Many of us have a “routine day” and this is often organized around the working hours and the many meetings we have to attend. We try to force fit the rest of our life around and sometimes in between the working hours. Some do it successfully and are satisfied with it but many others keep struggling for the best balance. Reality is that we should not think about working day and then organize accordingly – we should think about the NEAT day! NEAT is an acronym which stands for: Nourish, Evaluate, Accomplish and Think. Those are the four things we should do every single day in our life.
In this chapter we will explain the meaning of the four blocks and how to possibly organize the day around them.
This is maybe the most important block of the day and if you need to select one block as a priority then I would focus on this one. Nourish means providing the right conditions for growth. This is not limited to the physical growth but also to the psychological and any other kind of growth you might think of. Obviously you need rest and food for your body but you might need rest and “food” also for your soul, heart and mind. There are moments in the day clearly allocated to feeding the body - though for some people those are not always a priority and sometimes we skip them or don’t dedicate quality time to them. However, not everyone clearly defines moments in the day to nurture soul, heart and mind. We don’t live to work but work to live, hence remember to holistically nourish yourself every single day.
The human being is a social animal and as such keeps exchanging ideas and confronts others. This is the way we evolve and get better. Without exchange and external evaluation there is limited progression. For this reason it is important to have “evaluation” moments during the day – moments during which we exchange ideas with others and seek their thoughts. We need to keep evaluating what we are doing and whether we are going in the right direction or not. You can call those moments “meetings” but they do not need to be official – you just need to exchange ideas and thoughts with other people to evaluate your thinking. Remember that the best conclusions come from the confrontation between a thesis and its anti-thesis (Hengel – thesis antithesis synthesis).
At the end of the day it is rewarding to think about what we have accomplished hence about what else we can aim at. In order to get that rewarding moment, however, we need first to accomplish something and the best way to do it is planning for it. This is the famous or infamous “to do list” – whether you have a written official list of whether you keep it in your mind does not matter. The important is to have clarity about what you want and can achieve during the day and especially to allocate quality time to it. If you don’t know what you want to achieve or don’t have quality time allocated then, at the end of the day, you will be wondering why you are not moving forward. Hence plan, accomplish and keep moving.
It seems obvious but it is not actually. During the day we pass from one activity to another and very seldom dedicate quality time to proper thinking. It seems we are concerned about getting bored and we keep trying to fill the “empty spaces” with more or less useful things. Think about your “spare” time and the many things you do in order not to think: listen to music or podcast, reading, talking… those are all great things (by the way part of “nourish”) but sometimes it is good to just stop and think. Clear your mind and dedicate quality time to the things that concern you the most, the problems you want to solve or the things you have achieved, the many more things you still want to do... Get out of the “train of life” and get a different perspective.
Those are the four blocks that make a NEAT day and that should be evaluated in order to organize each and every single day in our life. As mentioned, the “nourish” block might be the one to start from – easy to plan for the body-nourishing moments but make sure to allocate time also to your soul, heart and mind. Then try to have both “accomplish” and “evaluate” moments during the working hours. Finally if there is time left add “think” moments and if there is no more time then re-evaluate the other three to make time to think! As said, all the four blocks need to be present each day. You decide how much to dedicate to one vs the others and how to create space but have them all. Have a NEAT day!