How to blueprint your days

What if a door to door salesman knocked on yours tomorrow telling you he had a recipe to make the best day of your life possible? I’d be curious.
If I asked you; Do you want to make your day better in every possible way? It’s likely everybody would answer yes, unless you think I am lying. Luckily, I am not, because it’s all on you and I’ve got nothing to gain.

The truth is, everybody can make their day better if they’d tried. For some strange reasons we don’t, because we are to tiered, we lack creativity, or we don’t know how. In this article, I will talk about the how, the creativity and energy part will be on you.

Blueprinting your day is an exercise that can help you improve toward having better habits, being more productive, focus on what you want and getting more enjoyment out of life.

What I call blueprinting the day is:
“To spend some time thinking, planning and refining what you believe would be your perfect day in order to make it possible, through continuous improvements, by tracking, comparing and adjusting overtime.”

Setting the frame

Obviously, a perfect day is quite vague idea. It’s different for everyone and it is highly subjective.
Our days are also dependent on ever changing variables that are outside of our control. Does that make it impossible to have a perfect day? I don’t think so.

You see, having a perfect day, is more of a feeling that a fact. It’s obviously a feeling that derives from facts, so that is where we have to focus our attention and find a balance.

Because their are many a types of day we could be having, the first thing we need to do is to start with one. We refine our thinking by narrowing down or framing which type of day we will be focusing on.

We have to take into consideration, the type of activities we will be performing (is it a holiday or workday), time of the year (summer or winter), circumstances (are we going to be social or isolated, event (public or private obligations), etc.

You might think: “There is no way a perfect day for me would be a work day!” But the fact is, you do work, and you are and will go through different kind of days throughout your life. Does it means one is better than the other? not necessarily. Is vanilla better than chocolate?

They can each be perfect, in their own way, and therefore, I encourage you to have different blueprints. Hence, we come up with a few different blueprints for different days in our lives, such as weekdays, or workdays, weekends days at home, weekend days away, holidays, days with friend, etc. However, it’s best to start with one.

Once you know what kind of day you will be working with, it’s time to actually get to work.

The self-reflexion process

What do you want?

In order to have the perfect day, you need to be clear on what you want out of life, and out of your day. If you unsure about what you want, how do you expect to get it ? Worse, you might already have it, not even noticing it when it happens to you.

Be clear on what your want by going through these questions. Please spend some time and try to answer them in details, and as accurately as you can.
These are questions you can often come back to, that will influence how you will organise your day and your life:
-What are my values?
-What is currently important to me?
-what is the most important things in life? In my life?
-What do I believe is going right and wrong in my life? in the world?
-Who do I want to be? Or what kind of person do I want to be?
-How do I show my values and personal qualities in my daily life?
-How could I show more of these in my life? What action can I take so that I personify these values?
-What experience do I want to have? What are the things that I want to experience?
-What do I like doing?
-what makes me happy? When? why? how? with whom?
-What do I not like doing?
-what makes me unhappy? When? why? how? with whom?
-What do I think I am good at? Not good at?
-What activities, people, projects are important to me?
-What makes me bored?
-What are my goals? What do I want to achieve
-what do I want to give to the world?
-What do I want to have for myself?
-What do I want to accomplish
-How am I getting there?
-what are my triggers? Makes me in a good mood? bad mood?
-What do I allocate time to?
-What are my priorities?
-how can I make what I want happen?

It is surprising the amount of people who have no idea how to answer these questions for themselves. Seriously, do yourself a favor and grab pen and paper, right now, and spend a couple of hours reflecting on these, it won’t be a waste of time. You can stop reading I won’t be offended.

After you have spend some time with self-inquiry, you start to become more clear on what you want your life to look like. The next step is to manifest this life in your days.
You can become more clear on what you need to do during your days.

Once you identify what you really want out of your life, you can start a process of refining your choices and actions in order to make it a reality in your days.

Nonetheless, it is important that this exercise remains realistic. A dream day (which is a different exercise), with unlimited resources or living in a fantasy world is nice to think about but unpractical. Focus on what you actually believe is possible for you, that you can achieve, you can have, right now, or soon.

