The Shape of a Week

I recently had the thought to check my work holiday log, given that it is, after all, October. It quickly became apparent during the course of this endeavour that, my sojourn around the Cote d’Azure excepted, I essentialy work all of the time and therefore have accumulated a franky ludicrous amount of time to take off while it’s still 2019.

This is convenient because I also have a frankly ludicrous amount of personal projects that have been neglected a frankly ludicrous amount. With all this in mind, I’ve decided to treat myself to a little week off which I’m imagining as the nirvana of personal productivity, the likes of which would shock Cal Newport and humble David Allen. The contents of these projects shall remain irrelevant however to the thrust of this blog entry, suffice to say that they encompass in measures the esoteric, the dangerous, the foolish, and the staggeringly dull, and you’ll hear about them when they’re quite ready thank you very much.

No, what I’m hoping to commit to publically (so I might actually stick to it) is to make it through a week adhering to a strucutre which I feel will help me live my best lifeTM. With the freedom to plan my days entirely, I’m hoping to, from Sunday to Sunday, try an experiment in building some habits around the main content of each day.

Over the last few years I’ve take a fairly conscious leap into self-development, and mainly through the mechanism of making a concerning amount of mistakes have refined some practices which I feel have led to an improvement in quality of life. However whilst I’ve gone through phases of nailing one or another, and, more rarely, a couple at once, I’ve never quite hit these all with total consistency.

Whats most interesting is I’ve found that neglecting one or another leads to cascading failures, but hitting just one with regularity makes the others easier to achieve. In other words, I’m very curious to see the power of the compound interest of mindfully approaching all of these at once.

I’ve found that it takes a lot of discipline to build a habit, a little reflection to turn that habit into a system, and very little effort to maintain a habit with the support of a system. So I’m hoping to gain enough insight over this week to improve some systems. Below is a summary of what I’m hoping to achieve.


This should be the most straightforward one, not because of any special talent, but because I’ve spent a few months tracking and tweaking calories and macros, and finding ways to hit them sustainably. It’s to the extent now that passivity will lead to adherence, and I’d have to put in effort to seek out chances to fall off the wagon. Success here will look like hitting protein, fat, carb, and calorie goals each day, with an allowance of one slightly more relaxed meal through the course of the week, usually I would cash this in during a meal out with friends or fam.

Physical Training

This is another area where I’ve been in the process of building a routine over a good period of time. I’m carrying a bit of an injury currently (despite a regular routine of powerlifting I in fact sustained this one reaching for an object in a shop…) so won’t be pushing out any PRs, but I’m still hoping to do full routines adjusted down for weight where appropriate. I’ve been working over the last few months, by trial and error and reflection, on a routine that is challenging but sustainable, and the current iteration ideally takes the form of 6 days a week of training, comprising 3 days of weight training, 3 days of cardio, and one day of total rest, so I’m aiming to fit that into this week.


Historically, my sleep consistency and timing have been mildly horrifying. It’s an area where I haven’t delved much into science or tracking, instead gaining any improvements largely off the back of general lifestyle improvements. Over the last couple of years I’ve become increasingly better at getting good amounts of sleep as a side effect, and regularly now get 7-8 hours. I’m not at all, and despite many efforts, a morning person, and my sleep cycle runs a little late, normally around 1am-9am. Over this week, I’m planning to mainly observe how my body regulates its own sleep given an absence of alarms and schedules, something I don’t typically get away from even on a ‘proper’ holiday. I have a bad habit of letting my sleep phase slip much later in the day in the absence of an external schedule, and the period towards the end of my university degree where I was regularly sleeping between 7am and 2pm comes to mind. I can confirm that’s a not a great sleep schedule and I do not recommend it if you enjoy eating, meeting people, or doing things. So maybe a goal of avoiding that again.


This is the one I’m most curious about. Of all the wellbeing practices I’ve mentioned so far, meditation has tended to provide the most benefit for the amount of effort invested, a fairly strong claim when the other practices include eating, sleep, and exercise, I’m sure you’ll agree.

The state of consciousness achieved during meditation is fairly profound, and in much the same way as the taste of an apple could be easily explained, it’s not really understood until it’s experienced. But to endeavour to try, there’s a grounding quality to the practice, a feeling of disconnectedness from negative emotional states, which appear, from this relaxed state, inconsequentially transient and something to be observed rather than experienced. In contrast, there is a feeling of connectedness to the universe at large, which quickly rushes to become peace, then gratitude, then joy, then compassion with such force and rapidity that there seems little doubt that this is in fact our natural state, if only we could stop being momentarily distracted by thought and activity to notice.

There’s a lyric I’ve always enjoyed from track by The Waterboys, The Whole of The Moon.

“I wandered out in the world for years

While you just stayed in your room

I saw the crescent

You saw the whole of the moon”

I like to think this means you can get into life’s biggest questions, and the understanding of human nature, by putting yourself through new experiences, but also by reflecting on your own internal experience. I believe both types of practice are necessary for growth, but like adding fuel to a fire, I believe lessons come more quickly when we give ourselves time to be peaceful and introspective.

Meditation has had a positive impact on my daily life, and as a direct result I’ve developed a little more equanimity with circumstances and appreciation of the duality of experience. What after all would light mean without darkness, or peace without trouble, or plenty without lack. With this insight, events initally percieved as negative become a little less bad, a little more simply ‘is’. This is not to say by any means that I, as a total beginner, am cured of concerns, but merely that I can see the start of a long path that leads to better self-awareness and self-control if explored. It’s reported among meditators that the benefits have a ‘half-life’ when in contact with the rigour of daily life, and so I’m hoping for the first time in my life to develop a steady practice here if even for a week, so that this less reactive mindset can be more easily and regularly accessed.

And so that’s what I’m hoping will be the shape of my week. It seems like a lot each day, but realsitically I’m thinking that three hours should be a generous allocation to fit in food, training, and meditation at a relaxed pace, which should leave plenty of time for fun holiday times. Thanks for reading!