Any darn fool can make a day more complicated than it has to be; it takes a touch of genius to make it simple again.
PLEASE NOTE: This post has been updated with new information and republished here:
How to Make Life Simple Again
Photo by: The 10 Cent Designer
Fay Daliva says
My ‘perfect day’ looks and feels like:
– fresh morning coffee
– a long, brisk walk in the park with my dog
– a couple hours of focused writing
– a couple hours of focused business-related work
– relaxation time in the evening, perhaps spent reading
– a good night’s rest (8 hours)
Marc Chernoff says
You and I have a lot in common. 😉
Lisa Smith says
Perfect Day for moi.. 🙂
~Early morning walk/jog with the pooch on a beach
~5 minutes of coffee watching the sunrise from my balcony while I read Marc/Angel blog
~A 3-4 solid hours of work time
~Healthy lunch/walk the pooch again
~Some personal time – reading, painting something…learning something – might find a good sunset to gaze at
~Wind down with a night walk for a good nights rest
THANK YOU YET AGAIN.
Marc Chernoff says
Thanks for the continued support, J.J..
And yes, that’s one of my favorite quotes.
My perfect day is spent with a 4-mile morning run, a focused and productive time block (6-8 hours) working on my business, and a quality late-afternoon/evening with my husband and daughters. Sure there are other details, but that’s the basis of it.
Thanks for another great read!
Alyssa @ Sweetly Tattered says
Hmmm…my perfect day. It would definitely start with coffee and a hot breakfast. My husband would have the day off so we would slowly get ready then take our daughters on a hike. We would stop by a farmers market for some fresh veggies to grill. Then end the night with some smores over the fire. Hmm…sounds like a good day. 🙂
Sid Sward says
Good stuff. Was it Thoreau who said: “The World is too much with us – Simplify, Simplify”
If I can make one person happy (for the moment and hopefully for longer than that) than my day has been MADE! If it takes a corny joke,a spur of the moment witticism, playing my Accordion (which I have done for 66 years) or just being jovial and looking right into a person;s eyes thus making that important connection, I will be happy. It has been rightly stated:”Don’t try to be happy. It is like trying to go to sleep – the more you try the harder it is to sleep. Just let it happen.” As the song title suggests Let It Be.
I noticed how many above used the word “perfect ” to describe that day instead of the word “simple” as you suggested … I prefer basing my vision on simple- I appreciated the suggestions you gave – Especially about outlining the tasks – I try to do that every day – I also like your idea for “batching” the smaller tasks – very helpful.
As far as what I see as a simple day, it always starts with meditation and prayer and then exercise for about 20 minutes. Sometimes I must do the exercise later however but the quiet time always comes first and if I don’t do that part first it seems to negatively affect my day.
I am often overwhelmed by the many tasks I must accomplish – the most important tool is the attitude I am holding underneath all the ‘busy-ness ‘. If it is anxious and rushed and hurried – it doesn’t matter how organized I am – I must be conscious of my thoughts and discipline myself to do exactly as you also suggested “one thing at a time” and “take space between each task” ….The quality of thoughts beneath the actions sets the tone for everything else – being mindful is a practice I must keep at the top of my “to-do” list.
Thank you for this very helpful and practical guide today.
Marc Chernoff says
You’re welcome, Karen. I love your sentiment.
Trish L. Stultz says
My perfect day starts with quiet time focusing on my awareness of being present within myself. Gratitude & appreciation to begin a new day. Being able to make choices & respond to situations as healthy & joyful as I am able.
My simply perfect day is: sleep late, breakfast in bed whilst reading the newspaper. Get up, shower, dress etc. go for a nice bike ride with my husband followed by late lunch & good conversation in town. In the early evening do a spot of reading, have a nice dinner over a glass of good wine. Watch a great movie and turn in before midnight.
my perfect day (if not raining) is to spend it in our beautiful garden – gardening. I love being creative and in the winter months painting and a bit of skiing on the nice days. The simpler the day the better. Church on Sunday’s to bless all the wonderful things around us to be so thankful for.
I had a mild heart attack on Friday morning. Got out of the hospital last night. And saw this this morning. Seems like I am receiving very specific suggestions and help from the universe these days. And that is wonderful as apparently I have not been paying close attention for quite some time. Thank you.
Marc Chernoff says
I’m happy to hear you’re OK. Sending prayers of strength your way, Lynn.
