A perfectly timed day.
Not too rushed.
Not too bland.
Today is that day. What are the key ingredients to a perfectly timed day for a flow-loving, unpunctual, sporadically on-time guy like me?
- Plan a day ahead
- Wake up early
- Tackle big boulders first
- Don’t overbook
- Stop and smell the roses
- Go with the flow
Pick one of these techniques to learn at a time. Several of these habits will yield a future full post, but the fast and furious versions below will suffice. After you learn one of these habits, revisit this post when you want to pickup another to stack your daily deck for productive perfection.
Plan a day ahead
Don’t overthink this. Pick one or two ‘Lead Dominoes’ you want to tackle tomorrow. The Lead Domino concept comes from Gary Keller’s The ONE Thing. If you have many competing priorities, ask yourself “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” This focuses your day around high-value activities. You may still have tasks that don’t fit this criteria, but aim to get them done as time allows or right before they’re due. This clears your path for you to consistently deliver your maximum value.
Wake up early
Try it. Just once. Plan to go to bed an hour early for a week. Each day complete a thirty minute workout or a long walk, avoid caffeine in the afternoon, and enjoy a book, a bath, but no bedlam an hour before bed.
Day one might not feel great. You’re used to getting up later. Give it a few days. You will have an extra hour for yourself when your mind is fresh and the world is a little quieter. After a week ask yourself, “Is that hour spent staying up later as valuable as the extra hour in the morning?” Invest in yourself. You’re worth it.
Try it right now. Set a timer on your phone for one minute. In that one minute inhale each breath until your lungs are full enough to burst, then exhale slowly one drip of oxygen at a time. Repeat until time expires. That’s it. Set your timer. Close your eyes. Go.
Tackle big boulders first
If you know what your ‘Lead Dominoes’ are, start your day with one of them. If you haven’t planned ahead, scan your mental or electronic todo list for your most important item to complete today. Spend an hour working on these items. This is a simple practice once you plan ahead, wake up early, and meditate. If this practice is hard for you, you may want to start by focusing on those habits first.
Create slack time in your schedule. If your office operates on meeting overload, block some recurring ‘Private’ appointments to do your most important work. If that approach sounds laughable in your work environment, you need to consider resetting expectations or redesigning your job with your boss or finding a new job. Those are big conversations for another time. If you have a tendency to over schedule yourself, cut, cut, cut. Whatever you think is realistic to complete in a day, cut out three tasks. Pick items to cut that are either not urgent or won’t create high value for someone important to you.
Stop and smell the roses
This is literal. Get outside. Walk barefoot on the grass. Look up at the sky. Hear the airplanes. Breath the air deeply. Notice the details of the flowers, the snow, the raindrops. Walk your dog. Walk someone else’s dog. Walk with a friend. Just walk. Most of all when a beautiful moment in nature hits you unexpectedly, take a minute for yourself and savor it.
Go with the flow
When the unexpected happens and derails your day, remember that you’ll get another shot to live a perfect day tomorrow. When the urgency of the moment stops, get refocused on what you want to do with the rest of your day. Cut, cut, cut what remains from your day that you can live without completing for another day. Reset expectations with people if you need to cancel a meeting and explain the situation. You can’t control everything. You can always control how you react.
….we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.
– Chuck Swindoll