Day Crafting Today / Ideas, tools, behavioural psychology and practical philosophy from Day Crafting that you can put into practice now.

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Ideas, tools, behavioural psychology and practical philosophy from Day Crafting that you can put into practice ...


Day: Tuesday, I think. Second most productive day of the week.
Time: Just about 9:34 am
Chronorhythm: Mid peak.
Good time for: Deep work, editing, research, coffee.
Day Crafting activity: Most important work.

Based on a finch chronotype day of 7am to 11pm.

Click the title below for the permalink url.

If Work Processes Lead to Stress, is it Time to Consolidate or Pay Off Your System Debt

It is difficult to start new roles or projects without causing problems that you’ll need to come back and fix at a later date. As you work fast to learn a new role or start a new business or project, good enough is often satisfactory if it gets you to the next step. New product and service teams use the term technical debt to describe the cost of choosing quick and convenient off-the-shelf solutions (typically bits of software or design templates) because doing it ‘properly’, building from scratch would be too costly during the start-up stage. Inevitably, though, the debt needs to be settled. Sooner or later, the job must be done properly (usually once you’re beyond the prototype phase, off the ground and running).

Consider this: a similar debt might be lurking in your own work systems, whether you’re working independently or as part of a team. We often opt for quick solutions, especially in areas like communication, work capacity organisation, and expectations, just to get things moving. But once we’re up and running, we rarely find the time to revisit and improve these compromised system parts, even though it could greatly benefit us.

In Day Crafting, I call this system debt * The system is everything from productivity processes and flows to the working environment, schedules and even other people.

Are you suffering from system debt? I’m imagining the following in a TV infomercial voice: If you have communication overload with unmanageable email or message volumes, unread emails, unreturned calls, and missed messages piling up, leading to a backlog that becomes harder to manage over time, or you’re over capacity with tasks accumulating faster than you can process them, this is a clear sign of system debt. If you’re tired, busy, unmotivated, low on energy, etc ... you get the point. System debt can lead to burnout, decreased productivity and a general sense of overwhelm.

So, what’s the solution? Instead of resorting to drastic measures like declaring system bankruptcy (yes, some people do slay the inbox dragon and delete everything when their unread inbox hits 10,000+), we can consider a more practical approach: something like a system debt consolidation plan. Day Crafting, with its small yet consistent steps, is a great tool for this.

Here’s how the system debt consolidation plan works. It could be a weekly or monthly review of your work or productivity systems (explored more in the Productivity Workbook). Next, start implementing specific fixes and system improvements. This might involve updating your communication tools, streamlining your work processes, or setting clearer expectations with others. Finally, review your progress and repeat the cycle. The key is to prevent the debt from piling up again.

Depending on your system, you might be surprised at the results of small, quick fixes such as simplifying tasks, defragmenting your schedule, and implementing more precise rules about what you say yes to. For instance, setting a limit on the number of meetings you attend in a day or using a task management tool to prioritize your work. Or you might want to be more radical and become harder to find by putting some friction between people demanding your attention and your schedule or even row back on some supposedly marvellous technologies like email, push notifications and 24/7 connectivity. For example, email, as a way to organise work, agendas, and information requests, was always going to be in the system debt category. There are much better ways. You may find the workbook a useful resource.

I’m working on this very problem with several Day Crafting Apprentices in 1:1 sessions. If you’re interested in working on this and getting some help, please get in touch.

* page 29 of Day Crafting: The Productivity Workbook.

Written by Bruce Stanley on Mon, May 27, 2024

Previous entries

Scheduling Tools to Preempt Busy Reactive Days

Does your work system feel more like A or B?

  1. Pressing problems.
  2. Deadline-driven projects.
  3. Lots of interruptions.
  4. Lots of meetings.
  5. Whiff of burnout.
  1. Intentional focus.
  2. Relationship building.
  3. Intrinsically motivated.
  4. Emphasis on preparation.
  5. Reviewing to learn.

A) are all hallmarks of a reactive working system: tasks are urgent, we’re in demand, thinking has to be fast and habitual, and we’re somewhat satisfied if our output is good enough. B) are more typical of a reflective system: less pressured, tasks are important, but we can be slower and more deliberate to enable higher-quality output.

