The Deck Chair Diaries Part 5

A day in the life…

A lot of people ask me what I get up to on a day to day basis, so I thought I would give you a timetable of my “ideal idle day”. I admit, things don’t always work out this well, but I try and use for this template. You may be surprised by how many hours “work” I actually do. This is partially because the current times require it and partially because I enjoy it! (as Confucius once said “Choose a job you love and you will have to work again”). I am always looking at reducing the amount of hours I work, ideally I would like to work like mad before lunch and take a more leisurely approach to the afternoons, but I don’t ever seem to have got this sorted and still tend to work longer hours than I would really like.

I wake up early nowadays, around 6 o’clock, I was never very good at getting up early and for most of my teens and twenties I would lie in for as long as possible and drag myself out of bed, under umbrage, at the very last minute. As I have gotten older, I have found it easier (and more enjoyable) to wake up early.

I have cup of tea and then walk the dogs. I use the walk as a time to be mindful and contemplate the day ahead.

After breakfast I will check my emails and write a short list of my three most important tasks (MIT’s), and any important chores and emails I need to do that day (I used to scrawl these on reams of A4 paper, but now I use the beautiful and brilliant moleskine notebooks – which also has an iphone app for when I can’t get to my notebook!) . Then I will meditate for 25 minutes or so. I know many meditation guides will tell you to sit when you very first wake up, but I am not very good first thing in the morning, my mind is often spinning and having two energetic dogs, once I am awake they are pestering to go out. Not the best atmosphere to sit in! I find once I have walked, had breakfast and and sorted out my day, then I can sit undisturbed and get the best out of my practice.

I will do an hour or so of work. I work very intuitively. I know many productivity guides tell you to work on your Most Important Tasks first. That doesn’t really suit me and I will do what seems most appropriate at the time, whether that is clearing my emails, writing some stuff or doing some admin. If I have to pop out I will normally do this now and  get it out of the way.

Around mid morning I will usually do some exercise, whether that is some bodyweight work, a run, Tai Chi or Yoga etc. I don’t really have a work out plan and again work intuitively about what I am in the mood to do. I keep detailed records, so I know how I am getting on and will check back before I start, which will often help me decide what to do. I enjoy exercise, I use it as a form of mindfulness or contemplation and find that, in the longer term, it give me more energy and makes me feel more alive.

Then it is snack time before I return to work until lunch. In the afternoon, depending on how I have gotten on, I will maybe read, research or sort notes for longer term projects or do some chores around the house. Around mid afternoon I walk the dogs again, then it is downhill until the end of the “working” day…

After spending years working every hour of the day and weekend, I make the effort to finish work no later than 5 o’clock. I usually wrap up before then and then sit again for 25 minutes. I do a variety of different meditations from a variety of different styles, but most often than not I will do a simple mindfulness exercise, counting my breaths (for more details see my eGuide to meditation here).

Days don’t always pan out this way!  Things will often crop up that interrupt this timetable and some days my day won’t resemble this at all. When I am away training, or I have clients, or teaching Tai Chi I usually just make things up as I go along, squeezing in meditation, exercise and reading where I can. I find, although a timetable works very well for me when I am at home with nothing booked in, when I am away working, I have to just be intuitive and do what I can when the opportunity arises.

Matt