Two Powerful Ways to Your Perfect Day

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Focus, Career change, procrastination

Find your focus - picture: Sergi's Blog

“Its such a perfect day – I wish I spent it with you” – Lou Reed, Perfect Day

Imagine a perfect day of focus.  From the minute you open your eyes, you are energised, in the zone and ready to go.  Throughout the day, you effortlessly work through your top priorities and get them done.  You deflect the interruptions with grace and constructively deal with the challenges that arise.  As you wind down at the end of the day, you feel fulfilled, content and satisfied.  This may sound unrealistic, unobtainable and a little bit crazy, however why not try to get as close as possible to this?

I’ve struggled with finding focus on a daily basis.  I’m a well known procrastinator, particularly when it comes to doing the most important (and for that read scary) things.  Yet recently I’ve found two really powerful techniques that have helped me immensely to move closer to having the perfect day, and here they are:

1. Plan out your day in scrupulous detail

One problem I had with being focussed and effective each day was that I didn’t even know what focus looked like.  To change this, I have taken to setting aside time each morning to create an incredibly detailed plan of attack for the day.  Starting with my prioritized to-do list (I’ll share how to create this later in the week), I work out the key priorities for the day – this includes things from work, my personal life and also how I’m going to take care of myself.  I use my calendar to see how much time I have available to make sure that this is realistic.  I then create an incredibly detailed programme for the day ahead with a blow by blow account of EXACTLY what order I will do everything and the timing for this.  For example today’s schedule looks like this:

8.30am Meditate

8.45am – Send key emails (and I have a list of exactly which ones)

9.15am – Clear out email accounts

10.00am – Go to Coffee Shop – Write four blog posts

12.30pm – Return home

12.45pm – Run – 4 miles tempo run

1.15pm – Post run stretching, shower

1.40pm – Lunch – spaghetti bolognese

2.00pm – Put postings on Linked In

2.30pm – Business Telephone calls (again I have a list of which ones)

3.30pm – Design ideal client experience

5.30pm – Scheduled business call

6.00pm – Do Crossword and relax

6.30pm – Send out personal emails

7.00pm – Cook supper, relax and read

Anyone who knows me will realise that this is the antithesis of my laid back personality.  Yet the remarkable thing is that it is 11.38am and I’m in the coffee shop finishing my second blog post of the day.

I’ve found that knowing what you want to achieve creates a real sense of focus and even if you follow the plan with 80% success, those days feel remarkably productive.  Mapping out your perfect day in obsessive detail is no guarantee of success every time, yet it gets you focused on what is most important and helps to reduce the draw of distractions during the day.  It is easier to get back on track and know what to revert to if you are thrown a curve-ball.

2. Act like you are being audited

This powerful technique came from the Change your Thoughts blog.  The key here is to act as if your actions are being audited each day.  Imagine that at the end of each day you have to justify what you did to a super critical auditor who will make you account for every second.  How easily could you justify what you did today?

To put this technique into practice, start out by “meeting the auditor” twice a day for a week – at lunchtime and at the end of the day.  Each time you meet, you need to justify your time since the last meeting – explain what you have done and what makes that important and useful.  You also have to explain your less productive time – that half hour on Facebook, the twenty minutes in the bathroom, the 3 hours watching TV.  Remember the auditor is not there to judge, only to listen and record.

The objective of this process is not to beat ourselves up, or to take all the fun out of life, it is simply to find focus.  One of my primary values is to take better care of myself and develop inner peace and happiness.  For me, finding time to meditate, run, read and simply relax and get quality time is justified and I can look the auditor in the eye with good conscience.   However, if I goofed out on the important deadline that I had and didn’t make an important call to go running, that is harder to justify.

Over time, your inner auditor will become internalised.  You’ll feel them looking over your shoulder as you start your game of Tetris and go back to finishing your spreadsheet.  It will become easier and easier to justify your time at the meetings as you find your focus improving.

