Win the Day, Welcome the Chaos
Today does not have to repeat the ongoing chaos you dealt with yesterday. I advise that you accommodate chaos while allowing control over the flow of your moments. If you are going to strive, you have to dig into how you can best utilize the moments within your days. Here I give you an action plan on how to plan for a day you can win.
Welp, the world is falling apart.
I know how disheartening that may sound coming from a mental health professional. However, a consistent feature of the last few years have been unpredictability, uncomfortability and general chaos of day to day affairs.
I believe the most therapeutic approach would be to not shy away from the chaos, instead, work to accommodate it while allowing more control within your daily agenda.
This advice I give to you, I am also desperately practicing myself. I have personally noticed that since 2020, I haven’t just gotten through my days, I feel like I must survive them. I work three jobs every week all of which are heavy emotionally. There are often unplanned challenges (chaos) coming at me from every direction. Whether I end the day feeling fulfilled or destroyed usually comes down to how I respond to small moments within my day. Therefore If I am going to strive, I have to dig into how I can best utilize the moments within my days.
There are 3 steps I use to plan for chaotic moments and create resistant days.
Step 1: Separate your day into the moments. (You have no control over time)
Step 2: Identify the objectives for each moment. (Resiliency > Productivity)
Step 3: Write out the instructions for your objective (Follow your mood)
I can send you a free template to follow along and complete your own plan (Which also includes a copy of my personal plan on sheet #2).
Lets now dive deeper into how these steps can help support your journey to creating chaotic resistant days!
Step 1. Separate your day into moments
- Identify the blocks of hours/minutes that naturally segment your day. (Hint: there are often transitional events that begin and end these moments)
A reminder: You have no control over time. Your plans are not promised.
“We treat our plans as though they are a lasso, thrown from the present around the future, in order to bring it under our command. But all a plan is—all it could ever possibly be—is a present-moment statement of intent. - Oliver Burkeman
Our plans are always at risk of being foiled by an unexpected emergency. Things can always change. The amount of hours in a day, however, is an absolute variable that will keep moving forward with or without your effort. In order to create a sense of control, it is important that you discard your notion of an hourly agenda for now. Resist the pressure of conquering each moment in your day. The point of this step is not maximum productivity, it is the acceptance of the natural flow of an average day.
In the next step, you will notice that your focus will not be focused on the best utilization of the hours in your day but by focusing on objectives you want to achieve within those moments. This furthers your effort to put less into managing our hours and more focus into managing your moments. With that, you will have the agility to still touch your objectives even if a 3 hour window is reduced to 15 minutes due to an unforeseen circumstance.
Step 2. Identify the objectives for each moment.
- What version of you in each moment is the most authentic version of you?
For example: My mornings often start with me worrying about my agenda, meetings, todo tasks, etc. My most authentic self would be able to ride the waves of how I feel, notice the anxiety and take actions like working out, journaling to better calm my mood. Instead of being consumed by my worry, I would eat my anxiety and move forward on the right foot.
Remember this: Resiliency > Productivity
Productivity is an outcome that we sometimes mistake as a method of work. Productivity should be measured after the work is done. Planning to have a productive day is no plan at all, only a statement of hope that a desired outcome arrives.
Resilience, however, is a forethought. It takes into account how one proactively applies effort to strive and not succumb to chaos. In Maya Angelou’s book, A Letter to My Daughter, she best captures this sentiment of resilience in her statement, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
Within this understanding of resilience, we are not working to avoid the chaos but we are trying to integrate responses that ensure we grow despite the challenges. Resilient practices allow you to surf the waves of our days as opposed to being beat down by them.
In a cursory review of Resilience Studies, three factors show up over and over again
- Hope- grounding yourself in a sense of permanency. (I am ok, I will be ok)
- People- impacting and being impacted by interpersonal relationships
- Story- owning, feeling, reflecting on and move forward within the unexpected moments
As you design your objectives try to ensure they intersect with at least one of these concepts in some way.
Step 3. Write out the instructions for your objective
Remember: Follow indicators from your mood
States of mind are a better guide to modern work than values (which don’t always motivate), goals (which often change), and processes (which try to prescribe the unprescribable) precisely because moods are the only things that change just as fast as the world around us. - Tiago Forte
Your mood and energy allows micro indicators that can attune you to your needs at that moment. If we plan alongside our mood we can more efficiently assign your attention to tasks with the most momentum to get done.
By the way, I created a tool to allow you to assess your mindset to direct the best tasks to fit your mood. Use this when you are feeling lost throughout the day: https://edvardoarcher.typeform.com/s/moodfirst
In planning for our day, a good starting place is understanding how your energy flows throughout the day. Circadian rhythms is a good place to start. Circadian Rhythms basically notes that humans have a well-defined internal clock that shapes our energy levels throughout the day. For example, on average, we get a kick of energy when we wake up, it mellows out around 3pm then we get a second peak around 6pm. This varies depending on the person and their natural sleep cycle but there are patterns.
As you write your instructions, expect that you will have high points and dips in your energy throughout the day. Keeping a diary that notes when you feel the most energized or sluggish can be helpful for learning your rhythm. Ensure your instructions match your patterns; be bold during your high energy moments and more compassionate with yourself during energy dips .
The point of this entire effort is to target actions that allow us to strive and honor our process NOT to pursue productivity that tries to get as much done as possible.
Planning the day then planning the year.
This practice of preparing for chaos resistant days is a part of my annual process for preparing for the year ahead. In my process, I consider the following in order:
Feelings Review -> Prep my day -> Prep my week -> Annual Review
- Feelings Review -> Here I review the data I've collected over the year on the changes in my mindset throughout the year. I've been able to compile this information using: https://edvardoarcher.typeform.com/s/moodfirst
- Prep my day -> I review the flow of my days and draw out a game plan on how I will approach my days in the new year (covered here)
- Prep my week -> I look at how I approach my month and intentionally write out a daily plan on how I will approach my weeks to maximize my time
- Annual Review -> I dream big about the 2 or 3 things I want to see this year and revisit my bucket list of items to do before I die
I can also share thoughts on planning for the week and how that leads to annual goals and objectives. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter to get some quick tips on these ideas.