top of page

Please consider contributing your expertise to "The Masterminding Project."

I need YOUR help.

Launch date: Friday, September 8th, 2023

Touchdown date: Thursday, November 2nd, 2023

During this eight-week endeavor, I am committing myself to a minimum of 90 minutes each day to ensure the resounding success of "The Masterminding Project."

This guide will serve as your roadmap and, more significantly, your GPS Navigation System to seamlessly and effectively realign your life's orientation. You'll transition from the constant "push, push, push, and more, more, more" mentality to one where you relish the journey of each day, maintaining a leisurely yet productive pace, with results naturally emanating from this shift.

Your expertise is instrumental in addressing my Achilles' heel.

I face a challenge in delivering on this project because I grapple with the "expert's bias." I'm well-versed in this subject matter, and much of it seems self-evident to me. However, it's not always clear to me how to communicate this knowledge in a way that is understandable and actionable for you.

This is where your expertise becomes indispensable.

You possess the unique ability to pinpoint where and how I might be falling short in effectively conveying this information to you and others.

Here's how you can make a substantial impact on this project (your contribution) and for all those who will follow in using this tutorial to transform their lives:

  1. Return to this link daily or periodically until the project touchdown.

  2. Peruse the content each time, paying special attention to the additions, which will typically be found at the end, but may appear anywhere within.

Consider yourself my editor, almost a co-author.

Provide comments, suggestions, questions, and identify any errors you come across. As you read, inquire:

  • "Am I grasping this concept?"

  • "Are all my concerns regarding this issue being addressed?"

  • "Should a particular point be emphasized more or less?"

  • "Is this content engaging for me?"

  • "Am I getting excited about the potential for change in my life as I implement this?"

  • "If not, what is lacking?"

Feel free to use the feedback form located at the bottom of this link to communicate with me. If you prefer an alternative method, you can reach me at Please be sure to include your email address or other contact information with your feedback if you use the form below.


I sincerely appreciate your valuable assistance and collaboration in this endeavor.

Unless you specify otherwise, if you provide any feedback during this project, you will be acknowledged personally (at the conclusion of this tutorial) as a contributor to this groundbreaking initiative.

Masterminding the Trim Tab of Your Life


"Think of the Queen Mary — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder.

And there's a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.

It's a miniature rudder.

Just moving that little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around.

Takes almost no effort at all."

-Buckminister Fuller


Have you been missing your trim tab?

Before you make the decision to delve into and potentially apply the valuable insights presented in the following discussion, take this brief quiz to determine whether the knowledge you might gain could be a game changer for you.

What your score means

  • 81-100% If you're interested in refining your daily routine, you'll find some valuable suggestions here. You've already got a system that serves you well.

  • 61-80% While you're currently maintaining a decent level of effectiveness and satisfaction in your life, by applying the ADH Trim Tab you will be granted a bonanza of new opportunities and possibilities in your life.

  • 41-60% Wow, you've found the perfect spot to turn your life around! After confirming that these concepts have the potential to propel you into a new realm of ease and effectiveness, it's simply a matter of proceeding through a step-by-step process to enhance your expertise.

  • 40% and below It might be hardest for you to believe that implementing and maintaining such a fundamentally simple change could create an immediate about face, leaving further and further behind that everyday suffering that you've tolerated for much of your life.


All our life we've been getting it backwards

Yes, we've come by it honestly. Our culture, our religions, our parents, our teachers have all given us the message: results!


We praise and honor others, not because they're enjoying the journey of their life. We honor them for the results they create and what they do for us and others (more results).


We celebrate suffering

We celebrate and applaud individuals even more when their journey is or was arduous and challenging, but they demonstrated unwavering perseverance, keeping their focus and determination until they achieved the desired results. If they got where they are without hardship and struggle, they might even merit our lack of admiration. 

Consequently, we have learned to judge ourselves this way. Our identity gets attached to "What have we accomplished" and even "Did we keep going through no matter what."


Results! Accomplishment! Perseverance! That's what counts. 

Even reality tells us that. "If you don't catch the rabbit, you don't eat."

The process is an "in order to," a side dish, instead of being the main one

When we decide to go for something, that "something" is almost always a result. It's rare that the "something" is an enjoyable process that will probably also get a nice result. 

