Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 27, 2013

A Day in the Life of Mark Sisson

By Mark Sisson
70 Comments

Back when I started Mark’s Daily Apple, it was a small operation of just a few people with basic goals: offer my take on health, fitness, and nutrition topics. I researched and wrote the articles, and that was pretty much it. Very straightforward.

As everything has grown larger and more complex, my responsibility has expanded. I tackle ever more complicated topics that require even more research – and have a team devoted to research. The business has grown to encompass events, supplements, apparel, services, and a growing list of books, which all comes with additional duties and oversight. And amidst all that, I’m still writing articles on a daily basis.

My expanded roles mean that I can’t waste time. If I do, I may get the work done, but I’ll have nothing left at the end of the day. My social life, my fitness, my family, and my sleep will all suffer. Those things are non-negotiable, so I shot a video explaining my strategies for remaining productive, getting the work done, limiting stress, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance that you may find helpful.

I can’t wake up and launch right into work. It feels like going right into fight or flight mode if I try to start immediately, and I end up all over the place. Instead, I start the day with a cup of coffee, the newspaper, and a few puzzles. The coffee and the puzzles get the cognitive gears going and the paper gives me a glimpse of the outside world before plunging myself into the world of health and nutrition research.

For an hour or so I check and answer email and take/make phone calls, prioritizing the most important or time consuming ones first. This is nuts and bolts stuff that I can do without thinking too hard or getting creative. I just have to sit down and do it. It allows me to tick something off the list and move onto more difficult tasks with a small victory under my belt.

Then I take a short break, maybe ten or fifteen minutes. Since I work from home and answer to no one but my own guilty conscience, I get to take a lot of breaks. They’re essential to my success.

Now it’s on to the real heavy lifting: the creative work. I’ll buckle down and work on a blog post for an hour or two in my office, closing out (and sometimes even blocking) all the email and other time-sucking website and apps. Ideally, I’ve already done the research and a basic outline for this post, so I know where I’m going and what I’ll be citing. This lets me focus on the prose itself without digging through the literature. If it’s just not happening, I’ll switch spaces and move outside with my laptop. I find a change in scenery is absolutely crucial for jump starting the creative process. It doesn’t even have to be outside. You could just go to another room, or even go from sitting to standing or standing to sitting. Just switching up something minor is often enough.

Then it’s off to the gym for training and socializing. The social aspect is almost as important to me as the physical part of working out. I need that face-to-face contact to recharge. I need to get my training out of the way so I don’t have it hanging over the rest of my day, interfering with my focus on work.

After the gym, I eat – usually a Big A$$ Salad (BAS). 1150 calories, 66% fat, 18% carbs, 16% protein, tons of colorful veggies. It’s my biggest meal of the day and gives me steady, even energy. Well, sometimes I’ll fast an hour or two after my workout to eat for the growth hormone boost.

I spend the rest of my workday researching for future posts or books, catching up on any manuscripts or proposals, checking emails, popping into the office, and just generally taking care of random stuff that pops up.

Once darkness falls, I (try to) log off. Nighttime is family time, but occasionally work calls. I always have f.lux installed and my blue-blocking goggles on hand to combat the circadian disruption caused by blue light. That way I can finish work and get right to sleep without missing a beat.

Workday Strategies

  1. Make a gradual transition into your peak performance state – If you can launch right into work, fine. Do it. Most people, like me, can’t. Give yourself a “work warmup” in the morning. Do something that gently uses your brain without stressing you out.
  2. Emphasize focused, distinct periods of work – Communication (emails, phone calls, texts, chats), creation (actually doing the work), personal time (breaks, gym, meals). Don’t run yourself ragged trying to do everything at once. You’ll fail and the work will suffer.
  3. Take frequent breaks – Humans can only focus on one thing for about 20 minutes, give or take. If you try to marathon your way through the workday, you’ll be wasting a ton of time floundering on tasks when you could just stop for a few minutes, take a deep breath, and come back to knock it out of the park.
  4. Nurture energy and motivationEating well, exercising regularly, and maintaining a narrow focus will keep you energized and motivated.
  5. Minimize screen use after dark – Try your best to not work after dark. You need that uninterrupted block of free time to unwind, go out, hang out, and recharge for the next day. If you absolutely must work late, install f.lux and use some blue-blocking goggles.

