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Defining Your Ideal Day

Defining Your Ideal Day
By August Bradley • Issue #26 • View online
In this Issue:
  • Essay: Defining Your Ideal Day
  • New Habits & Routines Video
  • Favorite Finds

Greetings everyone! I hope your year is off to a strong start. If not, there’s still time to create a springboard into 2021. If you haven’t already, you can still do the Annual Review — it works at any time of the year to create a reset and re-launch, not just early January. The first 10% of an initiative has a disproportionate impact on the other 90%. So get structured and lay out a game plan for the year.
The Next Notion PPV Course
We’re preparing the second iteration of the PPV Notion Performance Systems course, my flagship program on implementing a powerful Life Operating System to enable you to achieve the things in life that matter most to you.
The first group implementation was incredibly exciting and feedback from participants has been overwhelming. We had 400 ambitious people go through the intensive training to bring systems thinking and organized processes into their lives — setting and moving consistently toward accomplishing their top life aspirations. 
I’ve been poring through the course reviews and feedback. The phrase “life changing” has been a recurring theme in the exit surveys. Our course director Jane and I have learned a ton from the first implementation, we’re now applying everything we can to take the program to the next level. 
If interested, you can get on the mailing list for updates here. We’re looking at about 2 months away.
With that lets dive in!
Thoughts + Reflections
Defining Your Ideal Day
I have two approaches for making each day as effective as possible:
  1. Plan each day the evening before, pulling from your well-defined Habits & Routines setup, as well as the priorities established in your Action Items (tasks) database and events calendar.
  2. Have a clearly defined “Ideal Day”. This is the daily plan that you gravitate toward unless something specific emerges to pull you off it. It’s your default daily schedule.
Before I had a well-defined Ideal Day, I was susceptible to being derailed by just about any whim. As I moved through the day, everything else looked appealing or urgent. Without an anchor, I would float off course. 
Planning the next day the evening before helped provide a path for any given day. This was a huge improvement over the rudderless days. But re-writing a schedule from scratch each day also felt untethered and was open to drift and inconsistent behavior. 
Plus, it took longer to schedule each new day from scratch than it needed to.
This all changed when I created my Ideal Day. A standard default that my day would be based on unless a clear reason to deviate presented itself (such as an inflexible meeting, appointment, or deadline). And even then, I stick to it to the degree possible with only partial alterations.
Implementing an Ideal Day
This is something you explicitly write out. It includes work and fun. Balance it however you wish, based on the priorities you have set with your personal objectives for this stage of your life.
You can change it at any time, for any reason you want. But this will be the central gravitational pull of your schedule unless a stronger outside force acts upon it.
One of the historical figures I find most fascinating is Benjamin Franklin — he pursued and accomplished so many diverse activities at such a remarkably high level of achievement: writing, politics (U.S. founding father), diplomacy, science (electricity), inventor, philosophy, and so on. He had an Ideal Day schedule, this is it… 
Benjamin Franklin's Ideal Day template
Benjamin Franklin's Ideal Day template
Franklin’s schedule had a clearly defined morning reflection and preparation period, two long uninterrupted deep work periods with a break between them, a specific reading time, an end-of-day organization and wind-down period, and an evening reflection on the day.
My Approach
And here’s my approach using Google Calendar. I prefer a bit more specificity than Ben Franklin, though having created my approach before I ever saw Franklin’s I was surprised at the similarities.
My personal Ideal Day schedule is for weekdays only, I allow myself to go free form on weekends. You can do this or have a separate one for weekends. Mine is heavily work focused on weekdays, but yours could emphasize any aspect of your life that you wish.
My Ideal Day, color coded by Habit & Routine bundles from my PPV H&R database.
My Ideal Day, color coded by Habit & Routine bundles from my PPV H&R database.
The setup incorporates all of my daily Habits & Routines in bundled clusters, so doing one makes it easier to do the rest together along with it. I am of course tracking these in my daily tracking system in the Notion PPV platform. 
Email is batched at scheduled times, turn off your notifications and go to email when you’re ready for it. If I’m waiting on something important, I’ll do extra email checks during short breaks in the Deep Work periods, but email is not driving my schedule as it does for many people.
Then the longer uninterrupted Deep Work time blocks are for implementing the listed priorities in my Notion Action Zone task database. These daily tasks are prioritized and thoughtfully lined up the evening before each day. The lineup is achievable though a reach. Anything beyond what is realistically viable is moved to another day (dragging in the Notion calendar view makes this quick and easy). 
As I line up my big priorities for the day, I determine which will go into which Deep Work time zones. The “Content Creation” zone on my schedule is a Deep Work zone as well, but to push me to create content daily I label it specifically for that type of deep work. For you, that block might be a third flexible Deep Work zone.
Real World Challenges
But be aware at the outset that the best laid plans can go off track. And as the day goes on, the likelihood of things getting derailed increases. So set your highest priorities early in the day — both in terms of habits & routines, and in terms of prioritized tasks. Do the most important first.
As the day goes on, you’re also increasingly susceptible to incoming requests from others taking over your beautifully prepared schedule. But with an Ideal Day game plan merged with your evening-before-planned-schedule, you have specific action items to compare against the unexpected incoming requests. You can now clearly evaluate which is more important. Without a clear plan in place, we’re inclined to react to whatever comes at us, responding mindlessly instead of making informed decisions.
Choosing between two specific options will lead to better decisions than comparing the incoming request to a vague, ambiguous “something else”. You’ll make smarter choices on how to spend your time, better allocating your most scarce and precious resource.
Join me on Twitter @augustbradley
Defining Your Habits & Routines
My latest video recently posted on the Notion System Design YouTube channel:
Implementing Habits & Routines in Notion Life Operating System
Implementing Habits & Routines in Notion Life Operating System
Favorite Finds
Our Online Community (Year Zero Collective)
We’d love to have you with us in the discussion — Year Zero Collective online community. Exploring topics such as Habits & Routines, Productivity, Systems Thinking, Notion, PPV and much more. Join us!
Thanks for Reading!
Thoughts and feedback on the newsletter or on anything covered within are always welcome, just hit reply.
The thing I love most about writing this newsletter is follow-up interactions with readers. My hope is this emerges into a community. So please hit me up with any thoughts, questions or ideas. I would love to hear from you.
Signing out!
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August Bradley

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