We jump in, maybe do a bit of planning, but we rarely stop and ask the question, "Have I designed and setup the process (that I think could lead to the result) in a way that's likely to be enjoyable and sustainable within the context of everything else in your life?"

In fact, it's often worse than "we've got the cart before the horse." We don't even recognize that the horse (the process and the journey) is an essential part of the equation and needs at least some attention.

If you want results, take your eye off the results

Yes, it might seem counterintuitive, but the validity of this concept becomes apparent upon closer examination.

Significant results frequently rely on ongoing processes, some of which extend indefinitely. Consider, for example, earning a living, maintaining a healthy diet, acquiring valuable knowledge, and nurturing meaningful relationships.

When we fail to prioritize the creation and implementation of enjoyable, engaging, and meaningful processes that are likely to lead to and uphold these results, we are not only underestimating the importance of the journey but also reducing our chances of attaining enduring and high-quality outcomes.

Prioritizing the process itself should take precedence over all other non-process outcomes.

Let's follow in nature's footsteps

"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."

-Francis Bacon

Nature instilled in both men and women the desire for sex and made the act itself pleasurable. Without these design choices by Nature, our species might not have survived or even come into existence.

Nature didn't shape us to fixate on the end result of parenting, which would demand substantial resources (24-hour care for the mother initially, additional mouths to feed, crying, and so forth).

Instead, Nature concentrated on making the process of sexual activity something we ardently desire and find pleasurable, to put it mildly. The outcomes naturally followed suit.

We have no choice

While it might appear that we possess the ability to behave in a manner that contradicts moving us closer to anticipated pleasure and further from anticipated pain, I have not encountered anyone who can convincingly demonstrate this for any specific situation.

Special notes about the distinctions of pleasure, pain, and projected


In this context, I employ the terms "pleasure" and "pain" in their most comprehensive meanings. For instance, "pleasure" encompasses the concept of eudaimonia, a sense of purpose, and the feeling of leading a fulfilling life. Similarly, "pain" encompasses boredom, fear, restlessness, a sense of purposelessness, depression, and loneliness.


Furthermore, I use the term "projected" in its broadest sense, encompassing both the automatic and more conscious aspects of our body and mind. The notion of projection is also constrained by how things currently exist and how they manifest in the moment of projection. It can involve an evaluation, whether unconscious or conscious, of the trade-offs when considering the various courses of action (or reaction) available to us, where both pleasure and pain are projected outcomes.

Where Nature left off, we need to continue the design upon that foundation which She built

The foundation bestowed upon us by Nature encompasses several key aspects:

  • We have an inherent tendency to move toward pleasure and steer away from pain.

  • Uniquely among animals, we possess the ability to transcend the present moment; we can dwell in both the past and the projected or imagined future.

  • Unlike our animal counterparts, we possess a formidable recursive capacity denoted by various terms such as metacognition, self-awareness, self-reflection, high-order thinking, and self-monitoring.

  • Our mental faculties are significantly influenced by evolutionary traits that have evolved over millions of years, often leading us to make predictable mistakes. These cognitive biases, notably the present bias, hinder our ability to accurately assess the trade-offs between pleasure and pain in the ongoing moments of our lives. The present bias, also known as hyperbolic discounting or time inconsistency is a cognitive bias wherein individuals tend to prioritize immediate rewards or benefits over future rewards, even when the future rewards are objectively more valuable. In other words, people tend to favor smaller, immediate gains over larger, delayed rewards.

  • In contrast to other animals, as we transition from childhood to young adulthood (typically starting around the age of five), Nature instills within us the desire to belong to social groups and a fear of disapproval from others, especially those within the groups we identify with. This desire to appear favorable (and avoid appearing unfavorable) becomes the primary context for determining what brings us pleasure and what triggers pain.

In not fully recognizing and building on the foundation of pleasure and pain, along with our ability to make projections into the future that Nature has given us, we have built a house divided against itself

In our efforts to counteract the present bias and mitigate the self-serving bias, we have predominantly chosen to address their effects by harnessing our unique ability (unlike other animals) to divide ourselves into two categories: "Next" and "Others," which we hold in high regard, and "Now" and "Oneself," which we tend to devalue. Unlike other animals, we possess the capacity for internal conflict, the ability to create concepts of good and bad, right and wrong, and engage in inner struggles.