How do you work? What are your strategies? Let me and everyone know in the comment section!

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70 Comments on "A Day in the Life of Mark Sisson"

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Groktimus Primal
2 years 9 months ago

Don’t work too hard Mark! 🙂

Jordan
Jordan
2 years 9 months ago

These days it is getting dark at around 4:30pm where I live!! I usually have about 3 hours left in the office at that point…should I be using f.lux that early in the night? Or is it only essential closer to bedtime (I usually go to bed around 11 or 11:30)?

Graham
Graham
2 years 9 months ago

Orange glasses…the effect is immediate and incredible. You’ll be asleep earlier, too.

Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
2 years 9 months ago

Do you mean the orange Blu-Blockers?

Graham
Graham
2 years 9 months ago

Mine are just orange safety glasses. Kresser and Jaminet have recommendations on their respective blogs…I wear them as soon as it’s dark outside, which this time of year is pretty early. My wife thinks they’re *really* cool, too….

beachbound
beachbound
2 years 9 months ago

The ones I got from Amazon are awesome. I put them on at around 8:45pm the first day I got them (right after I put my son to sleep), and I was sleepy by 9:30. Normally, I can’t sleep until 11pm from all of the blue light my monitors emit.

Stacie
2 years 9 months ago

This doesn’t answer your question, but just think: only 23 days till solstice and we start getting some seconds of daylight back! (At least, that’s what I keep telling myself…sigh.)

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Katie
Katie
2 years 9 months ago

“I need that face-to-face contact to recharge.” Would you consider yourself a extrovert? Is there a primal stance on extroversion and introversion? What are the known evolutionary forces behind them, if there are any?

MattyT
MattyT
2 years 9 months ago

Funny, I always thought you worked crazy hours like other bloggers I know. Good to see you practice what you preach!

Karl Nilsson
2 years 9 months ago
Very inspiring stuff. I think the main reason people find this place and stay here is that you truly walk the walk and live as you teach. You’re a true role model. I sit in front of Excel and reports and emails and meetings and all sorts of more or less creative stuff throughout the workday, but I’ve found that my focus is limited to 60 minutes at a stretch, then my mind starts drifting and I need a short break. However, when doing something that almost only involves the creative part of the brain, like producing music, I experience… Read more »
Matt
2 years 9 months ago

Agree….great post. It’s nice to see how others do it and learn from some of the success that they’ve had.

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[…] Daily Apple / Posted on: January 01, 1970Mark’s Daily Apple – Back when I started Mark’s Daily Apple, it was a small operation of just a few people […]

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[…] Back when I started Mark’s Daily Apple, it was a small operation of just a few people with basic goals: offer my take on health, fitness, and nutrition topics. I researched and wrote the articles, and that was pretty much it. Very straightforward. As everything has grown larger and more complex, my responsibility has expanded. […]… Mark’s Daily Apple […]

Kirk
Kirk
2 years 9 months ago

Thanks for the video Mark! My work-day SHOULD be a lot like yours is but it isn’t. I need to take more breaks and more time for research — as I find myself falling behind the knowledge curve of my fast-changing industry. Thanks for the inspiration. And….I have to say…Dang! You are one fit dude!

MarielleGO
MarielleGO
2 years 9 months ago

ooooh I wish I had that freedom!! Your first big plus is being your own boss so that makes you able to plan your hours. The second one is living in a warm climate, I couldn’t be outside all the time, it’s freezing.

Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
2 years 9 months ago

That’s why I like a being a stay-at-home wife–the freedom. I may not earn a paycheck, but I make up for it in tax deductions.

Jess
Jess
2 years 9 months ago

I found myself distracted by Mark’s arms. Good reminders!

Kirk
Kirk
2 years 9 months ago

Focus Jess! F-O-C-U-S-! 🙂

Tina
Tina
2 years 9 months ago

haha Me too! Mark, you’re sexy!

