If you could have your ideal day, what would it look like? Jason Womack, an author, motivational speaker, and productivity expect, asked me to answer this question for his new site http://shareyouridealday.com. Here we go …
It’s easy to think that if you had an ideal day, it might occur in an exotic location — on vacation in Maui — or in an unusual, once-in-a-lifetime situation — like scoring the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. My ideal day starts in a more mundane way, with the routine of waking up after a satisfying sleep.
On my ideal day,
it would be great to have coffee already brewing, a great breakfast made and a smiling hello from my wife, and a couple of bright-eyed and bushy tailed kids waiting to walk to the bus stop. In truth, this happens on most of my days (though on my ideal day, it would definitely be sunny and 65 in the morning, like Seattle in the late summer when the days last close to 16 hours and have a wonderful, luminous beauty.)
The first thing that I would do is spend about twenty minutes responding to any urgent or immediate needs that had appeared overnight. Then, I’d check or add to my list of the top things that need to get done on that day (I try to keep no more than five items on this list), take my dogs and go for a walk.
Walking often produces my best ideas, and a walk of about an hour would make a great addition to my ideal day. When I walk, I make sure to record any ideas that pop up and I like to take a few photos that capture the essence of the day. On a great day, that might result in three or four photos I might like to share with friends.
When I returned home, I’d like to spend about 90 minutes in very focused attention to items on my most important list – taking a 3-4 minute break every 30 minutes or so – and making progress against those goals. During my break I might send an introductory email to a friend or compose quick replies to any emergency issues. I’d do these tasks standing for the most part, though I might take a momentary break to sit.
An important part of any ideal day would include a sit-down lunch with my wife. Making the lunch for her using locally sourced ingredients would be even better, but I’d start with making sure that she didn’t have to make lunch. We’d use this time to really talk and not just be tactical about the needs and wants of running a family.
This conversation would lead into about 60 minutes of making follow up phone calls – these could take the form of a short 10 minute “hi, how are you” to an hour-long strategy session for a startup seeking to improve their process of finding, engaging with, and keeping customers.
And after a short break, I’d again return to my Most Important Tasks list. For me, it works better to complete one at a time. Again, it’d make sure to take a few breaks during the afternoon to answer urgent and important emails or to have a quick Skype conversation to resolve any blockers. An alternate way to get really engaged that I enjoy is a 1:1 or small group meeting over coffee or a whiteboard – and hey, that can happen anywhere.
The ideal day would also include a trip into the city to see a sporting event, go to a play, or have a dinner with friends (and it would be really nice if someone else drove). What would make the ideal day complete? Learning something new, finding out about the opportunity of a new project, or just saying hello to an old friend. Finally, it wouldn’t be an ideal day without telling my family how much I care about them.
What’s in your ideal day?