While this approach, often fueled by our addiction to "looking good and avoiding looking bad," may often yield desirable short-term outcomes, it exacts an immeasurable cost: a continuous internal conflict and a fundamental lack of integrity. This path leaves no clear victors among our inner protagonists, and essential aspects of ourselves, whether it be our "Next," "Now," "Others," or "Oneself," in any given circumstance, bear the brunt of the losses.

The Five Regrets of the Dying

"The Top Five Regrets of the Dying" is a book by Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse who recorded the most common regrets of the dying patients under her care. According to her book, the five regrets are:

  • I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.​​

  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.​

  • I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.​

  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.​

  • I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The way out

For each of us these interminable internecine battles and squabbles among our four protagonists, even after discerning the essence of their disputes, can seem intractable. 

It's not. There is a trim tab: the Perfect Plan.

The Perfect Plan is a learnable, step-by-step process, that can take less than fifteen minutes a day. Day by day, the fundamental prioritization of this one fifteen-minute practice will restore and maintain, not only your Now-Next Integrity, but also spill over into a new level of Oneself-Others Integrity.

The Perfect Plan is a practice that, instead of your Next (your Parent) trying to use blame or approval to get his or her way with your Now (your Child), your Parent shows respect to your Child, consulting with him or her during the planning process so that the day is designed, not only to achieve some results, but so that, when it becomes time to engage with each activity throughout the day, your Child is willing and even eager to cooperate. 

If your Parent does not show respect to your Child and design the day so that he or she can win too, then your Parent is not doing his or her job. This is an integral part of executing the Perfect Plan each day.

Daily: an actionable trim tab must big enough to make the desired impact but not too big to manage

"Each morning we are born again. What we do today matters most."


The effectiveness of shaping the course, rhythm, and outcomes of our lives consistently becomes most manageable when we approach it one day at a time.

If we were to break down our primary unit of time management into smaller increments, such as hour-by-hour, our perspective would become overly narrow, making it challenging to guide and navigate our lives in ways that can lead us to the desired journey and results.

Conversely, if we were to manage our time in larger chunks, like one or two weeks at a time, it might become too unwieldy to create an actionable plan that can be not only mastered but also easily maintained with a sense of continuity from day to day.

This doesn't mean that our daily planning and execution should exclude hourly mini-plans or reminders. It's also essential to periodically pay attention to the broader timeframes of weeks, months, years, and even decades.

By adopting the role of the pilot in our own lives and focusing on one day at a time as our primary point of influence, we create an effective foundation. This foundation then influences both the shorter timeframes (minutes and hours) and the longer ones (weeks, months, and years), allowing them to flow together in harmony.


In most cases, however, we find a balance between predictability and flexibility by dedicating a specific time each day, typically at the end of the day or in the morning, to spend about fifteen minutes reviewing the previous day and mapping out how we intend the next 24 hours to unfold.


How we typically plan (or don't plan) each day


  • No Plan: A significant number of us either seldom or never formally establish a daily plan. Instead we might have a loose notion of their tasks or desires for the day and largely go with the flow as they navigate through their daily activities.

  • To-Do Lists (fantasy planning): On the other hand, some of us regularly rely on a To-Do List to bring structure to our upcoming day. Many times, this list is essentially a modified version of the previous day's To-Do List. I like to refer to this as the "fantasy plan" because, even though we might initially entertain the fantasy of accomplishing everything on our list at the start of the day, a 10-year-old could easily recognize that we are harboring unrealistic expectations that we're bound to feel disappointed about by the time our day's over.

  • Time Blocking: This approach employs organized scheduling, often utilizing a visual calendar or alternative methods, to guarantee dedicated time slots at specific points during the day for completing the tasks we deem significant.

  • The Daily Three: In this method, we must identify and direct our attention toward the three most critical tasks or issues that need to be tackled for the day.

  • Eisenhower Matrix (or Urgent-Important Matrix): This approach promotes planning and executing our daily tasks by categorizing our available options into a four-quadrant matrix based on their level of importance and urgency.

  • Getting Things Done (or GTD): This method establishes a system for collecting, preserving, and periodically revisiting lists of potential future tasks and projects. Simultaneously, it encompasses distinct lists for ongoing projects or tasks, continually prompting the question, "What's the next action?" for each project or endeavor as well as handling items immediately if they'll take two minutes or less.

