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How To Create Your Ideal Day To Work And Play

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:

  • 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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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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