Designing my perfect day

Recently a friend mentioned their goal of aiming to create perfect days. Not an indulgence-filled last day on earth (we’d eat too much cake!), but a repeatable, enjoyable, productive day that moves a life forward. A typical Tuesday.

Like Annie Dillard says,

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.

I started thinking about netting my perfect day. I’ve considered general items before, but never pondered it and written things down. 

These perfect days of course change I’m traveling. However, for this time in my life when I’m home, here’s what mine looks like. Blocking out calendar times makes me feel like a robot, so I think of my day as malleable morning, midday, and evening chunks to be used in a more free-form fashion.

My Perfect Day

Starting with my energy turned inward with learning and creativity:

  • Morning reading with a cup of tea, a fruit plate, and listening to piano music.
  • Piano practice
  • Writing, either stream of consciousness or a blog post/newsletter
  • Anki study for Italian, Spanish, music theory, and other things I’m learning (here’s my how-to for setting it up)

Shifting my focus outward later in the day:

  • Connection with Chelsea, friends, and family
  • Exercise, ideally outside
  • Reading my favorite newsletters
  • Handling work
  • Moving one “adulting” thing forward
  • Cooking healthy food

An evening wind down:

  • More piano
  • A walk with Chelsea
  • Evening drawing session with tea and piano music
  • In bed early to read, ideally some fiction

Overall, I’m striving for what Ryan Holiday says in Stillness Is The Key,

The truth is that a good routine is not only a source of great comfort and stability, it’s the platform from which stimulating and fulfilling work is possible. Routine, done for long enough and done sincerely enough, becomes more than routine. It becomes ritual—it becomes sanctified and holy.

What a goal! Ritual, every day that we can. Yes please.

Is it still groundhog day if you’re having a ton of fun?

Things I’ve noticed about my perfect day

After aiming for a perfect day for awhile, I’ve stumbled upon some preferences:

  • Painting an exact picture of the activity (“reading while enjoying a fruit plate”) makes it even more desirable than just “reading.”
  • Days where I don’t look at my phone for the first few hours usually feel more satisfying.
  • Having non-negotiable practices anchors my day. For me right now, that’s piano and Italian study: no matter what derails me, accomplishing those makes my day feel successful.
  • I meditated daily for awhile. Lately, it hasn’t felt necessary or valuable, so I dropped it (probably to my detriment). However, the mental state I get into with piano centers me in a powerful way, so I’m going with it! (I realize they accomplish different things…my Buddhist mom is rolling her eyes at this paragraph for suuuure.)
  • At this moment in my life, I don’t feel drawn to passive entertainment like T.V., movies or social media. With so much I want to study and learn, those things make me feel like I’m wasting my time. I’ve enjoyed them to some degree in the past, but right now they aren’t in line with how I want to spend my time.
  • I’m doing things (I think) my future self will thank me for. That they also happen to be activities I’m really enjoying is probably a function of doing them because I want to, not because I feel like I SHOULD..
  • I’ve dropped activities where my obsessive, competitive side surfaces like a deranged Leviathan from the deep. (Cough, chess…)

What about your perfect day?

Can you design yours? Not an ideal Saturday or beach day in Hawaii, but a normal weekday.

Is it possible to start with things you want to do before adulting swamps all efforts to pursue creativity, exercise, learning or whatever else floats your boat?

Things to consider:

  • What one or two things make any day successful?
  • Can you nudge one thing forward each day?
  • Is there an energy flow that works best for you? (e.g. I like to spend mornings alone)

Have fun dreaming! Here’s to perfect days, or as close as we can realistically get to them.

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