  • Pomodoro Technique: With this method work is divided into focused intervals (typically 25 minutes), followed by short breaks. This cycle enhances concentration, productivity, and mental clarity, helping individuals complete tasks more efficiently.

What's missing in all these approaches

Each of these daily planning methods (except the No-Plan approach, which embraces a short-term, improvisational "method" as we fly by the seat of our pants without the benefit of a forest-level view of our day) begins with the goal of optimizing daily productivity. Even the Pomodoro Technique, with its emphasis on breaks, adopts this approach as it aims to enhance overall task accomplishment.

None of these methods include a recognition of and focus on the primary importance of loving the processes and journeys of our day. These methods have been crafted to try to address the issue of "getting things done" (as David Allen's GTD system clearly states) as the only thing that needs to be addressed. As such, they are missing the bigger picture, especially of life itself.

These methods primarily center on attempting to fulfill the non-process targets of our "Next" without acknowledging that the utmost priority for our "Next" is to have an enjoyable, stress-free, and comfortably productive day-long journey. Our day should ideally end with a sense of achievement, not only of having loved the processes, but also having completed not just what was planned but maybe even more.

Please don't misunderstand me. I recognize the value each of these methods bring, and I've personally gained insights from them. However, they all are severely handicapped because none of them are crafted to fully encompass the paramount importance of prioritizing the enjoyment and sustainability of the process as the top result above all others.

Does this sound like a pipe dream?

Hear me out.


It's not if you're willing to consider the possibility of reorienting your your daily life inside the context of loving the journey and viewing your day-by-day life-planning options as choosing from a delicious buffet of opportunities. 


It's not if you can get a clear picture of the direction and the steps you're going to take.


It's not if you're willing to start from where you're at and take it step by step. If fact, it's very likely you're going to notice encouraging differences from the first day that you attempt to implement the Perfect Plan, regardless of how well you do it.

Reframing: more valid and effective viewpoints

Most of us go about planning and living our day within a background of beliefs and assumptions that occur to us as obvious, but aren't true. Not only are they not true, these background beliefs are disempowering, even though, on the surface, they may not seem so. Before we have a good chance of designing an effective trim tab for your life, we need to discover the lie in these background beliefs.

"I've got to survive" (fallacious background belief #1)

Phrases such as "got to," "have to," and "must" can hinder our capacity to consider a comprehensive evaluation of our life and what we genuinely desire and could achieve.

These expressions divert our attention from exploring implicit or unexamined questions:

  • "Got to" for the sake of achieving what specific outcome?

  • "Have to" to attain what particular result?

  • "Must" to obtain what?

Furthermore, what would occur if we didn't achieve what we "must" achieve?

Indeed, it's a fact that remaining alive is essential to partake in the game of life and its various sub-games, such as pursuing careers, starting families, or relishing novels. However, the notion that "I've got to survive" is not universally true, as exemplified by the reality of individuals who have chosen to end their own lives. They demonstrated that survival wasn't an obligatory outcome for them.

Furthermore, this statement lacks a clear distinction of what is meant by "survive." Once our basic sustenance needs are met, everything else becomes a matter of choice. However, when we believe "I've got to survive," we mean something more akin to "I must maintain a standard of comfort and safety far surpassing that experienced by eighteenth-century kings and emperors."


What we call "survival" means nothing about whether we stay alive or not. It's about maintaining a level of thriving that would have been impossible or an amazing luxury at previous times in history (not so many decades ago). It's also about maintaining or exceeding a level of thriving that is at least equal to a certain group of people that we compare ourselves to (most often in the same geographical area).

The belief "I've got to survive" is accurately expressed as "I've got to look good." 

Certainly, it's always possible we could die (as Steve Jobs did even though he was a multi-billionaire). The belief "I've got to survive" is not about that. What it is about, "I've got to look good," is not true.

"I've got to be comfortable" (fallacious background belief #2)

Are your choices primarily oriented toward going for what you want or, instead, is your life mostly about moving away from what you don't want?

Avoiding certain things is great. I avoid many things.


But if avoiding uncomfortableness has become the primary driver of your life, then dying is the best way to get that handled in one fell swoop. Of course, if you consider that, you'll run into the problem of wanting to avoid the pain that others may feel if you die (especially if you kill yourself). You're in a jail and you can't get out! Everywhere you look just shows you another thing you "have to avoid."

