The blog

Previous article

Next article

27 Feb

A perfect day

Datum: 2023-02-27 09:00
A cut out of a hand from a large, red sheet of paper (I guess).

Oh, it’s such a per­fect day. I’m glad I spent it…” at work” is not what Lou Reed sings in the song Per­fect day”. Why? Prob­a­bly because work­days are rarely the ones we would describe as shim­mer­ing, delight­ful and perfect.

Per­haps we do not per­ceive our days as per­fect” due to what we have cho­sen to do dur­ing them. Speak­ing for myself, some days are great and I get the feel­ing that noth­ing can go wrong, while oth­ers are noth­ing spe­cial and just anoth­er day at work”.

The rea­son for things being the way they are

When I look back at a day that was not very good, it was often due to some prob­lem aris­ing. Some­thing in my plan­ning went wrong, some­thing unex­pect­ed occurred, and had I only tak­en pre­cau­tions in advance, the day would have turned out more to my liking.

So, to be quite hon­est, we are not all that help­less and at the mer­cy of cir­cum­stance, but can with our good struc­ture at least increase our chances of deal­ing with mat­ters that arise, dodge the bul­lets, and have more days that feel good and are in line with how we want our work­days to be.

Adjust your knobs and levers

But how? What tools do we have at our disposal?

Here are six com­po­nents we can exper­i­ment with to con­struct and com­pose the per­fect day.

  • How you start your day. Think about what you would describe as a good start to the day”. Find a morn­ing rou­tine and clar­i­fy it to your­self by for exam­ple writ­ing it down. If rou­tine” feels too big a step, just decide on one thing that you resolve to do every morn­ing when you get to work, and write it some­where where you will see it dai­ly — on a note, on your com­put­er desk­top, or in an eas­i­ly acces­si­ble dig­i­tal doc­u­ment. Deter­mine how many days you will test it out and see if it makes any dif­fer­ence to you, for exam­ple two weeks. Begin your new habit tomor­row morning.

  • Take advan­tage of your nat­ur­al rhythm. Some of us have most ener­gy dur­ing the morn­ing, and oth­ers dur­ing the after­noon. Some get most done in silence while oth­ers find that they are more pro­duc­tive whilst in the mid­dle of a crowd­ed room accom­pa­nied by a pleas­ant mur­mur of col­leagues talk­ing. Cat­e­go­rize your to-do-tasks by what sit­u­a­tion you feel most com­fort­able doing each one of them in. The cat­e­gories could for exam­ple be AM”, PM”, Ener­gized”, Tired”, Silent”, In the mid­dle of things”, and so on. Choose what to-do-task to do next pri­mar­i­ly based on in what con­text, mode or sit­u­a­tion you are in. If it is morn­ing, choose to do one of the tasks you pre­fer doing in the morn­ing and which you there­fore have labeled AM”.

  • How you take breaks. When is a good time for you to take a break? How long do they need to be and how often do you need them? Make an edu­cat­ed guess of what would be your ide­al break, and try it out for a few days. At the moment I am test­ing a rhythm of work­ing 50 min and then rest­ing com­plete­ly for 10 min­utes, when I have work to do for longer stretch­es of time by the com­put­er. Since I tend to get engulfed by the task I am work­ing on and for­get my breaks, I set a timer for 50 min and then 10 min. So far it is feel­ing good.

  • How many meet­ings do you have ener­gy for in a day? Cre­ate your own rule-of-thumb regard­ing how many meet­ings you can bear in a day. Two? Four? More? Few­er? When you see that a day in your cal­en­dar has been filled with the max­i­mum num­ber of meet­ings, block all the remain­ing time so that you are not tempt­ed to sched­ule more, and so that you are not avail­able for more requests in case oth­ers have access to your cal­en­dar as well.

  • How much time alone you have every week. Take a moment to con­sid­er how many hours you need to work alone each week, when you do not have any meet­ings or oth­er dis­trac­tions, in order to fin­ish all your tasks. Nine hours? More or less? Sched­ule recur­ring meet­ings with your­self at the times which oth­ers are least like­ly to require your atten­tion. If you want to, read about how you can play 15-puz­zle with your alone-time in a pre­vi­ous blog­post, and there­by stick to the num­ber of hours you need to your­self every week.

  • How you want to spend your lunchtime? What will you have for lunch on your per­fect work­day? What will make you feel good even after lunch and through­out the after­noon? With who do you want to eat? Some­one in par­tic­u­lar who inspires you, or with sev­er­al peo­ple at once? Some­one you can speak freely with, share what­ev­er you are going through at the moment, and give you the sup­port you need? If you do not have one of those ide­al lunch­es sched­uled at the moment, con­tact the per­son you pre­fer hav­ing lunch with and sug­gest a time and place.

These were some of the knobs and levers you could pull and tweak, but­tons you could push and aspects of your day you could adjust in order to make improve­ments, but I am sure your can think of a few more to alter and make your day into some­thing clos­er to what you would describe as perfect.

Do this

If you want to, choose one of the aspects described above to adjust (or some oth­er, com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent, but to you more rel­e­vant aspect) and decide on how you want your next few days ahead to be in terms of the aspect you have cho­sen to adjust.

If you need to do some­thing as a first step in order to make this change hap­pen, either do it right away or for­mu­late a to-do-task and add it to your list. Sched­ule that lunch, set your work/rest-timer, sched­ule time alone, write down the max­i­mum num­ber of meet­ings you will allow your­self in a day, author the embryo to the morn­ing rou­tine you wish to imple­ment even­tu­al­ly, or what­ev­er you might need to do.

Refine and adjust — again and again

If you want the days to come to be more in accor­dance to you pref­er­ences and choos­ing, do some­thing sim­ple along the lines of my sug­ges­tions, and you will find that your days will improve, even if ever so slight­ly. You might not have cov­ered all bases and pre­vent­ed all unex­pect­ed events that might come to pass, but you will at least have made it pos­si­ble to dodge one or two unpleas­ant sur­pris­es. If you con­tin­ue to refine and adjust the out­line of your aver­age day fre­quent­ly and in small steps, they will become more to your liking.

And, just as Lou Reed end­ed his song, You’re going to reap just what you sow”.

What knobs or levers do you turn?

Can you think of anoth­er aspect one might tweak or improve upon in order to design your own per­fect day? Share your thoughts with me.

Want more like this?

Brown haired girl wearing a light blue jumper, jeans and white sneakers sits in a grey lounge chair, reading an interesting tip on structure at work on her laptop.

If you want more tips on how to create good structure at work, there are many ways to get that from me - in podcasts, videos, books, talks and other formats.

Yes, I want more tips!