This guide describes how to create and use a paper based day planning system. Much of modern life can be wasted either through lack of vision, planning or preparation. Rigorously planning your days can minimalise time spent working or waiting and maximise engagement with pleasure, happiness and growth. The possession of either a pencil and rubber or pen and white-out marker is essential in the making and use of a day plan. It is assumed that the reader is already skilled in the use of an appointments to-do list and diary. In this version I have the pleasure of acknowledging: kayle (at) irational.org for encouragement otherwise all this research would have been binned. I would also, like to thank the creator of lagmhor bay rock shelter (Skye), where most of this guide was written.
3.0 Why make a day plan ?A day plan provides a combined and edited, hence more readable and specific version of an appointments diary and to do list. A planned day can provide a structure to relax into, in the same way a house is seen as a place of refuge not a place of confinement. You know whats going to happen and how much, thus releasing you from the feeling of being out of control or having too much to do. A structured day can help eliminate mental energy required constantly deciding what to do next. A day plan should maximise the efficiency of dispatching chores. I try to have all my work finished by lunch time. Sitting in a traffic jam can be a pleasure if approached with a positive attitude, but more fundamental activities offer greater happiness and growth such as being in nature or having sex. A day plan can enable the utilisation of lost space and time such as in-between time spent on journeys. Staring at subway advertisements can be replaced with walking with friends, doing graffiti or listening to music. I am assuming that most people interested in reading this text will be other artists, who will already have a containing practice for their activities. If you don't have such a structure, then develop one. You energies will be not only easily be focused and productive, but more meaningful. Structured day planning is a useful instance of this type of containment. Through the repetition of individual ideal elements we can gradually move towards a recurring perfect whole day. Life is full of interruptions, mostly unpleasant. A clear overview of things you need or want to do can help rebuff distractions. A day plan can be used to ring fence time and place for personal pleasure and growth. A bottom line of enjoyment can be drawn, above which the experience of the day can be maintained. It can be used as proof of unavailability, but can also be abandoned if better options present themselves. A fully planned day can be a perfect excuse for not doing something unpleasant. Grace of movement can be refined not only on a human scale, but also on a street and city scale. Aspirational habit paths can be laid down and easily followed. A day plan can be useful for on the move note taking. Each day plan can be filed for later reference and analysis. A day plan can be a space for unwelcome interventions by your loved ones. Mine regularly become sketch pads for my girlfriend.
4.0 How to make a day plan.Try to make your day simple. Most people fail to see that it is possible to directly achieve their ambitions and get persuaded into intermediate steps, by people who profit from the diversion. Try to attempt tasks directly without meditation steps. The places we visit and the journeys we undertake determine the experiences we have and the thoughts and further actions we follow. A good day plan can set the conditions for happiness, productivity and a better tomorrow. We have the ability to change our environment, often only in small ways. A stone placed each day, after some months becomes a path or wall. A single seed planted each day eventually becomes a woodland. Make your day plan the evening before. Not only does this give you a system to slip into upon awakening, but night planning tends to be more ambitious and inspired. This is either due to falling off the end of the daily habitual tracks or just confidence from completing your day successfully. When you are a disciple of the day plan you will have both reckless courage and dogged discipline to move your forward. A day plan is generated by selecting relevant appointments from ones diary and pending items from a to-do list. These will be arranged in a geographically spaced manner on a convenient sized piece of paper. A sheet of A4 can be folded twice and fits easily in the pocket providing ample planning space. To create a day plan, first consider tasks and activities that you would or would not perform, plus ones that you strongly aspire to. Then do this for locations where these tasks would be performed. When you are clear of your intentions sketch out the locations you anticipate visiting in the day. Write today's date on your day plan. Then add today's appointments and most urgent tasks. Transfer yesterday's unfinished tasks plus your preferred tasks. Also, for each landmark, create a list of tasks that you do, should do or want to do each or most of the times you visit. Even obvious things such as brushing your teeth at home should be included. Make a non located list of activities that you intend to perform each day e.g. be somewhere sunny or smile at people. Try to include free time and space to allow new or unexpected events to impose themselves upon you. Go to a place each day for no reason and do something that can not be described or easily repeated. If a certain method of achievement is no longer productive, try another or perhaps do nothing for a few days or weeks. You and the world are always changing and routines and habits only function temporarily. Do not hold on to a routine that no longer works