Can Envisioning Your Ideal Day Help You Get More Done?

Can Envisioning Your Ideal Day Help You Get More Done?

IdealDayBadge

This is Week 7 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested Jason Womack’s technique of envisioning my ideal day each morning. I wrote what I envisioned using idonethis and then followed up by writing how it went. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see what I planned to do this week.

How Envisioning My Ideal Day Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me become less task focused. Even though the metric I’ve been using is “getting more done,” the truth is that’s not all I’m after. I want to have peace in knowing I’ve used the gift of this day well. Thinking about my ideal day helped me consider more than just things to do, but people to love, and experiences I wanted to have. That gave me some peace this week.
  • Gave me a general guide for the day. I didn’t plan to envision my days this way, but I ended up writing down how I saw the day unfolding, step by step. As long as I kept this guide in mind, it worked well to help me recall what I really wanted my day to look like. It also helped me take all my commitments for the day into account.
  • Got me to do things I ordinarily wouldn’t have. I found this was especially true in the evenings when I’m much harder to motivate. I made time for my kids and for reading and I felt great about that.

How Envisioning My Ideal Day Made Me Crazy This Week

  • I wasn’t well. I had another week of extreme fatigue and that made thinking about my ideal day that much harder. I finished the week feeling better though and I’m hopeful to be back to normal soon.
  • Started off as an unrealistic routine. At first, I approached my ideal day list as a have-to list. That didn’t work well. I felt like I didn’t want to do any of it then. The rebel in me kicked in. But then I reminded myself that this was just a wish list–not a requisition–and it helped a lot. It also helped not referring to it, but just remembering what I’d written.

Did Envisioning My Ideal Day Help Me Get More Done?

Yes. At first I thought my answer was going to be no, but that’s because I expected to do everything I had planned. When I started seeing it as a general guide and not a must-do list, I started seeing progress. I plan to continue doing this mentally, though I don’t plan to continue recording it via idonethis for the time being.

**UPDATE**

I do this now using an app called the 5 Minute Journal. I answer questions about what would make today great. I do believe it makes a difference.

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 8

“Do it tomorrow” doesn’t sound like very wise advice until you read Mark Forster’s book. I read Do It Tomorrow a number of years ago, tried the approach, and failed miserably. Having a number of years of experience in productivity, I decided to give it another try. I re-read the book and I think I understand what went wrong last time and I’m very excited to test it this week.

The concept. Most of us aren’t efficient in getting our work done, because we do things as a reaction. We attend to all kinds of requests as though they were urgent, when most of them aren’t. By waiting a day to do those that aren’t argent, we can organize them to get them done quickly. All the day’s email and paper can be handled at once, for example. The idea is that you are always completing one day’s work rather than an endless stream of tasks. Any work you have now that you’re behind on (including email) is declared a backlog. The first part of your work day is devoted to clearing the backlog–at least 5 minutes every day, and then for as long as you wish. The rest of your day is devoted to working on the tasks that came in yesterday. The idea is that you can stay on top of your work, and if you can’t, you need to figure out why and take steps to address it.

Do it Tomorrow is chock full of ideas for dealing with projects, finding time to work on meaningful goals, and addressing procrastination. It’s a great read! (The links above are affiliate links.) I’ll be using IQTell to manage my Do it Tomorrow approach, but a dated diary works beautifully, too. (Note: My past mistake that I’ll avoid this time was entering many tasks that were really part of my backlog to action the next day.)

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. 1. Put all work you’re behind on into backlog folders where it’s out of sight. 2. Collect all today’s incoming work and deal with it in batches tomorrow with the goal of completing all of it. If you take action on a project and have more to do on it, re-enter it for the next day. 3. Items that you must action today (because they’re urgent) should be written on a separate list. 4. Spend the first part of every work day clearing your backlog. If you’d rather not order the book, but still want some guidance, search the forum on Mark Forster’s website for DIT.

Click here to see how my week with DIT went.

If you’ve tried envisioning your ideal day to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

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Can a Guilt Hour Help You Get More Done?

Can a Guilt Hour Help You Get More Done?

Lifehacker Guilty Hour

This is Week 6 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested the ability of Nick Jehlen’s Guilt Hour, as described on Lifehacker to help me get things done. I did not work with a team, nor did I plan to use a one-hour time slot a week, but four 15-minute guilt-attacking periods. Scroll to the end of this post for a full description of my test.

How the Guilt Hour Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me realize how guilty I feel. This may have been the worst week for me to test this approach because I was playing catch-up from the week before when I had many scheduled commitments. I felt guilty about putting things off, especially when people started asking me about them. Thinking about doing what I feel most guilty about made me realize that there aren’t many things I don’t feel guilty about. That’s an important piece of my productivity pie.
  • Encouraged me to spend quality time with my kids. Maybe my kids are reading this blog, because two of them asked me to spend individual time with them this week and I couldn’t refuse. Of course, I feel guilty about not having individual time with the kids. My son asked to use a gift card he’d gotten for his birthday, so we went out for a great dinner together. I’ve already seen improvement in his attitude as a result. My daughter asked for a girl’s night which she planned so many activities for, it ended up being a girl’s DAY, too. When all is said and done, no one will remember that I got buttons stitched on, woodwork cleaned, or a blog plugin installed. But my kids will remember their time with mom.

How the Guilt Hour Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Too much I feel guilty about. I felt very overwhelmed trying to decide which guilty tasks to focus on–especially because I felt guilty enough just trying to dig my way out of last week’s backlog.
  • Vague time commitment. I hadn’t scheduled time to do this. I just knew that I would be doing four 15-minute periods. But after spending almost an entire day and night with my kids, I didn’t feel like I could afford to spend more time on the Guilt Hour. That made me feel–you guessed it!–guilty.
  • Tapped into my procrastination issues. I’ve discovered that guilt and procrastination are a vicious cycle. It really doesn’t matter which I start with (guilt or procrastination), because I’m in trouble either way. I need more than a guilt hour to get me to tackle some of these tasks, I’m afraid. The little-and-often approach of SMEMA from last week might help. Maybe I needed the support of other people tackling their guilt-producing tasks, too.

Did the Guilt Hour Help Me Get More Done?

In general, NO. I invested time in my children which is extremely important to me, but in terms of getting things–even just guilt-laden tasks–done, it did not work for me. It’s possible this was a bad week, that scheduling it as a complete hour, and getting support might help. But for now, it’s not something I plan to continue.

**UPDATE**

Unsurprisingly, I still do not use a Guilt Hour and avoid feeling guilty about tasks. Instead, I take Sundays off completely to do ONLY what I want to do (aside from family, friend, and church commitments). This works much better for me.

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 7

IdealDayBadge

Jason Womack believes that envisioning your ideal day is the best way to make it happen. He spends 15 minutes a day picturing how he’d like the next 24 hours to go.

The concept. By imagining how you’d like your day to unfold, you’re reviewing your goals, your tasks, and your time in a realistic way. After all, no one’s ideal day is working at an intense pace for 24 hours with no breaks. A friend mentioned that she was going to use SMEMA in conjunction with envisioning her ideal day and I thought that was a great idea. I’m not committed to spending a full 15 minutes, but I will do this every day this week in written form using idonethis. I have my idonethis email sent to me in the morning, so I can email my ideal day to idonethis in the morning and write back in the evening with what my day was actually like.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read Jason’s description of how he envisions his ideal day. Decide if you’ll record it and follow up like I am or will just dream it. Check out idonethis if you’re interested in recording your ideal day. It’s free.

Click here to see how envisioning my ideal day worked for me.

If you’ve tried the Guilt Hour to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

read more

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