Nocona
Nocona
2 years 9 months ago

The video was pretty much exactly like I thought, or imagined Mark’s day to be…except for a sit down desk. I thought he would have a standing desk. Great stuff. Thanks.

HiDee
HiDee
2 years 9 months ago

I think he does have a standing desk. He talks about it and shows it in a video that was on the blog a month ago or so. He just has a special stool that goes with it that is like a leaning sort of stool and not a sit down stool. My husband has the same thing for his home office and a treadmill under his desk, they’ve been helpful for him to add more movement into his non-movement prone work day.

Samuel Albert
2 years 9 months ago
I admire your achievements. I eny the fact that you still find time to socialise. I wish I could find enough time for socialising but that is almost impossible when you are combining your work and blogging. More especially when you are fighting to become a full time blogger relying entirely on the Internet for upkeep. I will seriously consider finding time to rest as I preach on my blogs on diet and natural remedies. You can’t enjoy good health while overworking yourself. The two don’t get along. Almost all communities who value rest live longer than the average person… Read more »
Darlene, San Francisco, CA
Darlene, San Francisco, CA
2 years 9 months ago
I loved the video, Mark. Nice to see you also enjoy a balanced day. Re the actual video though – I had a problem hearing your words. I heard “Welcome to my backyard.” but from then on heard only the background music. Had the volume on my desktop turned up and heard that just fine. I tried to read your lips and got the gist of what you were saying, but ….??? I viewed it twice with the same results. Am I the only one who experienced this? I’ve read through the text posted and it pretty much says what… Read more »
Jeremy
Jeremy
2 years 9 months ago

I can’t hear any of the talking by Mark in this video. Anybody else having this problem?

Paleo-curious
2 years 9 months ago

I thought I was– then I realized I had only one earbud in! Popped in the other & there was Mark. 🙂

The sound is on separate stereo tracks, apparently– maybe that’s the issue for you too?

Zach rusk
2 years 9 months ago

What is the typical “workout” you perform?

Adam
Adam
2 years 9 months ago

In regards to making “a gradual transition into your peak performance state” does this include exercise or just mental activities? Was thinking of starting my workout when I first get up.

Marilyn
Marilyn
2 years 9 months ago

Mark, only a cup of coffee in the morning? What happened to breakfast being the most important meal of the day? And how do you work out with only caffeine in your body?

Paleo-curious
2 years 9 months ago

I suspect that coffee may be “bulletproof”– including butter, coconut oil, MCT oil, &/or eggs. See some previous posts…

Chris
Chris
2 years 9 months ago

Intermittent fasting.

Jen
Jen
2 years 9 months ago
Love the video! I wish your workout would have been filmed. I wake up at 4:45 AM to my nature sounds alarm clock; I’m partial to the sound of waves crashing on the shore. I open the door to find my snuggly cat waiting for hugs. After about 10 minutes of hugs (not kidding!), I make my bed, wash my face, get dressed, and then head downstairs to catch up on e-mails or empty the dishwasher before breakfast. After breakfast and a teeth brushing, I’m off to work at 6 AM as a Physical Therapist Assistant, where I run around… Read more »
Merry
Merry
2 years 9 months ago

How did that salad exceed 1,100 calories? What was in it?

perennialpam
2 years 9 months ago

Click on the link in his post and you can see. I suppose he is making a double version of that salad.

aboutcreativity
aboutcreativity
2 years 9 months ago

For me it’s about setting a pace for the day.

Kit
Kit
2 years 9 months ago

Looked like Mark didn’t finish the salad (or is that a pattern on the bowl – if so why the “I think I’m done”, surely if all gone it would be “I’m finished”. So perhaps it wasn’t exactly the calories (whatever they are) stated. A blog post there somewhere – eyes bigger than tummy. Yes, I’m English (if I was Scottish I would have listed the remaining salad on Ebay). Keep up the good work Mark, but always keep your Vibrams on the ground – figuratively.