otherwise you will expend more and more energy and ultimately take a nose dive. Create a different radical day plan from time to time or perhaps don't create a day plan at all to make sure you have not become addicted to something on your day plan or day planning itself. If you do decide to enter the cult of the self and create a delusional world to explore, chart and commodify, then make sure you have a way out, even if its only to another delusional state. Develop different plans day plans for various weather conditions or different sections of personal monthly or annual cycles. Habits are an efficient method of getting things done. They can also be burdensome. The creation and maintenance of habit requires a lot of energy this quickly becomes apparent when we try to step beyond an ingrained habit. Breaking or disrupting these habits can release energy for other activities. So change your routine either temporarily or permanently on a regular basis. For instance, take a regular break from being yourself. In any form of work or training, productivity can be increased by creating a motivational fantasy. Going to the bank to pay in cheques will be more efficient or pleasurable if you believe that you are practising for a bank robbery or a similar adventurous activity. Fighting the system or becoming a celebrity seem to be the most popular self centered fantasies in our society. You may prefer to believe you could be working for the greater good instead though. Make sure any fantasy is only employed in limited amounts. Do not let it breach the confines of the day plan page and become an escape from the intensity of the miracle of being alive. By following a fantasy we build stories. Create yourself a personal story to understand your past, but better still, project an ideal story into the future. Then make sure that most steps lead in that direction. Do not believe in your story, just see it as a useful process. Develop a passion for your activities. Fantasy may kick start this process, but get real as soon as possible and follow the passion. Make sure your passions are contained and channelled in a productive and ethical manner. Each evening consider your successes and advances or mistakes and failures, then put them to rest. Transfer unfulfilled tasks to the next day's plan.
4.1 Landmarks.Be in places that support your tasks. For example, if there are five banks in your town, visit the one that makes you happiest, even if it is not the closest. Be careful not to create negative associations at important landmarks. If something is not happening to plan and is likely to create bad feeling then move on and try another day. Be sure to use the correct names for landmarks as personalised names could lead you into the cult of the self. Perhaps use grid references for ultimate depersonalisation.
4.2 Tasks.Keep tasks to a minimum. Do not fall for the idea that attempting or fulfilling many tasks equals achievement. Concentrate on the quality of your effort and the full completion of tasks. If a task can not be completed or even started then create the conditions in which it can. Remember that apart from the occasional exceptional moment, daily life is as good as it gets, so make sure you include a little or lot of the things that bring you joy. Don't wait for a holiday or party to have fun, do it while you produce. In an authoritarian society, a day plan can provide authorisation to act. Making time for and writing down indicates good reasoning and provides permission and thus removes shame e.g. look at pornography/ watch television. Always remember, that having nothing to do is the highest state of efficiency and achievement. Do not feel anxious and tempted to fill up free time with work. Be aware not only of what other secondary tasks are required to attempt or complete a primary task, but also which further tasks will result from its completion. For example, to take a photograph not only is a fully functioning camera required, but also a system for transferring, naming, ordering and storing the final image. It may be better not to take the photograph in the first place. Make sure to add some seemingly unfulfillable tasks, which would take you many steps forward if achieved. Attempting them will stretch and broaden you. Failure will demonstrate your limits, while success will surprise and inspire you. Add things that will challenge you, but don't feel guilty if you do not do them. If you fail to fulfill a task then be careful not to attempt it again too soon. If you continually fail to complete a task, drop it for sometime, otherwise you will generate negative associations which will undermine the success of your future attempts.
4.3 Routes.Try to follow simple looping journeys. Keep routes as uncomplicated as possible. Try not to cross other routes or visit the same landmark more than once in the same day. Be aware of all the different methods of transport that are available between landmarks. Also, consider the activities that are possible en-route between landmarks e.g. listening to music/ meditating/ skateboarding. Two people can perform the exact same tasks each day, but the order in which they are performed can define each persons sense of self. You can have a totally different day just by altering when and where tasks are enacted. Follow routes that make you happy as well as efficient. Try to vary your routes otherwise you will get bored with them and thus reduce your happiness. Occasionally make a new route deviating from predefined public routes. For example, climb a wall or go through a semi-private building. If you really enjoyed a route or are preparing to start an anxiety-generating route, run the route through your mind several times in a positive fashion. When you actually perform the route next, it should be with more joy and ease.
