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How To Create Your Ideal Day To Work And Play

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How To Create Your Ideal Day To Work And Play

The human brain is the most powerful organism in the animal kingdom. Scientists discover more and more about this organ’s amazing capabilities every day.

One of the things that’s becoming more and more apparent is you have the ability to create what you want by using the power of your mind. Use these 10 methods to start cultivating your ideal day today.

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Write down what your ideal day looks like.

There’s a useful exercise I’ve used over the years to help me create a crystal clear vision of my goals and dreams. Here’s how to do it: write down a detailed account of what your ideal day looks like. Start with when you first wake up, and write down everything you would do in a perfect day.

Visualize it.

Once you’ve written a detailed account, visualize your ideal day. Spend time every day really feeling it. Right when you wake up and before you go to bed are great times to do this. It helps your brain form the mental image of your ideal day in your subconscious.

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Make a commitment to live out your ideal day.

In his increasingly hard-to-find and now famous book, The Social Animal, psychologist Elliot Aronson details fascinating research around the power of commitment. The basic premise is simple: when you commit to do something (either verbally or in writing), you’re much more likely to follow through. Simple though it may be, committing to living out your ideal day can be a useful strategy to help you make it come to life.

Start small.

You don’t create your ideal day overnight. It takes time to build the necessary habits that stick. So go back to the ideal day you wrote down and visualized and ask yourself, “What’s the easiest thing to accomplish on this list?” For example, maybe during your ideal day you spend five minutes in the morning meditating or doing yoga. Focus on doing this small habit every day for the next few weeks. Once it becomes habit, move on to the next thing on your “perfect day” list.

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Think positive thoughts.

Harness the power of positive thinking, which is supported by mountains of empirical evidence. Your days unfold in accordance with your thoughts. So work on keeping those thoughts positive, even when you’re stressed. Identify the triggers that make you upset each day, and start changing those thought patterns. For example, maybe you hate traffic and slow drivers cause you to go mad on a regular basis. Try bringing an audio CD in your car that contains soothing music or an audio book about positive thinking and happiness. This will help curtail some of those angry thoughts. Negativity arises from habits but you can un-learn these habits with practice.

Start doing work you love.

What do you love to do? What type of work makes you happiest? Take some time to think about the answers to those questions. Then start doing it. Love to write? Start a blog or journal. Love playing music? Then set aside 15 minutes each day to do it. The key here is to just start. Once you habitually do the things you love, you’ll be much closer to achieving the vision of your perfect day.

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Create habits.

More than anything else, creating better habits will help you accomplish your goals and cultivate your ideal day. In Charles Duhigg’s insightful book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, he talks about using the cue-routine-reward approach to developing better habits. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Take your written version of your ideal day you created and identify the specific behaviors needed for each part of your day (i.e. doing yoga). Start with one behavior at a time.
  2. Identify your cue for the behavior you want to form into a habit. For example, if your ideal day includes doing yoga, your cue might be “waking up” or “getting home from work.”
  3. Start working on this habit every day (for just five minutes to start).
  4. Take one minute every day to recognize the reward you’re getting from this new habit. For example, if you do yoga you’ll probably experience increased flexibility and an increased sense of self. Allow yourself to anticipate these rewards every day.
  5. Once this habit has become ingrained, move on to the next behavior.

Manage your time better.

We waste an incredible amount of time each day. Creating habits is the first step toward automating how you spend your time, but there are several other strategies you can use too, like these:

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  • Delegate tasks.
  • Check email only once or twice a day.
  • Talk on the phone as little as possible.
  • Set timers to increase productivity.
  • Commit to watching just one hour of TV per day (most people watch three to four).

Measure your progress.

Make checklists and to-do lists your best friends. They help you measure your progress toward your ideal day. Keep a daily planner, and at the start of each day write at the top: “Actions I will take today to get closer to my ideal day.” Write down your action steps, then check things off as you do them. I personally use this strategy, and it works.

Keep focusing on the journey.

Don’t get caught up on the end goal. Creating your ideal day is about the journey–those day-to-day action steps that culminate into healthy, efficient, productive behaviors. You have the power to create your own happiness. Life is simple, so stop over-analyzing and start doing. If you fail, so what? You’ll learn from those missteps. You won’t learn from doing nothing. Life is about the people you meet and the things you create. So go out and start creating your ideal day right now.

More by this author

Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

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