For the past several weeks, I’ve been experimenting with theming days. I first learned about the practice while following the Seattle Seahawks and hearing about days like “Competition Wednesday”, “Review Saturday”, and “No Repeat Friday” (where players strive to make sure they don’t have to practice anything twice – read more about the practices). Longtime readers know that I’ve been a Pete Carroll fan for a while, and this has been one of the most practical things I’ve learned from Coach Pete.
As I’ve brought the idea of themed days into my life, I can name several reasons why I’ve come to love them:
- Focus: let’s face it – there’s more than one thing that’s important in life. Whether it’s family, work, chores, hobbies, or learning, most everyone has a few things going on simultaneously. Having themed days makes sure that you spend at least 14% of your time focused on the areas that you want to get better in.
- Defining Success: what makes a day successful? For me, it’s when I get a lot done. Having themed days, though, lets me derive joy from improving on the other aspects of my life, including writing, relationships, and managing my team.
- Easy to Remember: everyone knows that they’re supposed to balance work, life, fitness, spirituality, and all of that good stuff, but it’s hard to follow through. In contrast, it’s so easy to remember to make themed days happen. If habits need regularity to be formed, and they probably do, themed days provide a weekly rhythm that allows change to occur.
Not convinced yet? Let me share about each of the days that I’ve instituted, and why I appreciate each of them.
I’ll start with my favorite. Analog Sunday has the following guidelines:
- No Internet
- No email or SMS (phone calls are ok)
- Spend some time journalling
The goal of this day, as you can probably guess, is to clear my head of distractions, rest, and take stock of how things are going. I don’t know about you guys, but if I don’t force myself to journal, I pretty much never do. Plus, CNN seems to think it’s pretty helpful to have a “stop day” to stay sane.
As someone who manages a team, and is responsible for their success, I’ve learned that meetings are important. As someone who still has a lot of coding responsibilities, and has been a software engineer all of my professional life, I still dislike meetings and think they’re the devil. (If this resonates with you, Paul Graham has a great essay on this dichotomy). My solution is to try to pile all meetings onto a single day – Monday. It saves the rest of my week to be productive, while on Mondays, I define success by the number and quality of my meetings. It’s been really helpful.
I’m still experimenting with this, but the idea behind this day is to work on projects that you find personally fun, nurture the joy of the creative process, and try some things that may not always be at the top of the queue. For you programmers, that means try to fix your high priority bugs Tuesday through Thursday
Yes, I need some structure to make sure that I don’t stay in a cave all week. I blame the startup life.
So far (three weeks), it’s been a lot of fun to engage in these days, and I hope they become a long-term part of my life. What do you think? What are some themed days that would be helpful for you?