Because or lives change constantly, blueprints are subject to evolution which is completely fine. Hopefully, as you better your life and yourself, your daily blueprints will change for the better as well. Maybe you will incorporate in your blueprints activities that you never though possible before.

The blueprint process:

Start scheduling and planing you days:

If you want the best days, don’t leave things to chance and randomness. Having a plan doesn’t mean that you’re close of and won’t experience serendipity. It will give you a direction and a frame that supports you.

Planning and scheduling you days around what you want to achieve and experience what you envision, will make it much more likely for you to manifest it.

What do I want out of my day according to what I want out of life?

Once your clear on your goals, priorities, what you enjoy and want to do and not do, you can start to organise yourself and make it real in your day to day life. First define, what you specifically want out of the Blueprint you are working in.

As an example, here are the thing I want out of a writing working day:
-System that support my health, energy, happiness, wellbeing, productivity
-Positive and pleasant Morning and evening routines
-purposeful and effective breaks
-Meaningful productive work:
>Producing content, creating value
-Minimum amount of administrative work and marketing (make it as efficient as possible)
-Meaningful relationships
-Have fun, laugh, feel good
-Positive impact, help other people
-time for Deliberate learning and/or new experiences
-Growing and learning, (try something new)
-practice a skill or knowledge based learning.
-Exercise and move
-time outside
-meaningful evenings.
-great sleep

Then make a list of the activities and how they are performed that will provide you with what your want. Then you can start a schedule

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Peter F. Drucker

Organise a schedule

Find a way to fit your blueprint into your schedule, or better yet, make your schedule flow from your blueprint.

Mark down all the commitment that you have, the activities and tasks that you organized, and then find a way to use your remaining time in a positive way.

“A plan is what, a schedule is when. It takes both a plan and a schedule to get things done.” Peter Turla

Organize systems that backup your perfect day:

Once you have identify what a perfect day look like, you need to work toward making it happen?
Happenstance is a shaky strategy at best. If you want something, find out what actions and processes can help you get it.

-Systems are habits
-way of operating
-way of thinking
-way of behaving
-be value driven: That mean, do activities and operate in a way that is in line and support your values, and who you are.

If you have difficulty finding out how you can improve, start by questioning yourself and seek your own answers:
What can I do or put in place to be…. (ex:more healthy, full of energy, fit)?
How can I:
-Have more Meaning in my day
-Have meaningful relationship
-Be more productive
-Learn something new
-Be more effective.

You have to be creative and find your own answers. If you really ask yourself properly, you usually find out, how you can change for the better, it just take the effort to get there. Just commit to positive change. Deep down, you know that it is worth it.

You can also draw inspiration from your role models. If there is someone that you admire and/or want to be like. You can even seek guidance from someone who has already achieved what you want, and model your behavior after theirs.

Renforce these systems through a positive feedback loop leading to an upward spiral of improvement. Once you have establish a positive habit, or a system that is beneficial, try to renforce it, make it more efficient, and tie it with other systems and habits so that it is self-reinforcing.

Though this process of self-experimentation and self-refinement, you will improve gradually until you get results that you never thought were possible.

The tacking process

Keeping track of your current activities:

Before you start making change, the first step is to keep track what your days already look like. A good way to do that is to set a period when you are going to journal and report everything that you do. Spend a bit of time doing it each day, be diligent, especially at the start. Try to be as precise as possible, describing every details. It might be tedious now, but there are great payoffs.

You can do it before bed, or even twice a day, for more accuracy and details. Be completely honest with yourself. The journal is for you, nobody is going to read it apart from you, nothing needs to be proved to anybody. Wherever you are is good. You want to put everything down, from the best to the worst. Only with an accurate picture can you makes significant improvement.

Keep track for a significant length of time, at least a week or two. You will be able to more data and identify emerging patterns as well as inconsistencies.

The more accurate the picture, the more refine your knowledge will be of your daily life. In an ideal scenario, we could imagined being filmed 24/7 for the duration of this tracking period.
Imagine that you are like an operating system of a computer. This period is spend observing how it runs. Being clear on how your operate will make future changes a lot easier.

Start rating what you are currently doing:

After keeping track of what you have been doing for a minimum amount of time, say a week or two, take some time to reflect back on these last couple of weeks.

