The Secrets Of The Ancients - Planning Your Day Like A Stoic

 

“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work – as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for – the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?” 

 

The Morning-Evening Rule of Stoicism

“We make our lives by the choices we make.” - Seneca


Seneca believed that each day should be divided into two halves: morning and evening. 


During the morning, you should deal with pressing matters because the morning is when you’re at your most rational. The morning is for living a virtuous life and accomplishing the important things.


With these out of the way, you can use the rest of the day to reflect and prepare for the next day. 


The evening is for self-examination, repentance, and spending time with your loved ones— to see if you have lived according to stoic standards and then make a new plan for the future. 



Wake Up Early And Get To Work

Stoics advise that you rise at daybreak to maximize productivity because your morning routine is the most critical part of your day. The morning hours are fresh and new, and we often have more energy early in the day. There is no traffic, no distractions, and no disturbances— So you can hear yourself think, especially if you live in a big city like London or Singapore.


When you rise before the rest of the world wakes up, you have time to reflect on the day ahead, set your priorities straight, and "plan" action. So, take it seriously!


Remember, waking up early is simple in theory but only sometimes so easy in practice. 


Set the alarm (or ten) an hour or two earlier than usual, splash cold water on your face, and do whatever you can to get to work!  You must do your part in the world to make it a better place. 


… Don’t take this opportunity for granted.



Reflect On The Day Ahead

Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and imagine what the rest of your day will be like. 


  • What obstacles will you have to overcome? 
  • What emotions will you feel?
  • Who will you see? 
  • What are you dreading? 
  • What is the best thing that can happen? 
  • What is the worst thing that can happen? 
  • BUT what is likely to happen? 
  • What do you have control over? 
  • What do you NOT have control over? 

These are the questions that you should be thinking about as you get ready for the day. 


Ultimately, you’ll have time to prepare and strategize by anticipating the day ahead. You’ll be less likely to be caught off guard and less likely to let your changing emotions get the better of you. You will use this reflection period to identify any problems you might be having and come up with solutions. 


Reflection allows you to become a problem solver who is self-aware of his faults... That's a powerful tool to have.


Remember To Focus On What’s Important

It is normal to want to experience everything when you are young. But as you get older, you realize that not all experiences are important or equal. You are faced with many little tasks fighting for your attention every single day. 


With only a few hours, how do you decide what to do and which to ignore? 


You realize you can’t do everything, so you must decide what is important to you. 


  • What do you want to do with your life?
  • And what do you have to do to make your life better?

We suggest categorizing and then eliminating. 


Separate your duties as a citizen from your duties as a worker. 


As a citizen, you must vote in elections, bear your share of taxes, support your country, community, and family in times of crisis, etc...


As a worker, you must do your job as thoroughly as possible. Everything else is a distraction. 


Jot down your dreams, goals, and aspirations, and see how they all build upon each other… if they don’t— Eliminate them. 


Remember, the only things that are genuinely under your control are your thoughts, emotions, and actions. Everything else is beyond your power to change, so don’t waste energy and time trying to fit something that is clearly misaligned. 


Don’t force yourself.

You Will Die

“How many are the things I don’t need and pass by unnoticeably, but how few are the things that, if I noticed, would do me good.” - Seneca 


We all die, but few of us remember this fact. But the Stoics knew that life was short (better than anyone). 


They knew that at any moment, they could be killed, maimed, or have a tragedy fall upon them. 


You could be in a car accident, get a terminal disease, or die in your sleep. Death is something that happens to everyone and can happen at any moment.

 … And believe it or not, it can even happen to the most successful of us. Death does not discriminate, and it is out of your control.


Acknowledging death is perhaps the most stoic thing a person can do to stay calm and focused on the present. 


You’ll be less likely to worry about what others think of you, material possessions, or other things outside your control. You’ll be less likely to squander your time and energy on people or things that don’t matter. 


“Preparing” yourself for the reality of death will make every moment you have a little more precious.


Conclusion

There is no real secret behind the Stoic’s success; there’s no magic recipe.


The Stoics knew how to make the most of their time and energy. They knew how to prioritize, reduce distractions, and focus on what was important. It's simple, that's it. 


The stoics knew they were responsible for their happiness and must face the world with courage, clarity, and rationality. Simply put, they were wise.


Stoicism began in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome and has influenced thinkers and leaders like George Washington, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William Shakespeare over the past few centuries.


Imagine what you could accomplish if you implemented a fraction of their teachings into your everyday routine. 


…. Just imagine.