Allow your intrepid author to begin with this caveat: Neither I nor any other former SEAL, Ranger, Marine Raider, Special Forces guy, or CIA officer has his or her shit totally together all the time. I am not here to fool you into believing that. Lots of us do have our shit together a good deal of the time, though, as we were at some point in our lives forced to do so as part of our job.

Once you learn how to do it—and there are many different techniques and daily routines to accomplish the task—it becomes ingrained in your brain, and for some, it is hard to live any other way. Some are even lucky enough to be born as “Type A,” meaning that many of these techniques come naturally at an early age.

For most of us though, and even the Type A’s out there, there are always new things to learn to make your life more efficient and productive. That is the point of this article: to help you, the reader, sharpen your routine so that it facilitates a (hopefully) more productive existence. I hope you will take something useful away from these suggested life hacks.

Time management

This is probably the most important thing you can do to square away your life. You should despise the idea of wasted time. Make a schedule and plan out your day so that you are most effectively using the hours available to you. There are only so many in the day, after all, and since some should be used for sleeping, eating, and working out, that does not leave a ton in the remainder.

For example, if you know you need to write a SOFREP article, collect rent money, go by the dry cleaner’s, hit the grocery store, and pick kids up from soccer practice, then the neurons in your brain should be firing to compute the order in which those tasks can be completed in the most efficient manner.

Maybe you hit the dry cleaner on the way to the gym. Then you hit the store on the way home. Shower, eat, then knock out the article. Then, collect the rent on the way to get the kids from soccer. With this kind of time management, you avoid wasting valuable minutes (and gas) driving to do each chore separately. That gives you even more time in the day to get more shit done.

Design a routine

This piggybacks on the first tip. Routines can be boring, I will grant you that, but they also make for a less stressful and hectic life. One need not be rigid in the routine, but a regular and established “flow” of your day will help you keep your life organized.

This author, for example, works a fire shift every third day, so that basically accounts for 33 percent of my routine.  I then have a normal routine for the first day after shift, which varies depending on the day, and a separate routine for the second post-shift day. Again, they are not always the same, but generally speaking, the flow is similar day to day. Breakfast, the gym, writing, chores, and kid activities pretty much always take me through dinner, and are the constants of my routine. Fun stuff like shooting or running a road or trail race can be fit in when desired, and evenings are set aside for guitar playing, cooking dinner, reading, and some television.