I recently completed the Focus Course Academy, run by the team at Blanc Media. I went on to join a Spring Mastermind with some of my classmates. I shared with them how on hard days, I relied on my anchor points. This resonated with them, so I thought I might share it with you.
Now - I’m warning you, none of this is rocket science.
- Get up on time
- Journal and Meditate
- Plan the Day
- Execute the Day
- Stop on Time
- Sleep on Time
That’s it. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.
First of all, a smidgen of self-awareness. “Hard Days”. By any objective measure, I don’t have hard days. I’m a very privileged and lucky fellow. However, some days, I find it a real struggle to get motivated and productive. Covid certainly hasn’t helped, but I had crap days before it came along too.
1. Get up on time
I’m an early-riser. I usually wake before my alarm, which is set as a fall back. I usually get up between 0500 and 0600. I find an early start makes me feel ahead of the day.
2. Journal and Meditate
I keep a journal, in a Hobonichi Techo, with a fountain pen. Nothing earth-shattering, simple notes about the day past and my plans for the day to come. It’s a ritual, I suppose. Meditate, I use Calm on my phone, with my AirPods. Some days practice is focused, others not. No stress. I believe this is far more fundamental than I give it credit for.
I walk the dogs, and in the summer, I swim too. The positive impact of exercise is well-documented, and walking two adorable mutts is the best therapy anyone could ever ask for. If we could all take dog-like enthusiasm into life, what fun we would all have.
4. Plan the Day
Plans are useless, planning is indispensable - that’s from Dwight D Eisenhower. I check my calendar and my task manager - then time-block the day. Will I exactly follow the plan? I doubt it - but that doesn’t detract from the need to plan.
5. Execute the Day
Here’s the “hard day” bit. If I’m struggling, I probably don’t fancy the things that I have planned to do. So - I might start to look for places to move those blocks, which is fine, but mostly, I sigh and open the right app. The time-block is just enough of a prompt to get me started.
6. Stop on Time
I don’t work late any more. I had got into a habit of seeing the evening as legitimate overflow time. I could even move blocks into the evening hours. Having more time didn’t make me more productive, it encouraged longer procrastination and made me feel conflicted for longer. Now, I stop at stop time.
7. Sleep on Time
I’m old and crusty, and I’ve been up since 5. I try to get to be bed for 10, 11 at latest and I read for a few minutes before falling into the arms of Morpheus.
When I’m not “feeling it”, I adjust my sights. Just hit the anchor points, I tell myself. Smart reader that you are, you will have noticed that number 5 is a big ask - however, my sulky demotivated self is not as smart as you. By the time I have dragged myself down to the office after walking the dogs, I’m halfway through the list. So, huffing and puffing like a hormonal teenager, I keep going. Does the day produce my best stuff? Maybe not, but in reality, I actually enjoy what I do. It’s the thought of it that overwhelms me sometimes.
Oh. And I’m moody.
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