I am writing this while sitting on my sunny patio with my laptop and a cup of coffee (with a splash of Baileys). The robins are fighting over huckleberries, the bumblebees are hopping between lavender bushes, and Mochi is roasting in the sunshine.
This particular day is a good one. An ideal one, you might even say.
“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.” — Annie Dillard
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to have a good day, and how to spend my both my time and resources wisely. How do we make space for good days, even when things feel chaotic, unpredictable, or even just depressing?
That’s why I was equal parts thrilled and nervous when Khe from Rad Reads asked me if I’d be interested in doing a guest session for his community, Design The Perfect Day. I don’t know that I’ve mastered the “Perfect Day” yet (let’s be honest, perfection is a myth), but I have managed to optimize my schedule to spend it doing mostly activities that I love, including teaching, consulting, learning, and gardening.
It was a fun, conversational session where I share my philosophies on how I think about planning, how essential it is to have an anchoring vision, and how doing a daily journal in Notion has been an essential keystone habit in my productivity and effectiveness. Khe is such a gem of a human; he’s smart, kind, and really knows how to get to the root of what matters.
You can check out our conversation here:
It also got me thinking, since we’ve just finished up the first 6 months of the year, that it might be fun to go back and take a high-level look at my daily journal as part of a mid-year review. I’ve managed to fill out my journal every day for 508 days in a row! 😱That’s a lot of data and insight to work with…
Here are some of the observations and insights I’ve gleaned from the daily tracking I’ve been doing in Notion over the last 6 months:
Top 10 words
Every day I use 3 words to describe how I feel. Here are the top 10 most used words, and how many times I’ve used them this year:
Grateful – 44
Chill – 43
Anxious – 33
Excited – 32
Tired – 30
Inspired – 29
Connected – 27
Proud – 27
Happy – 25
Focused – 20
Days of the week
Tuesday is the most distracted day of the week.
Most notes + ideas are made on Wednesdays.
Thursday is the most effective day of the week (most days marked Flow and 5/5 Stars Effectiveness).
Wednesday is the least anxious day of the week.
Thursday is the most grateful day of the week (probably because we order Indian food every Thursday night… 19 times to be precise…).
Most knowledge is consumed on Thursdays + Fridays.
Friday is the most proud day of the week, as well as the most energized.
Saturday has the highest number course sales.
Sunday is the most chill day of the week.
Appeared in my Gratitude journal:
Ben (husband): 60 times
Georgia (my right-hand woman, operations support): 21 times
Weather: 9 times
11 days were spent doing intensive gardening.
160 days had a rating of 7/10 happiness or higher.
34 days experienced a state of Flow.
I “Won the Day” 66% of the time (days where I completed all of the tasks I planned to complete).
I watched 16 movies, and 18 television (Netflix) series.
I made 142 pieces of content, including:
- 5 Guest Interviews
- 2 Youtube videos
- 24 Office Hours
- 16 email newsletters
I made 251 entries in my knowledge hub, including:
- 25 online courses
- 79 articles
- 28 books or audiobooks
Alright, so what can I do with all this information?
For me, Notion has been a tool to help me pay attention to what I’m paying attention to.
- How often am I impeccable with my word?
- How often am I making the same mistakes over and over again?
- What patterns are emerging, and what elements influence one another?
The simple act of thinking through simple questions like:
- What am I grateful for today?
- What can I celebrate today?
- What could I have done better today?
- What challenged me today?
…can be very revealing. As I reflect on these questions (and others) at the end of each day, and again at the end of each week, I can take stock of what is working well and what needs to change (even if only incrementally).
The more I feed data into the system, the more insights and observations I have to work with. What I love about doing these reflections digitally is the beautiful combination of both qualitative + quantitative data in the same place.
Some of the changes I have made over time through these observations
- Switching up my no-call days
- Better and more realistic time-blocking and task-batching
- Adjusting my goals to include more physical activity (Since COVID made dodgeball, softball, and dance classes evaporate overnight…)
- More self-compassion for not always being “ON” (because the patterns are now obvious: extremely productive weeks are almost always followed by low-energy weeks)
- Building in more rejuvenating activities, both mid week and on weekends
A daily journaling habit can be a powerful way to take note of where your day-to-day activities are not lined up with your values or your bigger goals.
Over to you.
Do you have a daily journaling habit? And if so, what are some of the prompts you use to help you become more mindful and effective?
I’d love to hear; leave a comment and let me know!
P.S. If you’re struggling to get out of reactive mode and become a more planful person, you should definitely check out my course, Notion Mastery. I share my entire Notion setup, along with my own workflows, habits, and routines. Learn the tool while also becoming ridiculously productive and organized!