Structuring the Day

by Mark Forster

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Pathway to Awesomeness.

December 5, 2006

I’ve been conscious recently that my days have become rather unstructured. The usual result of this is that work starts taking over my life and I cease to feel grounded. This time is no exception—I’m beginning to get that “all work and no play” feeling and, even worse, a feeling of guilt when I take time off from working.

So it’s time to re-establish some structure in my life. What I want to do is two things:


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December 5, 2006

I’ve been conscious recently that my days have become rather unstructured. The usual result of this is that work starts taking over my life and I cease to feel grounded. This time is no exception—I’m beginning to get that “all work and no play” feeling and, even worse, a feeling of guilt when I take time off from working.

So it’s time to re-establish some structure in my life. What I want to do is two things:

1. Schedule what I call “depth activities” (see my book Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play for more on this). There are three tried and proven depth activities which I know have a profound effect on me when I do them regularly for a prolonged period. These are journalling, walking, and meditation.

2. Cut back my working hours so they stop taking over more and more of my life.

What is needed is a simple structure, one which can be kept to easily. First, the depth activities. That’s easy. I will write in my journal immediately upon getting up in the morning. I will take the walk at noon before having lunch. And finally, I will meditate for 20 minutes at  6pm.

As for the working hours, I am going to do something which I read about recently. I can’t remember where, though it was probably one of the other time management blogs. It’s a simple idea (as all the best ideas are). I can only have my computer switched on from 9am to 6pm on weekdays. On the weekends, this is reversed and my computer has to be switched off from 9am to 6pm. Since there is hardly any work I can do without my computer, this should be an effective way of ensuring that I get a life again!

During working hours I will of course be putting the principles of Do It Tomorrow into play.

Now, whenever one tries to put a structure like this into play, there is usually one key point that the whole thing turns on. If it goes right, the rest of the day should go OK. If it goes wrong, the day will be a disaster. Focusing on this key point is the way to ensure that everything else works. In this case, the key point is the time that I get up in the morning. If I fail to get up on time, the whole day will be thrown out. If I get up on time and immediately launch into my journal, the day is off to a good start and the rest of the day will almost always go fine. So that is what I will be concentrating on.

Another important thing to remember is that one needs to identify in advance the days on which one is not going to be able to keep to the structure and give oneself permission to miss it in whole or in part. Then one doesn’t clock up a failure in one’s mind because the structure has lapsed for that day.

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