companies for us to start, or product lines we can expand, to increase our sales and earnings, but, instead, analyzing businesses and acquiring ownership for the people who have entrusted their capital to our management.