Set aside an hour and reread everything that you wrote down. On a scale of one 1 to 10. Rate the enjoyment and/or usefulness of everything that you did.

Through this process , you can identify what really made your day, what you didn’t enjoy doing, what was useful and what was waisted.

Pay particular attention to:
-The best experiences you’ve had (the context, the people, the activity)
-Things that were really useful to you (made mesurable progress, learned, gained)
-Productive activity (created net value)
-Time wasted (no benefit in productivity nor enjoyment)

With this rating in mind, you can start to re-organise your activity in favor of what is good. Hopefully, through this pruning process, you can move closer to your perfect day.

A daily review consists of:
-comparing what I did with what I would like to have done.
-identify the reasons why I swayed, was it justified, did I follow positive opportunities or got distracted
– Identify triggers, mistakes, and solutions for improvement
-be happy about what I did well, and identify why
-review: did I get what I wanted, rating productivity and enjoyment of the day for each activities

The improvement process

Identify patterns, define your habits:

You can probably start to notice trends in the way you spend your time. These trends are your habits. For example: brushing your teeth after breakfast and/or before you go to bed.
Your habits are activities or behavior that you perform on a regular basis, without having to think about it. They do not take much efforts.

If you have rated what you did the last couple of weeks, you can identify some of your habits.
You can separate these habits in 2 categories, positive habits and negative habits.
Positive habits serves you well, we want more of theses. Negative habits don’t, we want less of theses. The process of self-management and self-development will be to refine your habits over time, so you can be supported instead of hindered by them. Habits are good servant but poor masters.

Changing your habits for better one, is a refinement process that will make you future days better and better, more enjoyable, more productive, supporting your goals.

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” Albert Einstein

Sort your habits and behaviors into categories to understand them better:

-Physical action and behavior
-response to triggers (identify the trigger and the response)
-thinking patterns
-social habits
-stress relief/dopamine release habits
-addictions
-organizational habits/ logistical
-how you process information, automate task, and learn

Adjusting your behaviors for better results:

Once your blueprints are established, you have something to strive for. Our schedule is establish, we are then looking for consistency and fidelity with the plan. It’s one thing to plan something, another to make it happen.

It’s find if your current days are not looking anything like your blueprints, as long as you are making progress. Make each day a little better will amount to massive differences in no time.

That is also why it’s important for your blueprint to remain realistic. If there is to many change happening at once, you will likely give up soon and lose all progress.

Looking for fidelity means comparing each of your days with your ideal day. When you review your day, make notes of what went well and what didn’t.

If you fail to do something that you wanted to do or did something that you wanted to avoid, try to identify the reason and mechanism behind what happen:
-How did my day differ from my blueprint? why?
-How did you feel in….situation?
-What triggered you?
-How was the environment designed?
-Time of day, situation?
-Was it to ambitious?
-Did you manage to go half way or failed entirely?
-How can you improve?
-Can you identify why you failed?
-How did it feel afterwards?
-What can you change so the same thing doesn’t happen in the future?
-Can you create a system so that you do better next time.?

Making micro-adjustments:

Change does not happen overnight, and it often takes time for result to manifest. Do not be discouraged if your current days are far from your blueprints, or dream day. All you need is to be process oriented and move in the right direction.

Make micro-adjustments everyday in order to improve just a little. Maybe it is doing one extra minute of work. Start one micro-habit, pay a bit more attention, go the extra miles.
If you constantly think about how you can make your activities better and act on it, you will inevitably move forward.

“Make the most of yourself….for that is all there is of you.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

To Recap, the process involves:
-Keep track
-Evaluate
-Identify
-Adjust
-Improve

Extra tips regarding schedules and blueprints.

Keeping a schedule and blueprints are great organizational and tracking tools, but they can also have downsides, such as causing stress and inflexibility.
Try to find a balance that work for you. If you find yourself stress out by these exercise, maybe you are going to hard and can ease off a little. Make your schedule less precise and incorporate some leeway into your day.

Stay adaptable:

Inevitably you will vary from your planned perfect day. In life, things come up, and that’s fine. The fact that you cannot comply a 100% with your plan is OK.

