Having a friend whom you see on most days, compared to not having such a friend, had the same impact on well-being as making an extra $100,000 a year. My friends made a millionaire out of me this year. (Via Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect). This year I’ve met many interesting people I now call my friends. I’m feel like a multi-millionaire :)
David famously wrote “Life Logged” back in June. And I’ve promised to counter that concept with “Life planned”. It took me a year to fine tune my ideas. So here’s life planned vs life logged for you :)
Dave's approach to Life logged does have a bit of ad hoc organisation in it and some necessary planning. He writes in his blog:
As for my data, looking only at Desktop activities within the context of Work (includes: Email, Code, Research, Organize, Write, Todo, Misc), I can roughly divide my time into two buckets: primary work (Code, Research, Write, Todo) and support work (Organize, Email, Misc). My time is in fact split 60/40 (primary/support).
Taking all of this into account, I’ve decided I will focus the next while on improving working session effectiveness by tackling two related problems: decreasing the fire-fighting and increasing the amount of deep work. To achieve this, I will start introducing a bit more structure into my days. As explained above, without the right incentives and daily structure I am more likely to fill my days with unimportant or meaningless work.
Specifically, I will spend a bit of time every Sunday planning out and scheduling the upcoming week. I will “book” longer deep work sessions, occasional email slots, workouts, and will leave the rest open, including weekends. I want to make sure I give myself enough free space. The point is to strike the right balance between deliberate work and serendipitous tinkering. I don’t expect to get this right the first time around, but I anticipate seeing some benefits fairly quickly and will improve this exercise as I go.
My own personal break down of life looks like this:
It allows me in turn to bake all this into my calendar:
You guessed it. Life Planned means planning every single hour ahead. I’m talking about planning every hour ahead. But what about randomness, what about serendipity, what about madness. My dear :) that’s planned as well. Friday and Saturday nights (and mornings) are blank for example. Plan for ‘randomness’.
Logging your life is interesting as a form of feedback. But it’s the equivalent of being a passive observer of what’s happening. It feels like feedback for feedback’s sake. Life planned rather implies some ground work:
- Thinking of a direction in life that would make You happy
- From there, break down that direction into small steps and turn these steps into daily routines.
- Improving self-discipline and getting these small steps done
It's simple ... It took me a year to get there :)
LIFE ON AUTOPILOT
And all this sounds nice and dandy but there’s a small requirement obviously to all this jazz. Planning everything in advance means putting a life on autopilot. Auto-pilot means it’s not you piloting. Most importantly it means you have enough self-discipline to shut down the ‘other’ voice inside you that’ll try and deter your determination. You need to be good at bossing yourself around :) Steve Pavlina writes :
Self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state. […] The pinnacle of self-discipline is when you reach the point that when you make a conscious decision, it’s virtually guaranteed you’ll follow through on it.
Yes, the planned life means planning every hour ahead. More so, it means turning oneself into Pavlov’s dog. One puts consciousness out of the equation as action becomes automatic, just like a wake-up alarm (when you’re not a snoozing fanatic). Pavlina writes:
If you have to sub-vocalize any of the steps (i.e. if you hear a mental voice coaching you on what to do), you’re not there yet
Now yes, it might feel as if Life on autopilot is a double-edge sword as mindfulness is not part of the equation any more and the present self is not in the driving seat anymore but rather it's the past self, the reliable coach, the one with the initial willpower to kickstart the process that’s holding the reins. And though this isn't bad in and by itself, mindfulness is important and should be baked into the process. Hence the importance of a 'grabbing a coffee' with oneself every week and having an interview with the person you spend most time with (i.e. you). Ask her how she feels, how her diet is, how's her workload, stress and hence lifestyle like. How the plan is looking and whether she's feeling comfortable sticking to it. Feedback is gold and can also be automated.
There’s a gigantic difference between Life on autopilot and Self on autopilot. Self on autopilot means one’s lacking mindfulness and going through life unconscious of whether what he’s doing actually makes him happy. Life on autopilot is a way to be more happy. By decreasing the number of decisions one needs to take during a day, one leaves more willpower for creative moments and guarantees long term happiness.
A lot of things occur during a planned day of course and there needs to be a (planned) way to deal with un-planned things. It’s called ‘Later’. Just write it down and handle it later. You’ve seen how successful email applications such as Mailbox and Boomerang have become. It is mainly because they enable you to postpone answering unimportant emails for later rather than letting them clutter your thoughts and willpower. Decision effort is reduced to a single Watt : ‘Later’.
‘Later’ is actually so tempting as a universal hack for life. In his book ‘Time Warped’, Hammond talks about Kerkhof saying:
If you find yourself awake in the middle of night worrying, with thoughts whirling round repeatedly in your head, he has several strategies you can try. This is where imagery comes in useful again. Imagine there’s a box under your bed. This is your worry box. As soon as you spot thoughts that are worries, imagine taking those individual worries, putting them into the box and closing the lid. They are then to remain in the box under the bed until you decide to get them out again. If the worries recur, remind yourself that they are in the box and won’t be attended to until later on. An alternative is to choose a colour and then picture a cloud of that color. Put your worries into the cloud and let it swirl backwards and forwards above your head. Then watch it slowly float up and away, taking the worrying thoughts with it.
Set aside a time for worrying. Your worries relate to real and practical problems in your life, so you cannot rid yourself of them altogether, but you can learn to control when you think about them. Fyodor Dostoyevsky famously commanded his brother not to think of a white bear, and we know from the experiment on thought suppression which followed that, given that instruction, you can think of nothing but a white bear. … Likewise, telling people not to think of their worries isn’t going to work. Instead Kerkhof recommends the opposite. Set aside 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening to do nothing but worry about the future. Sit at a table, make a list of all your problems and then think about them. But as soon as the time is up you must stop worrying, and whenever those worries come back into your head remind yourself that you can’t contemplate them again until your next worry time. You have given yourself permission to postpone your worrying until the time of your choice. Remarkably, it can work. It puts you in control
Procrastination to Tivo-isation what gluttony is to hunger : A mindless alter-ego. Procrastination is postponing stuff for a reason you don’t really understand. Tivo-ing is postponing stuff for reasons you yourself have fixed priorly. In essence, there’s no such thing as urgency. It’s an absurd concept.
Look at apple and payments. It's not rushing through it. There’s no such thing as urgency. It's absurd as a concept. Do you need a contactless computer today ? Download your memories today ? Pay with your phone Today ? No. even when you know it's possible, the need is still not urgent. Your basic survival is still guaranteed. Cool off. There’s no rush.
And all this pondering eventually led led to Life OS !