Cal
Cal
2 years 9 months ago

Looks like you’ve never visited Scotland Kit. 😉

Kit
Kit
2 years 9 months ago

Hell yeah, had my honeymoon there (grand word for a b&b). Just kiddin’ ’bout Ebay and I admit it: a cheap cliche. Scots are like brothers to me – in a way. I haven’t been there for over a decade, but when I return home from New Zealand soon, I may pop to St Andrews, eyeing up the grass fed Angus on my way. And the midges will be hibernating and I will be armed with one of Mark’s blogs about SAD.

skeedaddy
skeedaddy
2 years 9 months ago

Thanks for your hard work! You have a great “straight shooter” attitude.

alohadave
alohadave
2 years 9 months ago

Mark…nice video…but left out a lot…what about managing those 20 people where does that come into play, wife, kids, school events, etc…looks pretty easy with the video…but certainly not real life.

Darlene, San Francisco, CA
Darlene, San Francisco, CA
2 years 9 months ago

I just tried to watch your video on YouTube, Mark. Same results – great video, background music (very nice BTW), but no vocals. ???

While on YouTube I also watched the video of you on the Diet Doctor – no problem with the sound and enjoyed it very much.

Also watched your Q&A session with Robb Wolf. Q – Robb was wearing a T-shirt with “STFU and lift some shit.” What does STFU stand for?

Also watched John Durant’s video presentation Paleo Manifesto.

All this while trying to hear your daily routine. Thank you.

OnTheBayou
OnTheBayou
2 years 9 months ago
Since I discovered the Primal Blueprint in 1999, I’ve often wondered about your life. I knew that you had a business, the “worker bees,” but no idea it has twenty employees. Thanks for taking us into your home, and I tip my hat to you! Also, let me worship a moment, you probably saved my life. You know, like all those success stories posted here! This f.lux is awesome! It’s after dark now, the monitor color temp has gone warm, and I can just feel the lower stress! Ommm………. Who’da thunk? Your karma account must be bursting at the seams!
Kirstie
Kirstie
2 years 9 months ago
Thanks Mark, I think you have a life most people envy. As a homeschooling mother of three boys we do take the regular breaks, but I think I will try and include on of those breaks being a work out time. I really need to work out more and it will be a great example for my boys, set them up now for a healthy future.Thanks for your example and motivation. Kirstie PS Since starting primal eating my sleeping is improved 100%, but reading the other posts above, I would be interested in those glasses you were talking about. Thanks… Read more »
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[…] Back when I started Mark’s Daily Apple, it was a small operation of just a few people with basic goals: offer my take on health, fitness, and nutrition topics. I researched and wrote the articles, and that was pretty much it. Very straightforward. As everything has grown larger and more complex, my responsibility has expanded. […] Mark’s Daily Apple […]

Diane J
2 years 9 months ago
I also work from home, running our small business and doing readings online. I start my day by stretching, doing self care with Reiki, eating a light breakfast, then going to the gym. When I come home I log onto the phone line and check emails and handle any computer tasks between calls as well as such necessary tasks as laundry. After a few hours, I take a break for lunch and to do shopping, make dinner, and spend time with my family before either having clients, classes, or logging onto the phones again. Yes, I work after dark, but… Read more »
Susan B.
Susan B.
2 years 9 months ago

Love the up-close and personal look at Mark’s highly-productive-with-many-breaks lifestyle.

Gunnar Fox
2 years 9 months ago

Digging your watch, Mark. Can you please tell me what it is?

Thanks for all you do.

Lars
Lars
2 years 9 months ago

Just got F.Lux… at 1:00 am.. 🙂
Thanks for sharing Mark.

Katrin
2 years 9 months ago
Thanks for the video. Your days look very easy-going and laid-back. I wish I could get my things done like this as well. But as somebody else mentioned before in the comments, the day in life your video shows is just a small portion of my days. If you have a toddler and a pre-schooler at home, a house to clean, dinner to cook, laundry to make, groceries to shop, cat poop to clean-up and a gazillion of other “tiny” things on your plate, the video looks like rather idealistic. I am trying to live a primal lifestyle and I… Read more »
Stuart Young
2 years 9 months ago

Really interesting to see how you go about your business. You seem to peak at a different time of day from me, I like to get my writing done as soon as I wake up and leave the rest of the day for the less creative work. My focus and creativity seems to be better early in the day, and while it took a while to get used to the 4.30am wake up I’d really struggle to go back!