Don’t try to be perfect, rigid and stressed out when events do not go according to plan.
Blueprinting your day is a guideline that lets you determine what you like to do, what give you meaning and enjoyment, and how to incorporate systems and habits that support you instead of working against you.

When something unexpected come up, put your schedule aside and reorganize your priorities. Try to identify how long the unexpected event will take and how important it is, then prioritize.

It’s fine to skip things in your schedule, push things until later, if you have to deal with a urgent priority or if a better opportunity comes up.

Stay open to changing your schedule everyday will let you be more adaptable, be more alert to opportunities, respond more effectively to situations as they arrise, and save you hassles.

You schedule and planning should not be stressful but relaxing instead. I used to get stress out after writing a to do list, or established a programme I needed to follow. I felt constricted and that it would take out the fun and spontaneity out of my life. Because of that, I had difficulty sticking with those programmes and often loose the small progress that I’ve made, or failed to establish helpful habits in the long run.

Treat your schedule as something compelling instead, that frees you from the hassle of permanent choice making and saves you from decision fatigue. If you know what comes next, you need a lot less effort to get on with it, because you have a sense of direction and that you have already decided.

If you really have zero motivation to do something in your schedule, don’t do it. Willpower and discipline are important but also overrated. The fact that you lack motivation gives you valuable information that you should reflect on. Maybe find out why.

Maybe you are tiered and need a proper rest. Or maybe you feel compelled to do something else. If you swap something productive for something else that’s productive that you would prefer doing, why not.

Your brains also knows and send you cues of what ressources are available at the moment. Sometime you might be more creative, some other time, you might be more practical, sometime you want to move your body and have fun. Has long as you find a positive way to express your impulses, you can remain free and instinctive as well as act toward your goals.

Maybe sometimes you just need to re-shuffle your schedule around so that you achieving the same thing at the end of the day, but simply at different time.

“Take a rest. A field that has rested yields a beautiful crop.” Ovid

Know when to stick at it:

Practice makes perfect, and project takes time to complete. Sometime we do not feel like doing something that we know we should. More often than not, the hardest part is to start. Once we’re on our way, we often keep going.

Scheduling an planning things in advance that you find difficult to stick at can help you do them. Because you do not feel like doing theses things, you will never ‘happen’ to do it once you’ve got time. You need to make time.

By making time, you are creating a mental representation of the task and are preparing yourself to do it, making it that much more likely that it will happen.

You can also prepare the terrain, everything that you’ll need to perform, and set triggers or reminders to help you get started.

You can also keep track of how you actually feel while performing seemingly “boring” tasks. Are you actually bored while doing the task, or is it your mental representation. Are they ways to automatise the task, to make it more fun or more efficient.

Often, we remain “bad” and inefficient at task that we don’t enjoy, maintaining their status of being unpleasant. If we become efficient even at task we don’t like, we can cut our time in activities we’d rather not be doing. That involves keeping track, being creative, and trying to improve even at things we originally don’t like.

You’ll find that oftentimes, when you try to make a boring tasks more efficient, it can become more appealing. It can be turn into an efficiency game or a challenge.

Different days = different needs:

Dont get stuck in one mode, identify what you need and should seek depending on the situation.
Do you need to be more productive and try harder ? Or do you need to stop stressing, relax and stop trying so hard?

Identify which situation and/or day you are in:
Today, do I want to make things happen, relax, have fun, be challenged, etc?
What do I want out of my work day?
What do I want out of my….activity..? (be mindful of priorities)
What do I want my…. day?
What do I want out of my weekend? Weekend away? Weekend with friends? Weekend learning?
Weekend at home?
What do I want with my holidays? Relaxation? Traveling? With family? Sport? Developmental?

To summaries, having a blueprint for your days allow you to:
-Identify and focus on your priorities
-Increase productivity and efficiency
-Identify what works and what doesn’t
-Allow you to make progress toward perfect days

This is an ongoing process, in order to improve your days you need to:
-Keep track and compare
-reflect
-Improve efficiency and enjoyment overtime (reduce decision fatigue, form habits, reduce resistances, establish process, etc)

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Ernest Hemingway

I hope this article gave you some pointers on how to start your own process of making you days just how you want them to be. I wish you the best in this endevour.

Thanks for reading

Vince

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