Sat March 23 2024

Blueprints for Play: A Day Crafter’s Guide to Creative Experimentation

When I was a kid, growing up in the 70s and 80s, there was a lot of routine. Set meals for set evenings. Same pattern for school. The same 3 TV channels showing the same black and white programmes on Saturday night. Same place for holidays (Putsborough Beach, N Devon). We were pretty poor and my clothes were routine; jumble sale t-shirts and patched jeans were handed down. All of this is likely responsible for my enthusiasm for the makeover.

Wed February 21 2024

A to-do list of to-do lists

Lists are not the best solution at the productivity and information management system level. For that, I use a Kanban system like Trello.

Having a to-do list-driven work system can lead to overwhelm and stress as you never get to the end of it, and it allows you to bypass prioritisation and choose, at the moment, what you feel like doing next.

Mon January 22 2024

Understanding the Complexity of Human Behavior. The Elephant and Rider. Insights from Day Crafting

The Problem: Unraveling Human Behaviour

How do we explain our odd behaviour – procrastination, resistance to change, difficulty changing or starting habits, intense emotional feelings and instant reactions? Your logical mind wants to act one way, but another part pulls you in a different direction. This internal struggle is a common experience, describing a fundamental aspect of human psychology and is relevant to the behaviour design central to Day Crafting. Sometimes, it is as if two distinct entities are within us: one driven by raw emotion and instinct and another governed by reason and foresight. What if both of these aspects could work together rather than in conflict?

Sun January 21 2024

Beyond the Superficial: Exploring Deeper Connection Through VIA Strengths

This is an important question: do you want to improve your connection with others? If that isn’t a problem at the working surface of your Day Crafting, then bookmark this newsletter for another time. This post explores the topic, looking at the importance of connection, a quantifiable metric to see which connection strengths you can develop and some practical action to address the opening question.

Fri October 06 2023

Day Crafting: The Self-care Workbook

Crafting involves intentionally focusing on each step of the process, an attention to detail that leads to a well-formed product. Crafted self-care allows you to refine each aspect of your wellbeing, from physical to mental health. In this shaping, you’re ensuring that each action and task is deliberately made with your best days in mind. I’m thrilled to announce the release of the latest addition to the Day Crafting Apprentice Series: The Day Crafting Self-Care Workbook. This workbook is designed to help you craft a nuanced approach to self-care that goes beyond the surface. I’m especially pleased to finish writing it as it rounds out the series from the Introduction to the main aspects of the day through the specialist workbooks.

Thu September 21 2023

Redefined riches, the true currencies of your day

It might feel like you’re making it up as you go along, but that’s not really true. Beneath our actions and choices are rules we follow to make decision-making easier and save cognitive bandwidth (some refer to these, laudably, as values). Much of this habitual functionality is fine, but if you wonder how you got so tired or stressed or so far away from what seems meaningful in your days – this automatic behaviour could be the place to Day Craft.

Fri August 18 2023

Days with meaning: is it time to design and refine your purpose?

Self care of your purpose.

Day Crafting explores the flow of energy from your maintenance (energy in) through your physical and mental work (energy out) and it also highlights how purpose helps focus your energy and accumulate meaningful progress. Clear purpose is only one factor in your self-care but it can be disproportionately important for some.

Tue July 18 2023

Enjoying the Power of Celebrations, Rewards, and Treats in Day Crafting

It’s Friday, the weekend has arrived, or you’ve finally cleared your email inbox. Maybe you’ve achieved a milestone that required hard work or simply had a stroke of good luck. Perhaps you’d be content with some unscheduled or undeserved kindness. All of these are reasons to celebrate, reward, or treat yourself (aren’t these the same thing?).

Fri May 05 2023

The synergy of self-care, how sleep, nutrition, exercise and rest work together

Under the heading of maintenance (how we look after ourselves in a day) generally*, our four most important actions are sleep, nutrition, exercise, and rest. What I’ve been writing about this week, after exploring those four elements individually, is how they interrelate. I’ve been adding detail to an arrow network diagram that shows how they affect each other – and subsequent topics such as energy, productivity, stress, immunity, and subjective well-being. It is perhaps no surprise that sleep has the most connections on the diagram.