Some great tips on unwinding at night too. Really enjoyed this one!

John C. A. Manley
2 years 9 months ago

Great video. My life is similarly structured. It’s certainly not the norm, but it does seem to be the most productive and satisfying.

Tom B-D
Tom B-D
2 years 9 months ago

It’s a good day to say Thanks to Mark and all the bees at MDA! About to dig into a Primal Thanksgiving dinner….

salixisme
2 years 9 months ago
“Humans can only focus on one thing for about 20 minutes, give or take” This is the thing that I find hardest about my job. I am a massage therapist, and despite what a lot of people think, it does use a lot of mental focus… believe me, the clients KNOW if you are not mentally “there” and are daydreaming…. I have often likened the amount of focus needed as being similar to meditating as you need to be “present” all the time and aware of what your hands are feeling. So now imagine meditating for 60 minutes at a… Read more »
Rene
Rene
2 years 9 months ago

Man, I would love that flexibility… I have an office job, usually from 7.30am to 6pm with a short break. Lots of meetings, people to manage and dealing with issues.

Vanessa
Vanessa
2 years 9 months ago

Thanks for really sharing part of your life with us Mark. I want to say that I very much appreciate that for you the fun part is the research. I would not get very far with that at all and it is so important to the teaching/discussions here at MDA. You are doing the hard stuff for me – thanks!

Laurie
Laurie
2 years 9 months ago
Thanks, Mark, for opening up your life and home! But where is Carrie??? She figures in your day, I’m sure! Do you see each other often during the day, or only in the evening? I’d like to see a “Day in the Life of Carrie”. How does she manage all her responsibilities? Who fixes dinner, gets groceries, and when do you do errands and all the little stuff around the house that needs doing, fixing, etc? It’s the long list of daily “must do’s” that seem to sap a lot of time and energy for me. Someone had to wash… Read more »
Peter Whiting
2 years 9 months ago
I find the quiet early mornings, before other people are up, are my most productive and creative times. I enjoy this part of the day and cherish it. Other principles I live by and not to rush, not to multi-task, relax and allow nature to guide me to the next most important thing and then focus on that and do it well. Trust that nature will always guide me to the next most important thing if I listen well and allow it to. This is a great way to reduce stress. Also, making sure that my food is nutritious, my… Read more »
Ginger
Ginger
2 years 9 months ago
I love my job! I’m a teacher. And I am solidly committed to the healthiest, most realistic, stress-free lifestyle I can have. But EVERY SINGLE day I wish that I didn’t have to be out the door before 7 AM in order to be at school in enough time to be ready for all the minds that greet me in the morning by 7:45. And that’s without early arrival to get materials ready or have bus duty! If I wanted a nice cup of coffee, peaceful breakfast, newspaper and puzzles, I’d have to be up by 5 AM at the… Read more »
Kylie
Kylie
2 years 9 months ago

Mark! Such a babe! Great tips and great lifestyle.

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Paula
2 years 9 months ago

I thoroughly enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing and showing how it is done.

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Sam
Sam
2 years 9 months ago

I like the idea of this, but I really don’t know how practical it is for everybody. Just for me to put it in perspective with my life/work, could you say how many hours a day of work this schedule is on average? I am a grad student in chem E and currently work practically around the clock and really do not see another way. But would love to know if there was a way I could spend less hours at work and get it all done too!

Tom
Tom
2 years 8 months ago

This makes me wonder if Mark has ever read The Power of Full Engagement – a lot of very ‘primal’/’paleo’ approaches to energy management and negotiating the world of modern work…

Nicole Lana
2 years 2 months ago

Inspirational video on your work day! Love how energized you are by what you do.

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