Mark Casady, chairman and CEO at LPL Financial, is a busy man running the fourth largest independent broker/dealer. With more than 13,800 advisors affiliated with the firm, Casady talks about how he finds it helpful to schedule thinking time when he can step back from the daily grind and focus on what’s next. 

I try to get into the office just before 8 a.m. and usually try to leave by 6:30 or 7 p.m. most days when I’m not traveling. Before work, the first thing I do when I get up, besides the normal morning routine, is I go right to the iPhone and check email, check Twitter, check all of the social media sites. I typically look pretty quickly through the headlines, usually from the Wall Street Journal, just to see what’s happening for the day. I usually do that before I hop in the shower or right after. Usually flip on the Bloomberg TV to listen in on what’s going on there. So just intake. 

One part of my daily routine is having quiet in the morning for at least a half hour. No phone call scheduled, no appointments. It’s just a chance, if I’m in the office, to get that quiet time to think about the day and get things prepared. I want to block out time to give myself time to think. Those are my favorite times because you can step back from the noise of the day and reflect on what’s working and what you want to change. 

So typically for me, part of that quiet half hour in the morning is getting into the mindset and the pace I want to keep for the day and process the volume of work that anyone had to process in this day and age. You just have to do that deep breath thing and say ‘OK, I’m ready to run.’ And you can find it invigorating to do that. 

Throughout the day I’m always meeting with people. In my job, you’re influenced through relationship building and meetings. It’s always about meetings — from employees, to customers to regulators, whoever. 

At the end of the day, I try to do the same thing and have a half hour of quiet to get ready for the next day or week or whatever I’m trying to plan through. So I try to get two blocks of time where there’s nothing scheduled for at least 30 minutes.

I also walk to and from work. I walk about two miles each way. In that couple of miles, you’re going to be walking for 30-40 minutes depending on how slow you are, and that’s a really good time. You have to pay attention to what you’re doing, but your mind can wander at the same time. For me, that’s the best decompression moment by far. 

—As told to Megan Leonhardt