I’ve been a long-time reader, but this is my first comment. This particular subject is something I have struggled with, and still do as new priorities take the place of old ones. For me, a perfect day STARTS like this:
– Wake up with plenty of time to have a relaxed and not rushed morning
– Breakfast a half hour after I wake up
– Make walking or some other form of exercise a priority and do it early in the day so I won’t stress about it later.
– Go to work and do what needs to be done, one thing at a time. Don’t let other people’s stresses become MY stresses. I have enough of those on my own. I enjoy my job and the people I work with, but sometimes they do get over-wound. I try not to let that be me.
– Spend time with my son and my husband, even if we’re not doing anything, face-time and talking-time is important.
– Go to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep before the next day starts the cycle again.
Doing these things consciously has made a huge difference in how I feel about my life!
Marc Chernoff says
Excellent list, Sayre. I can relate to it in many ways.
My perfect – and SIMPLE – day runs thus:
* stretching before I get out of bed
* morning prayer
* a healthy breakfast, eaten in a leisurely manner
* an 8-hour work day doing tech support
* a lunch break during which I WALK AWAY from the computer for a half-hour
* poweringDOWN at – or very close to – 5 PM
* a healthy dinner with TootsMySpouse
* an evening spent doing things of my own choosing
* take time to outline a casual plan for tomorrow
* a reasonable bedtime
My simple day start with my coffee.
Listening to music i posted on my facebook page.
walking my puppy coco puffs.
then checking my email.
doing stuff i need to do errands.
a nite meditation
Your #1 “know what your perfect day looks and feels like” is the key for me. If I can see it/feel it, there is a strong likelihood it will happen that way. Thanks for these great reminders!
Akram Alashari says
Great post! I especially like the part about cultivating gratitude. It creates a feeling of abundance in our lives!
Luna Darcy says
Hi Marc and Angel,
What resonated most to me is the part about gratitude. I believe grateful people are happy people. If we learn to be grateful even for the littlest things in life, life can be so much simpler and happier.
Great article. This reminds me of a saying from India “we have gone from human beings to human doings”! We are always doing something or feel guilty that we are not doing/accomplishing something. That’s true for most of us, not all of us. I like the simple suggestions for a simple day/life. Thank you for these insightful articles.
Katherine Swarts says
My perfect day includes plenty of relaxing free reading time, making meaningful contact with five potential new clients, at least one major task that is money-earning AND personally interesting.
Augustus Lu says
Simplicity is only there when you know what you want. It’s what appears when you really focus on your goal.
My perfect day is –
– Wake up
– Pray & read the bible
– Being able to produce something that helps people
– Volunteer for something that can help the next generation like leadership or after school programs
I would feel free, accomplished, and used up.
Joel Almeida says
Excellent as always.
Pat Sweeney says
I have just read this day’s message for the fourth time. I plan on a few more, plus noting it on my Facebook page. Thanks.
I guess this is why I am discontent. I most definitely do not have simple or perfect in any sense of the words.
I am struggling just to make it to work at a job I hate but need right now as my husband’s job has cut hours.
so, up at 5 with coffee, out the door at 6:15, at work at 7, work until 4 with a wasted hour for lunch that I spend doing homework, then an hour commute home, grab a bite, to school at 7, home at 10, shower, in bed at 11, up and repeat again, 5 days per week, except a couple nights I don’t have school so – come home, clean house, do laundry, cook, you know, do all the house-wifely things.
I don’t see my husband during the week except maybe from 10:30-11 at night but he stays up until 12 or 1 am.
Yeah, not sustainable and makes me a cranky witch.
I’m working on changing that but I am not sure what I should be looking to change it toward. That’s why I’m in school…
So for those of you that have figured out How and What, congratulations. I do look up to you and it is inspiring to me to know that there are folks out there that have figured it out. I admire you.
Sharyn L. says
I couldn’t help but notice your posting as I used to have a similar schedule. Just a suggestion. Since your husband’s hours at work have been cut and you are struggling to make up for this at work and going to school, get him to help out doing the cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and cooking.
I’ve had a have a similar schedule and one like yours more recently. I agree with Sharyn’s comment that you’ll want to get your husband to help with more of the “house-wifely” things. Admittedly, I’ve had to lovingly (and sometimes not so lovingly) “train” my husband to do these things in order to help my schedule out. It’s taken time, but he’s got it down. 🙂
Also, the time that you are in school should be thought of as your personal time, in a sense. Hopefully, you are pursuing a course that you are excited about, looking forward to etc. The chance to go to school, learn something new, putting down foundation for your future is stuff to be grateful for. It’s about you and your desires and that’s really cool.