Fri March 31 2023

Breaking the Mold: How to Change Your Identity in a Single Day

When asked how he managed to stay so active and enthusiastic, despite his age, an 80-year-old man said, “Each day I wake up, and I don’t let the old man in.” This moving and powerful quote filtered through to Clint Eastwood (via Toby Keith, a songwriter), and both the quote and the song ended up in Eastwood’s film, The Mule.

Fri March 17 2023

Are your days NEAT enough?

Why is it that citizens of certain places live significantly longer, healthier lives than the rest of us? These ‘blue zone’ places include Sardinia, Okinawa, Icaria in Greece, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica and a Seventh-day Adventist community in California. What they have in common are some fairly simple lifestyle factors that contribute to their residents’ longevity, such as a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, regular physical activity, and a strong sense of community.

Tue January 31 2023

Only a minority of people actually review their course

Are you off course? This is an especially relevant question if you’re in new territory or if you’re making a new thing and more often than not, we are in that situation. Even if we think we’re doing the same thing, the world around us is volatile and constantly changing. How does the opening question help? It helps in that the more often you review your direction and signs of progress, the more often you can course correct potentially saving you from using resources you would otherwise waste and the associated frustrations.

[It turns out that not many people do this very often]

Fri January 13 2023

Counting your happy days

Here’s a short story about Abd al-Rahman III and Day Crafting. He was the grandson of the Emir who chose him from all of the potential successors to take the throne at the age of 21. His father had been assassinated by one of his brothers but there were other uncles and cousins to choose from so he must have been special. Abd al-Rahman III was unusual in other ways – despite his Arab lineage, he was a short and stocky, fair-skinned, blue eyed man which suggests there were European concubines in his family tree.

Fri December 02 2022

What rhythms does your body move to? Circadian, ultradian, infradian and circasemidian.

Is your day a harmony or a discord? This isn’t just poetic language. You have a finite amount of energy you can use during your day to maximise your productivity, wellbeing, creativity or whatever else matters so there are two actions you can take.

Firstly to make sure that energy is as high as it can be each day and secondly to schedule your choice of when you do things so that you’re doing the task when your energy for it is at its peak (this might mean you can do more, efficiently).

For example, the peak time for physical performance is late afternoon to early evening for most elite speed athletes which is why the Olympics schedules the 100m for that time. Here are our main energy rhythms that affect each of our days.

Thu November 10 2022

Why would you want to join a choir if you’re an introvert?

Does the lack of time or fear of stepping out of your comfort zone prevent you from experiencing joy and remarkable days? This is a short story about grief and the crunch day to take on a challenge.

Thu September 22 2022

Day Crafting: The Productivity Workbook

Day Crafting is about developing the skills to use time meaningfully. It is the everyday art of making a good life. It is a set of methods to craft the style in lifestyle.

How is your day different from how it could have been? Bridging that gap is the practical skill of Day Crafting. It is the good life in two steps: balance and flourish today, then repeat tomorrow.

Tue September 06 2022

Day Crafting: The Body-clock Workbook

Day Crafting is about developing the skills to use time meaningfully. It is the everyday art of making a good life. It is a set of methods to craft the style in lifestyle.

How is your day different from how it could have been? Bridging that gap is the practical skill of Day Crafting. It is the good life in two steps: balance and flourish today, then repeat tomorrow.

Tue September 06 2022

When self-care meant getting dirty and skirting peril

What does self-care mean to you?

Is it on autopilot or something you relish giving attention to? What problems do you encounter in your day to day self-care routines? I’m asking because I want to make the interventions in Day Crafting fit the kinds of problems we all encounter – and I’m starting to write the Self-care Workbook this week.

Mon September 05 2022

Monthly Apprentice Practice Set

MAPS is a monthly open workshop space for Day Crafting Apprentices to gather (over zoom). It is part action learning and part masterclass. It is a good way to develop and deepen your skills with the support of a leaning community. It feels like being in a warm and friendly workshop where fellow Apprentices are pleased to see you and find out how you’re doing.

Tue August 30 2022

Day Crafting Tailored Workshops

Day Crafting workshops are practical; as with any craft, workshop participants should be able to pick up useful skills and life-changing insights in even the shortest time. Workshops also include accessible content covering related theories and psychology but it is in support of the experiential focus.