5.0 Using a day plan.Keep in mind your main intentions for the day. Be prepared to modify or abandon a task if it is going to disrupt the overall form of the day. People make their own good luck or more precisely, they lay the conditions to respond constructively to chance happenings. Remember that your day plan is a mitigation of living in a competitive, degraded society and that occasionally things break down and something generous or rich is on offer If such a door opens, take the opportunity and discard your day plan. A perfect day plan is one that neutralises the deadening effects of your environment and prepares you for an instance of life and celebration. Your days should be a party zone. Be present in your activity. There is no point planning a day for growth and happiness if you come back either not remembering or moved by it. Make sure that in your quest to fulfil your day plan, you do not ignor the events going on around you, but do not get become distracted by them. Follow your day plan almost to the letter unless it states; do not look in shop windows or at attractive people. Perhaps, see yourself as an actor following a script. Consider what might go wrong in your day and run through your mind positive actions. This should ensure that your on-the-ground response will be constructive. Note any compulsion to stray from your day plan or any avoidance of any activity or location. Do not think ill thoughts of others as this will hinder your progress. Do not worry, its either being dealt with on today's plan or you can add it to tomorrow's. Do not at any time call yourself a day plan artist or maker. If you are already a day plannist then seek help from a psychologist. If you are suffering from pain then make sure any regular day plan, location or activity you adopt is not a form of escape. Perhaps include an activity or place to confront any pains directly. Changing one's routine can create the conditions for certain pains to ease or disappear. For example, not engaging in arguments or eating too much sugar tend to improve ones well being. Study which activities generate less work. Perhaps consider abandoning tasks which directly make more tasks.
5.1 Landmarks.If you are attracted to a landmark or activity, but have no valid reason to go there, still visit or act. After several repetitions you will find that you soon have compelling and legitimate reasons to visit on a regular basis.
5.2 Tasks.Do not doubt a task: if it was important enough to add to the day planner, then get on with it. Take note of any emotions you may have during your day, but do not let them cause you to deviate from your day plan. Most of us have little control over thoughts and emotions, but we do mostly have control over our actions. Perform the actions on your day plan that were decided with rational good intent. Always remember this could be your last day, so complete your tasks with pleasure and grace. Do not concern yourself too strongly over the coming tasks, as with any luck, you will not have to perform them. I am a strong believer in the idea that your last 10 seconds of life are the most important. Don't be thinking about unfinished scheduled tasks on during this time. Equally so, make sure you add the tasks today that you want fulfilled before you die. Its good to have nothing to live for. After each task, cross it out and select the next one to attempt. Consider the next task as you approach its landmark so that you will be in the correct mental state to attempt it. Also, note landmarks generate unique states in the minds of the surrounding people. Try to anticipate the best mental state required to attempt and complete a specific task.
5.3 Routes.Place trust in the systems and people who can offer you assistance. The occasional inconvenient disruption of a service will be much less stressful than the continuous daily expenditure of personal anxious energy. Develop friendships or at least acknowledgements with people along your routes or at your landmarks.
6.0 Advanced Use.Give yourself license to perform unusual activities and see if you take the opportunity. Ask around to see if other people create day plans. If so, compare your day plans and look for commonalities. See if you perform the same task and note different approaches. Perhaps get other people to follow your day plan either to have a break from yourself or get another persons interpretation on your organisational skills. You may find it interesting to follow their day plan. Make an imagined day plan for someone else and then follow it to get better understanding of that persons life and perspectives. Create a shared day plan with a partner or a friend for increased efficiency and better understanding of the others daily experience. Perhaps get someone to follow you on one of your regular days and make a record of your actual activities. This can be compared to your day plan to discover discrepancies between your intentions and your true actions. Perhaps spend a whole day at one landmark or repeating a journey, taking note of all the tasks undertaken by other people. This may give greater insight into your own motivations, methods, efficiency and results. It may be interesting to repeat a past day plan. This maybe a way to discover the spirit in the machine. Perhaps make an internal day plan and plan for the emotions or thoughts to be experienced during the day.
7.0 Reference.Buddhist Psychology, Caroline Brazier.
World Values Survey.