“Every day, we’re confronted with a thousand choices that can impact our health. But decision fatigue can increase stress and zap motivation. So we enlisted the best researchers in the country to design the perfect day.” Outside Online
Looking through the delightfully presented “Perfect Day” I knew I didn’t agree with it and that following on would be a challenge. In the name of research, I decided to put my reservations on the back burner and give it a try anyway.
Preparing for the experiment, as I aptly named it, I needed to find the ideal day. Amongst other things that went completely against my every day perfect day routine, the perfect day calls for no morning shower, no morning emails and an afternoon workout. I needed to find a day that I didn’t have a run on my workout schedule and a day that I could do without checking my emails in the morning.
The night before, I very dutifully spent two hours prepping. I read through the perfect day again and pulled out the structure that the perfect day called for;
Skip The Morning Shower
Drink Coffee #1
Eat a Balanced Breakfast
Walk or Cycle to Work
Start Working on your most Important tasks
Take a 20 minute break and have Coffee #2.
Check Your email
Have a snack
Take a visulisation break
Drink Green Tea and do 25 pushups.
Take a Break to Call Your Mom
Check your emails and write your to-do list for tomorrow
Recharge using heat for recovery.
Eat Dinner and Unwind
Drink a Glass of Wine
Catch up on your News/ newsletters
Turn off your screens
Go to bed early
I started to list all the problems each item posed, and the pre-planning it required for me to follow through. I know. At this point, I had already accumulated more decision fatigue than I build up in a week completely canceling out the premise of this article.
Waking up might sound like a simple step 1, but on The Perfect Day you do not wake up with a blaring alarm, but rather with the sun OR because they recognise this isn’t always possible, an alarm that illuminates or emits soothing sounds.
Considering I do not wake up with a blaring alarm, but rather with a few blaring alarms and sometimes even a real life person jolting me awake, I feared my perfect day would never even start. So my pre-plan checklist involved looking for new alarms in the app store.
The irony of all my pre-planning is that the night before the perfect day I was finishing up an online course and in sheer exhaustion, fell asleep on my bed, with the light on and no alarm set.
I woke up startled the next morning at 5.40am – in “daylight” not having finished my required lessons. The day already wasn’t perfect and I hadn’t even started.
Walking or cycling to work was the next biggest problem in the day. For 10 kilometres in my heels and with a laptop? Luckily they go on to explain that this is for the Sunshine. You need to increase your serotonin levels and boost your Vitamin D. I opted for breakfast outside instead and to add to the perfectness of the perfect day, Murphy awarded me with a cloudy grey sky.
The next challenge I faced was how many break times and snack times this perfect day called for. As my sister remarked when reading the structure of the perfect day over my shoulder, “When do you work!?”.
The reason for all the breaks is that they recommend working in intervals of 90 minutes, followed by a 20-minute break and call it “a prescription for maximising productivity.” In theory, this makes sense but it isn’t always (or ever) possible.
I tried my hardest to follow along but found I couldn’t align my work in such a way that I could take a 20-minute break every 90 minutes, whereas, in the Pomodrone timing system that I am currently testing, 5 minutes break for every 25 minutes of work felt more practical.
The next big struggle was snacking. Because I didn’t do my usual morning workout I found my appetite was very suppressed. I wasn’t even hungry by the time breakfast rolled around, so fitting in 2 snacks and another coffee before lunch, felt like a punishment more than help. They want you to keep your blood sugar levels stable and help you avoid a food coma, but what about overeating nausea?
I had planned to finish work early so I could get to the gym before the rush, do my workout and test out their heat recovery recharge session in the gym’s steam room. However, Murphy was working hard on my day and urgent tasks saw me leaving work passed 6.00pm.
By the time I had weaved through traffic, gone home to change and stopped by the grocery store to collect a bottle of wine for item number 21, it was well after 7.00pm. Needless to say, by the time I finished my workout, my steam room session, their hot and cold water shower formula, I was walking out the gym at 9.30pm – and I was the last person to leave.
I got home too late to enjoy dinner with my family and too late to even think of having an early night. As I sipped on a glass of wine, I pondered about what I had learned.
What I learned from The Perfect Day
There is no such thing as the perfect day and if there is it certainly isn’t this. With all the millions of individuals that make up the world, it is impossible to come up with a formula for the perfect day. I don’t care how much research goes into the reason of each of these points, no expert or research experiment tested out your personality or life’s conditions (unless of course you were part of the study). We are not the same and we don’t live equal lives.
I swear by morning workouts. They jumpstart my day, they rev up my metabolism, they make me excited for breakfast and make me feel like I can conquer my day. Best of all, nothing that happens at work can prevent me from getting to the gym or out on a run. It’s a huge sense of accomplishment knowing you have ticked that off your list before the average person has gotten out of bed. BUT, just because this works for me doesn’t mean that it should have to work for you.
The Outside Online article is truly filled with gems and great ideas that could certainly enhance anyone’s day to day life. I enjoyed the idea of meditating, but would never do it in the morning. Rather than help focus me for the day, it made me feel like I needed a nap. I liked my steam room session, but would not do it every day and definitely not on a work day. It was helpful to try build breaks in my workday but none are ever going to include drinking green tea even if I have to read another article every day about how good it is for you.
What I truly learned from the perfect day is that more important than obsessing on how to align your perfect day according to an expert and blindly follow along, is to see what you can draw out of the wisdom so that you can make your every day, not The Perfect Day but rather Your Perfect Day.