So the perfect day may not happen every day, however using these techniques you can get closer to a focused and effective day to day existence.  As with all personal change some days will be better than others and you’ll need to be kind to yourself when the less good days come along.  However with persistence and patience you’ll find the Perfect Day may just be possible.  Let me know how your perfect day is, by commenting.

Related posts:

  1. Find your Focus – The Power of Now
  2. Find your Focus in 2010 – Feel the Fear and Do it anyway
  3. The Season of Thinking Big
  4. Thinking Big – The Story of the Orchard

Comments

  1. Phil
    January 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    What do you do to have your perfect day? Please share your inspiration with the Less Ordinary World.

  2. January 26, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil,

    I’ve never thought about planning out my day in detail. I do think about tasks more generally speaking but never in such detail. I do find though that I can wake up when I tell myself to. E.g. if I say the night before I want to wake up at 8am I will.

    I may have to give the unorthodox technique a go! :-)
    .-= Amit Sodha – The Power Of Choice´s last blog ..Honouring People And Cultures With Language Skills =-.

  3. Phil
    January 27, 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Amit -

    Thanks for your comment – definitely give this a go for one day with a detailed plan. This technique takes away the brain’s desire to start playing games and slowing us down – we can just focus on what is happening in the now and systematically move through the day with focus. Drop me a comment and let me know how it goes.

    Cheers!

    Phil

  4. January 27, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil,
    Thanks so much for the great post. I will admit, I’m a go-with-the-flow kinda person (in other words, I can’t focus for very long!) However, I did indeed try this method of planning out your day in detail. AND IT WORKED! The key for me was putting in all the personal things I wanted to do in the day as well such as showering, putting in a load of laundry, etc. This helped me balance those work from home distractions with the most important work things I had to get done.

    Thanks for the great tip! I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. :)

  5. Phil
    January 28, 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Carly – thanks for giving this a go. Its amazing how sometimes things we didn’t expect can make a difference. I think in life giving things a try is often the best approach. I like the structured day, because it removes the need to overthink and takes out time pressure too. Really appreciate your comment

    Phil

  6. Ines
    January 28, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Phil – I totally agree with you. I’ve been planning my tasks in detail for quite some time and I find it very helpful. Even when I can’t finish the things I had planned to do, at least I can figure out exactly where in the day I’ve “wasted” my time, and I can use it as an input for next day tasks. Besides, I don’t spend time with the feeling that there was something I should have done and not remembering what it was.
    Congratulations on your blog.
    Ines

  7. Phil
    January 29, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Ines – Thanks for some great feedback. Your observation about removing regret over those “phantom” tasks that buzz around our head is spot on. This way, everything goes down on paper instead and can be dealt with calmly. Please keep reading and commenting on the blog and stay focused.

    Phil

  8. Tasha
    January 31, 2010 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Hi Phil, this is great and I”m going to give it a go. My challenge will be that I work in a highly reactive role with a large number of staff and clients who can ‘hijack’ my plans at any given moment. To date I’ve really focussed on using this type of planning for between 8am – 10am and then from 3pm on to leave time for proactive and reactive interaction with staff and clients. This work somewhat. The thing that gets bumped is usually ‘me’ stuff so I’m going to try and put that into a plan. Thank you for inspiring me! Now my husband is the procrastinator so I’m going to send him a copy!!

  9. Phil
    February 1, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Tasha -

    Thanks for your first comment on LOL. Working in a very reactive environment is a challenge as it easily distracts our focus. Having a skeleton plan for the day can help us to get back on track once our attention has been diverted. I sometimes find myself running around with my hair on fire during the day. Going back to my list and starting from where I left off gets me back into the zone and regains focus. Adding the new tasks created by clients and staff to your master task list will help to see them in context and prioritize them. Good luck with applying this and please keep reading and sharing this.

    Phil

2 Trackbacks

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  2. By Achieve more - Find your Natural Rhythm on February 1, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    [...] information wisely by matching activities to energy levels.  When you are putting together your daily plan, try to schedule your highest priority activities which require the most energy and concentration [...]

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