With a schedule such as yours, prayer/meditation/centering is really important. Whenever you can sneak the time to do that, on a regular basis, even if it’s 10 minutes it’s important. If you go about your day with presence of being, attitude of gratitude you’ll feel way less “spent”. Pace yourself throughout your day so you’ll have energy and not be that “cranky witch”. Been there, too.
I commend you for your courage, the responsibility you’re taking, and the leadership your showing in doing what you’re doing.
My perfect day involves a run, time with family and time with myself. Sometimes my me time is wrapped up into my run time but I feel it is better to have the two sessions separate. this helps me to address my physical and emotional needs. And it is always a good day if you can identify a time when you have helped someone. Thank you for your blogs, they are a lovely read and a great reminder. They are something I take time out of my work day to read, to bring me back to reality of what we should be aiming to achieve.
Rachel Ang says
This is such a great read!
Heather Bleier says
– Wake up refreshed before everyone else
– Begin with fresh coffee and time in my Bible
– Make a world class breakfast for my hubby and daughter
– After breakfast we spend the rest of the day together doing whatever we want! Go to the park, paint a picture, swim, veg, and whatever else we think of.
– Our daughter would go to bed on time and without a fuss
– My hubby and I get to spend the final hours of evening together before heading to bed.
Marc Chernoff says
Love this, Heather! 🙂
My perfectly simple day would be something like this, assuming it’s a work day:
Up at 9 or 10am knowing I don’t have to rush to be anywhere on time
Coffee and light, quick breakfast, while watching the news, at least an hour.
Mentally planning what MUST get done that day, reduce to list or lists for work and home
Feed and play a bit with the animals
Leisurely dress, put on makeup, drive to work, without a fixed schedule
Interact with a few co-workers for a few minutes about non-business items. Best is if we have a good laugh or story.
Shut my door in a real office, no cubes. Answer phone messages. Go through biz emails and mark what must get done. Adjust list.
Answer phone calls.
Turn off email, phones, put Do Not Disturb Please sign on door.
Focus on 3-4 Must Do tasks. Do one easy one first, then harder after warming up. Breaks in between…restroom, quick chat with co-worker, back to office.
Sit and stretch, breathe. Check biz email once.
Finish all planned tasks and take full hour lunch in car or away from people. Personal email, phone calls, fb maybe. Or just read or people watch. Daydream, meditate/pray, breathe. Back to work.
Follow morning schedule, maybe with open door for part of time.
Do a few necessary, easy tasks. Leave work on time.
Eat simple meal hubby prepared, order out, or make quick healthy meal…salad, yogurt, fruit, while chatting with hubby. Maybe watch tv show together. HBO series, Law and Order. He goes to bed early due to early work schedule.
My time! First do house paperwork, pay bills, grocery list, etc. Then read, read, read. Check personal email, fb…1 hour max. Read on line self help, project info like DIY, check kids Instagram. Watch some fun, mindless sit coms, nothing upsetting or violent. Go to bed, review positives of the day and gratitude, read a few pages, sleep at least 8 hrs.
But Marc, have you worked in the real biz world? My days were nothing like this. Bosses and clients expect immediate answers. Constant interruption, sign on door or not. Subordinate questions and help needed to move projects forward. Unplanned meetings or conference calls. A lot of quick, unhealthy meals at desk. No real break most days…maybe breathe and stretch a bit. Get back to projects that should have been done in the morning. Client crisis…drop everything. Turn around and realize it’s 5pm, and you’ve finished 2 of 5 projects, and at least one more must be done. Due tomorrow. Wind up staying late to finish. Leave tired, stressed after 12 hr day. Wearily drive home getting fast food for dinner. Often hubby in bed. Eat in front of tv, exhausted, worrying about work, life, etc. Hating your job, but needing the money. Thinking about what other job you could do at same salary. Skipping bill paying, etc. Too tired to deal with animals. Fall into fitful sleep, knowing you have to get up and do it again tomorrow! In a service-oriented, client/customer focused job, you have no choice but to respond quickly, blowing your plan for the day by 9am. Bosses expect this, and instant responses from you, switching gears on a moments notice. The real work gets done on YOUR time, oh! I forgot bringing home work that has to be done. You are under constant stress, dealing with unreasonable amounts of work. Subordinates are stressed. You make decent money, and if you’ve climbed the ladder in this profession, your options for a different job are limited if you need your income. Eventually, you burn out. Or you have physical or mental issues, but you keep plugging away. Most people don’t have the options you’re talking about. My breaks were bathroom runs, and sometimes I’d wait so long to go I was ready to burst. The company doesn’t care. If you’re lucky you have a sym pathetic boss, but he/she can’t change things. And when you have children, add day care runs (even split with hubby), homework, sports or other activities and some precious play time, then night rituals with them…bathing, getting ready for the next day. You are utterly spent and sometimes irritable and quick tempered with the kids.
