What is your ideal day?

December 2, 2010


On Monday, I felt energized and optimistic and I got a lot accomplished in my personal work and my work work. It was such a contrast after my restless weekend that it really stood out to me.

The next morning, I was re-reading some of the passages I highlighted in The Art of Non-Conformity (see Reading page). It’s my favorite career and lifestyle design guide. In his chapter titled “Setting the Terms of Your Unconventional Life,” Chris Guillebeau recommends the exercise of writing out the details of your perfect day. What does an ideal day look like for you? When do you get up? What do you eat? What activities do you do? Who do you talk to? What’s the sequence of events?

The goal is to learn about yourself and try to incrementally get your real life closer to the ideal. I had never actually completed the exercise because such a blue-sky task felt daunting.

But as I was reading, I decided to write out a timeline of everything I did the previous day. Easy, concrete, not daunting. While it may not have been my ideal day, it was a good one. And it was revealing. If you don’t stop and think about this stuff, it just blows right past and one day blurs into the next and you’re left as clueless as ever.

I think the biggest contributor toward my great Monday was that I worked half the day in the office and half the day at home. (I had to meet a repairman at my house in the afternoon.) I wrote a blog post on my lunch hour. And instead of fighting the evening commute, I went to the gym. Which meant I got back from the gym earlier with plenty of time and energy to obsess over my blog stats, read The Economist with a glass of Beaujolais, and organize addresses for my holiday card list.

The thing that stands out to me as I review the timeline is integration. Work (for my employer) was not totally segregated. My efforts were comingled and I actually got more accomplished and felt productive and pleased at the end of the day.

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