This is page one of my handbook on Workday Design. Start here.
How is it that some of the most productive people you know hardly ever seem to get overwhelmed, hurried or ‘busy’? They are doing all those things, but they remain good-natured and enjoy their days.
Yet here you are, continually spinning your wheels in a shallow puddle of distraction, overwhelm and unfinished tasks. Chasing your to-do list into your bed every night, never fully able to switch off, and hardly ever feeling happy about your day’s work.
I know how that feels, because that used to be me.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
This isn’t a stable character trait bestowed upon you at birth, but a skillset you can learn and train. And doing so will change your life. After all, how we spend our workdays, is how we’ll spend most of our lives.
This handbook will show you how to do so through the process of designing your ideal workday. It is the result of close to a year’s worth of research into the latest findings in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, as well deconstructing some of the world’s top performers and a decade of countless personal experiments.
So if you’re interested in doing better work, in less time, while feeling less ‘busy’, and have more fun doing so, then please read on.
In this guide I’m not going to give you a cookie-cutter recipe, because there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Ignore anyone who says otherwise, and kindly ask for your money back.
Instead, I’m going to give you the foundational knowledge and ingredients to cook up your own ideal workday. And armed with this knowledge, you’ll also be able to adapt on the fly when unforeseen circumstances throw a spanner in the works (pun intended).
Here’s how we’ll do that:
- We’ll look into the latest neuroscience and cognitive psychology to understand how our brain operates best.
- While doing so, we’ll derive a set of First Principles of Workday Design.
- Then, we are going to put all of this into practice and help you develop your own ideal workday, from morning to bedtime.
This handbook is written specifically for independent knowledge workers.
(But don’t let that deter you. Human psychology (and biology) is all the same. These principles will apply equally the same to a Fortune 500 CEO as they’ll do to a college student or a superstar designer)
What is an ‘independent knowledge worker’? Someone who depends on their mental performance for their work, and has at least a modicum of autonomy over how they schedule their days.
Think freelancers, entrepreneurs, consultants, coaches and creatives.
Why specifically for them?
Well, first, because I’m one of them, and the genesis of this handbook came from me wanting to fix my own problems.
And secondly, while employees and CEOs have managers and consultants to help them with devising their workdays, most independents are left on their own to figure this out, creating yet another task we have to figure out for ourselves. As if taxes, marketing and sales weren't arduous enough. And it’s not exactly an easy puzzle to solve.
Let’s face it, we’re all tired and wired. And we’re all exhausted with ‘being busy’ and being a slave to the distraction economy, in some form or another.
It’s interfering with the quality of our lives and the quality of our work. And as I’ll show you in the coming pages, studies have shown that it’s making you dumber, more neurotic, less creative and more anxious and depressed.
But all of that is reversible. And I’m not talking years. A few weeks at most, if done right.
This handbook will show you to opt out, and reclaim the mental space and energy to do your best work, make better decisions, come up with more creative insights, all the while enjoying your life and without sacrificing your core human capacities (the ability to be kind, calm, present, curious, creative and compassionate).
Perennially teetering on the edge of a mental breakdown isn’t a requisite side-effect of ambition or great work.
And why be anxious, overwhelmed and frenetic, when you can be calm, present and productive instead?
Let’s start by understanding how our brains like to operate. These science-based first principles are guides that can help you understand what you should and should not do in order to be productive or creative, in any given situation. This alone is extremely valuable to learn.
“As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” — Harrington Emerson
When you start understanding the foundations of human cognition, all kinds of things will start to make sense all of a sudden. And the correct actions to take will be obvious to you. Like, ‘why is my mind wandering when I’m trying to focus?’ or ‘how come I’m feeling so overwhelmed right now?’
Let’s dig in.
Using Pareto’s Law, this handbook focuses on the basics. Going through this guidebook should take most people ‘mostly there’. But I want to go a lot deeper and I’d like to help others in a more interactive, hands-on context.
That’s why I have a limited-time offer: Join my upcoming (coached) course on Humane Productivity by pre-ordering it at an 80% discount. That’s right, only €25.
There are some criteria you need to meet, however. And the offer is only available for the first 25 people to qualify. Go here for more details.
Until it doesn't scale anymore, I'm also available for 1-on-1 consulting here. This offer is also open to remote companies who want to navigate the productivity & wellbeing pitfalls of running a remote business, of which there are many. This is a limited time offer, because it doesn’t scale (there’s only so much time in my day/week/life).
Learn how your brain functions best.