I lived this life for over 20 yrs. I became a consultant to be home with my kids, but still very stressful. I did some work during the day, but took time to be with them, drive to games or practice, etc and wound up working late at night. Then I started my days exhausted afain, scrambling to get everything done. I was swamped even when I did say no to some work projects. In summer when the kids were in middle school, they’d interrupt even when I told them I needed two hrs of uninterrupted time.
Then the economy crashed and consultants were let go. I tried to go back to the office, but two different companies had people doing the work of two employees before the crash, and lots of nasty work environments. I just couldn’t do it. Now I’m home, we are broke, I’m depressed and can’t leave my couch. We have downsized, given up vacations and other “luxuries”. We had emergency money set aside. Gone. 401k money gone for kids college. I am in counseling, and trying to get back to work, but I know I can’t go back to old profession. And I’m not young any more, so jobs are limited. Luckily my hubby has a pension, but we are just getting by. I know many people in our situation. This is reality. I know we made mistakes, but we both worked so hard with nothing to show for it, except great, educated kids.
Marc Chernoff says
Cindy, yes I have worked in extremely hectic work environments (private sector consulting start-ups), and I gradually made small daily changes to free myself of the chaos. The key is tiny steps that take you from where you are to the points/milestones I discuss in this post, and in this one.
Great article! I found it because my husband sent me a link to your “40 things I want to tell my child before they’re too cool to listen”, which I really loved, and I’ve read a few more of your posts this morning too. Your blog is fantastic. Coincidentally, I’ve come across various different versions of the “imagine your perfect day” exercise in the last few days, so I should stop procrastinating now and actually do the exercise! My perfect day involves taking a leisurely breakfast (lunch/dinner) with my hubby and our kids, going for walks (or bike rides) in nature, playing tennis, reading, writing, yoga, swimming and meditation. I try most days to fit in a number of these things, but some of them end up falling by the wayside when life gets in the way. It’s always good to keep the ideal in mind though. Thanks for the nudge! 🙂
Great post! It really made me think. My perfect day would start off with…
–Getting up early while my family is still sleeping. It allows me to have quite time to pray, meditate and set my focus for my day and just “be”.
–A great cup of coffee
–A 20 min walk
–Breakfast with my husband and kids
–Morning mass at church
–Time to scrapbook, read, write or garden.
–Spend time playing with my kiddos
–Cooking a delicious dinner for my family and enjoying it together
–Reading with my kids before they go to bed
–Having quite time to talk with my husband
–Alone time to read, journal and reflect on my day
BREAKFAST: yogurt-fruit parfait
READ: math/physics (1 chp/book)
CALCULUS: study a section
READ: engineering (1 chp)
All the above are usually completed before mid-afternoon if I wake up before 9am. They are the crux of my satisfaction with my day’s time spent.
Nice way to plan our day. Thanks you very much
My Perfect Day changes from time to time. But here we go:
Wake up from a restful nights sleep.
No noise, TV or music.
Take a long hot shower.
Dress in a really nice outfit. Taking time do do my makeup.
Have a great breakfast. Waffles or French Toast, sausage or bacon, etc.
Accomplish something productive.
A light lunch.
Read a really great sci-fi or fantasy novel, see a really good movie or watch a very funny stand-up comic.
A great home cooked dinner or go to a really good restaurant.
Write some personal letters to family & friends.
No phone calls.
In bed & asleep by 10pm.
Jerker (Energetic and Productive) says
Great tips! Learning to say no has been the hardest for me. When your time gets more and more scarce because you’re involved in a lot of projects, you also have more and more people wanting your help or opinions. It really takes a while to make that shift and be able to say no even though you naturally want to “be nice” and comply.
Having priorities figured out beforehand makes it a bit easier though.
I’m still discovering the pefect day concept but believe I recently had one when I woke up inspired about something andthen had the latitude to reorder my day to pursue it. Was so much fun.