Using the Daily Pages
3. Using the Daily Pages
A Daily Rhythm…
As Annie Dillard once said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
Each day the sun rises and sets, and whatever we have chosen to do that day lives on set in stone for eternity.
Change rarely ever comes in dramatic fashion, most change, progress and success is a combination of small things compounding on top of one another over time. This means our days are critically important.
If you want to build a full life, focusing on your days is where to start.
Getting Started - The Daily Pages
The goal is progress, not perfection. Be kind to yourself.
Preparing for Your Day
As you prepare your daily schedule, reflect on the question below:
What is the best investment of my time today?
The important is almost never urgent. It’s tempting to list out a long to-do list... But pause for a moment. Think of how you can design your schedule for full being and doing. The perfect scorecard isn’t based on checking off the most tasks, but rather the ability you have to look back at the end of the day and say with honesty, “that was a really full day.”
Once you’ve worked out the most important use of your time, fill in your daily page with your priorities, to-do list, schedule, list of gratitude, and the moment you are most looking forward to.
We recommend filling out your schedule the night before if possible. When you go to sleep, your brain will go to work figuring out the best ways to accomplish your goals. You’ll wake up focused on the most important task at hand, and you’ll experience the immense freedom that comes from knowing you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.
This nightly preparation will help you engage in the present moment and contribute at your highest level across each facet of your life.
Practice Time Blocking
One of the simplest ways to gain deeper peace and productivity is by blocking off chunks of time for your specific priorities and tasks.
Just as a monk experiences a level of freedom by knowing that at x time they are meant to be in study and at y time they are meant to be in manual labor, you will experience a level of freedom by knowing that you have blocked off time for the things that matter most in your life.
By time blocking, you will gain 2 primary benefits:
1: Time blocking helps you see whether or not your goals for the day are realistic.
The simple act of envisioning what is necessary to complete a task makes it less likely you will overbook.
A word of caution… it is easy to underestimate how long things take. For some of us, we may skew the necessary time for things by 10%, for others 50%. Almost everyone experiences this phenomenon to some degree.
As you discover your overbooking tendencies, you can be mindful of it as you plan your day.
2. Time blocking commits you to a specific course of action.
This type of commitment creates a boundary that will keep distraction out of your life.
Distractions thrive like weeds in the spaces that aren’t accounted for.
By setting out on a definitive course of action, you’ll find it easier to say no to distractions. And at the end of each day, you’ll have clarity on the areas where you fell short or surpassed expectations.
Ask Yourself, “Is This Really A Priority?”
Everyday we are tempted by countless distractions that vie for our attention and take us off course. Prioritizing forces us to choose what is most important. Remember, the important is almost never urgent.
The life of a monk teaches us that the path to a full life is more about subtracting than it is about adding. By learning to say no to distractions we are able to say yes to the most important things.
From time to time it’s worth looking at your day and asking:
Is this really the best use of my time?
Is there anything here I should say no to?
Pay Attention to Your Energy Throughout Your Day
Are you an early riser or a night owl?
Do you feel drained in the afternoon and creative in the morning?
Do certain activities or relationships give you energy or take it away?
Pay attention to how events, activities, people, and times impact your energy level and thinking.
Schedule your most important work at the time when you are likely to be the most creative and energized.
Manage your day, so you can build momentum from one activity to another. Find your rhythm.
Mind the Margin
Getting things accomplished can be addictive. It seems the more we get done the more we are tempted to put on our plates.
As you plan your schedule, think intentionally about where you will create whitespace.
There are 2 types of daily whitespace:
1: Carefree time for ourselves, family, and friends. This is the time where you are not bound by specific tasks; rather, this is time for simply resting, quieting our mind and reconnecting.
2: Time for the unexpected. It’s normal for a task to take longer than expected. Build in 2-3 thirty minute buffers throughout your day. This is a time where you can tie up loose ends of tasks, take a few minutes to reward yourself for a job well done, or simply transition to the next activity.
A mind that thinks clearly is the greatest productivity tool, and clarity is only possible with whitespace. There is reason why the life of a monk features time for solitude and silence.
Beyond daily whitespace, there are larger periods of whitespace that will occur throughout life.
When unexpected life events happen, whether it’s a great surprise or a solemn occasion, be comfortable with unscheduled time during these events.
It is often during these unexpected life events when we have an opportunity to quiet our mind and grow the most.
Pay Attention to What is Working
As you use the Monk Manual, pay attention to what is working well for you and what isn’t.
Adjust your daily routine and approach to the Monk Manual to fit wherever you currently are in life.
There is no “wrong way” to fill in your pages. That said, here are some step-by-step instructions for filling in your daily pages.
We recommend having your Monk Manual in hand as you follow along the steps.
Daily Pages: How to Prepare
PRO TIP: Prepare for your day the night before. You can prepare right after you reflect each night.
Step 1: Denote the date of the day in the top left corner
Example: Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Step 2: Write your habit for the month in the top right corner of the left page
Example: Use the Monk Manual at 8pm
Step 3: Write your theme (this can be the same as your monthly theme)
Example: Staying Calm Under Pressure
Step 4: List your 3 top priorities of the day
Example: “Spend time with John” or “Finish December report”
Step 5: List your routine to-do’s for the day
Example: “Meditate” and “Workout” and “Respond to 10 Emails”
Step 6: Fill in your schedule with your top priorities and to-do’s
Example: Write in “meditate” at 6am, “workout” at 7am, “priority 1” at 9am
Step 7: List 3 things you’re grateful for
Example: warm coffee, Ryan, and opportunities at work
Step 8: Write the event(s) you’re looking forward to most
Example: “going to bed early tonight” or “finishing the x,y,z project”
Step 9: Think of how you can give to those around you today
Example: “be patient with the kids” or “donate to a charity”
Refer back to your Monk Manual throughout the day and check off your priority/to-do list as you accomplish each task.
Daily Pages: How to Reflect
PRO TIP: Do this at the same time each night
Step 1: If you successfully accomplished your monthly habit, check it off in the top of the left page
Step 2: List your highlights of the day (don’t overthink this)
Example: “reconnected with my old friend, Erin” or “signed Company ABC as a new client”
Step 3: Reflect on times you were at your best during the day
Example: helping Michael with his homework
Step 4: Reflect on the times your felt unrest throughout the day
Example: when I needed to re-write the report an hour before the deadline
Step 5: Think of 1 simple way you can improve tomorrow
Example: staying calm when things don’t go exactly as I planned them
Inside the Pages
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