Fri November 19 2021

Introductory Workbook – Learn Day Crafting at your own pace

Here is the first in a new Apprentice Series of Day Crafting workbooks. This works as a standalone course or as a compliment to the Day Crafting Apprentice Course – or as a refresher if you’ve completed the Day Crafting Apprentice Course. Further workbooks are available here.

In this post you will find some photos from the workbook, a free sample to download containing a range of example pages and a link to buy the book.

Mon November 01 2021

Get Your Day Crafting Five A Day

What five things could you craft into every day to help your life flourish? This simple intervention goes to the heart of the Day Crafting philosophy – the good life is more days with time for these activities. The ingredients for a good life are simple, the challenge is intentionally making time for them and giving them our attention.

Fri June 04 2021

School holiday Day Crafting primer for children

How can Day Crafting help your children structure their days when they’re on holiday from school? Answering the question, ‘What do you want to do today?’ can be quite a cognitive challenge. My daughter is 10 and we’re experimenting with this tool (which we’ve co-adapted) to provide some inspiration.

Sat May 29 2021

Reset your days to your internal clock

Imagine a clock that told you personally when it was your best time during the day to do certain tasks – such as the optimum time to do analytical thinking or to have a difficult conversation. The best time to eat carbohydrates or to drive or to have sex. This clock could be fairly specific and handle conditions, for example it could tell you when to exercise to perform at your best, or to lose weight or to raise your mood, or to build strength or avoid injury (each of these conditions would give a different time). It could give you a surprisingly long list of optimum timings – like the best time to make a sale or take medicine, to learn something, to drink alcohol, visit the dentist, solve creative problems and get out into the sunshine, to go first – or not, to work on through or to take a break. And unsurprisingly, when to get up and when to go to bed.

Thu April 22 2021

How To Think Like A Day Crafter

I’m fortunate enough to be in control of my schedule, so why does the 9 to 5 work ethic, amongst other influences, still loom and glower over my thinking? I feel like a long departed influential industrialist striking a pose like Isambard Kingdom Brunel is shaping my choices. Along with him is a sports (or business) coach who talks about goals and winning and success. I think there is a capitalist media mogul in there too, pushing rumours and feeding worries about insecurities that I can purchase my way out of.

Fri March 19 2021

The problem with business goals and imagining the future

Why is Day Crafting primarily concerned with shaping today, this day as the way to a good life?

I began coaching leaders almost 20 years ago in the context of their skills development, quality of life and ambitions. I noticed that nearly everyone could easily imagine exciting future goals. I was part of a programme that took executives through a deep visioning process and at the end they knew this: where I want to be in x months or x years time. However, almost none of them knew how to affect the quality of the day they were actually in and most goals were dropped a matter of weeks later. The part of our thinking that imagines the future is no match for the identity and behaviour part that dominates the present.

Fri March 05 2021

The best way to design a new behaviour

I know a ‘lean systems’ expert. Her job, in aerospace manufacturing is to observe processes in factories and work out how to make them more efficient. This involves changing the position of machines and materials and the flow of materials around the space. Crucially it involves changing people: their ideas, their habits and practices, but people don’t like change.

Fri February 12 2021

Redesigning rest and unlocking energy use

Given that the human brain is constantly monitoring our energy budget and predicting our energy use and attempting to get us to balance output with restoration, it is perverse, but not altogether out of character, that the part of our brain that thinks it runs the show should come up with a notion such as, ‘I’ll rest when I’m dead’. Sometimes we choose to believe the dumbest ideas.

Fri February 05 2021

Crafting freedom from the hidden rules we allow to govern us

Last Wednesday the power went off. It was planned. Someone from the power company told us this was going to happen from 9am with power back estimated at 4.30pm. So, as a family all at home in lockdown we scheduled a special day of doing a lot of unplugged things. Including going for a walk after lunch.

When we got back at 2.30 the power was back on early ... so what did we do?

Fri January 22 2021

Setting intentions – the Day Crafting tool you’ll use most

Have you heard of a stitching pony? Every craft has ubiquitous tools, the potter’s wheel, the smith’s anvil, the carver’s chisel – and the leatherworker has the stitching pony which is used to grip the material. To the Day Crafter the tool used most often has to be intention setting.

Fri January 15 2021