The following is a guest post by Amy Segreti. Amy has been an editor-in-chief, journalist, and writer for the last 15 years, in addition to a regular pursuer of passion and purpose-driven entrepreneurial ventures. She currently writes for The Huffington Post and for her website, liveallofyou.com, where she focuses on expressing her authentic self and helping others do the same.
Like many of us, I’ve tried plenty of online and offline tools for self-management. Sometimes they work for a while; sometimes they don’t get past the starting line.
Trust is huge in this space. If trust is lost early (i.e., an app doesn’t sync correctly during the first five minutes of use), it’s likely dead to us.
We’re fickle. We’re easily distracted. And we tend to want everything right now—even when it comes to our labor of loves, our passionate manifestos, and our revolutionary movements to help people. What I found I wanted most was to trust myself; to not give over my power to one system, but to learn how to trust my internal compass to direct me to how I was meant to move, shift and create in the world each day.
In an effort to create space for this to happen, I crafted my own personal day design system. They are experiments really, but experiments of the highest purpose: in finding joy and freedom in discipline. My method involves a more yin, feminine approach to productivity. It involves giving the user a new way to look at a single day—as an expansive opportunity and palate for creation.
I’d love to take you on a journey of these experiments.
Experiment 1: My Wildly Productive Day
The first time I created a system, I started with two questions:
- How do I want to feel at the end of the day?
- What can I do during that day that will yield the highest probability of feeling this way?
I wrote down what I wanted to feel:
- Connected to Source
Then, I jotted down ideas for the things I find valuable and necessary in each and every day. Things like:
- Creation (writing, and projects such as this one)
- Reading (studying language, fiction)
- Movement (exercise, yoga, hiking)
- Inspiration (ideation, conscious consuming)
- Admin/earthly (errands, email, calls)
- Nourishment (home, wandering, connecting)
And so on.
Note: “Earthly” is a nod to my fairy friends in Boulder who call things like going to the DMV “earthly tasks,” meaning the things we have to do now that we are humans on this planet and not limitless souls, Egyptian goddesses or aliens. But I digress.
Seriously, administrative tasks are necessary. Sometimes we have to fill up our tires. Sometimes we have to answer emails we don’t want to answer. These sheets aren’t an exercise in idealization—they’re a grounded, blissful, true reality. They’re our best reality.
This category is important because when we have to do terrible things like go to the post office, we don’t feel like we’re missing out on creative time. It’s an integral, intentional part of the day.
So, now we have two important elements for our day: how we want to feel at the end of it, and the things we can do during it that will provoke those feelings in us.
What can we do with them?
Experiment 2: “Today I” Sheets
I had put the answers to my first two questions in a boxy grid reminiscent of old-school ad dummies. During my print journalism days, an ad dummy was faxed over from the advertising desk to the editorial desk, dictating where the ads and content were to be in the next edition. Some editors found it restrictive (“What?! 60% ads? You’ve gotta be—”). But, I used it as my structure, my canvas—and found freedom in it.
But, as the days grew longer and hotter this year, I found my original WPD sheets too boxy, even though the structure was still based on the things I loved most. I needed something… summery. Something flowy. Something with a different starting point.
So, instead of asking how I wanted to feel at the end of the day, I found myself wondering what I wanted to create at the beginning of the day. This could be completely outside the realm of constraints I had around editing, project managing, clients, writing, etc.
I found I needed more expansion with the word “create,” so my third, important question is:
What do I want to…
This allows the answer to be extremely open-ended. It doesn’t need to fit into any category. It only needs to be a manifestation from my authentic self.
In deep summer, this honors where I am now: I wake up and immediately start playing outside (hiking, running, exploring). Then, I start to sink into my day on my balcony on a long eucalyptus wood table. And I ask myself: What’s one small legacy I want to leave today?
It could be anything. An epic blog post. A mirror decorated with New Yorker poetry. A logo for a friend’s conference. Some rockin’ paprika chicken.
I also created a space for things I wanted to clear: past commitments I’ve broken, things I need to communicate, incomplete projects, etc.
Leaving a trail of broken promises or long-held resentments clogs our energy; clearing these things within ourselves and/or with others makes space for new energy to come into our lives (in the form of opportunities, work, relationships, etc.).
If you’d like to make your own, the basic format of my “Today I” Sheet is as follows:
- What do I want to [create + divine + channel + manifest + heal] today
- …while/through/by making space for [ABC]
- …and freeing energy by clearing [XYZ]?
(Wherein [ABC] represents the activities I found absolutely integral to my day in Experiment 1, and [XYZ] represents things I need to clear.)
Essentially, I took Experiment 1 and put it inside of Experiment 2, with additional upgraded components.
After months of working with this system, I’m feeling called to make these for others. Hopefully this will give people a new way to design their days: from a deep place inside them that allows space for aligned creation, clearing blocks, and experiencing exactly what they want to feel every day.
Note from Mike: Amy is offering 5 pay-what-you-can consultations to create your ideal day design and build unique, tangible, customized productivity sheets for you. Her normal half hour session rate is $57— but she’s letting you decide what feels fair and name your own price. Email Amy to schedule a consult and let her know that Productivityist sent you!