Consider a specific scenario: You could be enthusiastic about building a relationship with a specific woman (or man), but your dominant concerns or fears revolve around potential rejection, disappointment, or waning interest. When your focus leans more toward what you wish to avoid rather than what you genuinely desire, you'll probably refrain from embarking on this journey.

Another example: You might be preoccupied with what your parents might think if you decided not to attend college, even if your heart isn't set on it. An alternative life path might hold more appeal, but you enroll in college and push yourself to excel to maintain a positive image in the eyes of your parents and others, preventing their potential disappointment.

Fundamentally, for those of us whose life is primarily organized around avoidance (often euphemized as "feeling peace"), the #1 thing we're avoiding is "looking bad." 

"My life is full of things I need to do" (fallacious background belief #3)

This belief is a close cousin to the belief, "I've got to survive." The phrase "need to" is equivalent in meaning to the phrases "got to," "have to," and "must" that we examined above. 

When most of us use the phrase "need to," we generally do not mean that if we want to get or maintain X, then doing Y will be either definitive or supportive in X happening. 

Consider the belief, "I need to keep my job." Yes, you can probably demonstrate that keeping your job could be instrumental in you getting and maintaining other things you want to continue as residing in your mortgaged home. And then continuing to live in your mortgaged home could be instrumental in supporting other things you want, and so on. But there could be other ways to stay in that house. Or other places to live in the city. Or other cities to live in your country. Or other countries to live in the world. 

The word "need to" in the sense of "this is the only way" is only true within a myopic view of the options that almost everyone has in their life.

Bottom line: if you live your life within the context of loving the journey and playing the games you love to play, then all your "needs to" will occur as your "wants to."

If you loved your job so much you'd even pay others to let you do it, even though your job provided the means by which you paid your mortgage, the belief "I need to keep my job" would not be true in the same sense that most people would have that belief. Your belief would be more like, "My job is currently one great expression of me doing things that I love to do and playing the games I like to play."

"Each day I have an unlimited buffet of great things to choose from" (veracious belief #1)

Perhaps some us are addicted to living inside the beliefs, "I've got to do this, I've got to do that," so that our days are most often filled with "just handling the necessities," because even having our eyes half open to the buffet of our life options would not only overwhelm us with the sense of burden of "having to make the right choices," as well as confront us with the fear of looking bad if we considered some of our more attractive buffet options.

The sensation and conviction that our daily decisions are confined to "necessities" are reinforced by the tendency many of us have developed. This includes not having time and financial reserves and restricting ourselves to numerous one-way paths. These factors collectively foster a narrow viewpoint, suggesting that our life offers only a limited array of choices.

Yes, there are just 168 hours in each week and 1440 minutes in each day. This is the tapestry upon which we get to design and play out our life. Yes, for each one activity or task that we take on, there are an uncountable number of activities or tasks that we have to not choose to do in that "time slot." 

At its core, the outcome that serves as the foundation for all other achievements is the genuine appreciation of the day-to-day, hour-to-hour, and minute-to-minute journey.

Let's recognize and celebrate the idea that when we prioritize the process result of each day (to be enjoyable and maintainable) above any specific non-process results we accomplish, it's akin to not over filling our daily plate from the available buffet of juicy options. This approach ensures that we can relish (and often finish) everything on our plate in a healthy, effortless, and enjoyable manner.

The Perfect Plan and how it's built each day (an example and the template)


Success is in the specifics and the nectar's in the nuances

Taking it from the top, it can be quite simple. 

  1. Go to the bottom sheet tab within the Google Sheets workspace and create a duplicate of the template. Rename this duplicate with the current date (e.g., "230920").

  2. In cell E1, input the start time for your planned day's activities and tasks.

  3. In cell F1, input the end time for your planned day's activities and tasks.

  4. Please take note that the total available minutes for your day's activities and tasks will be automatically computed and displayed in cell D1.

  5. In column A, begin by describing each activity or task you intend to engage in for the day in column A, row after row.

  6. Then, in column B, for each activity/task in column B, double-checking to ensure you're underpromising for that particular activity/task, input the estimated number of minutes needed to finish the activity/task in the corresponding row.

  7. Keep in mind that each entry in column B will trigger an update in cell D2, indicating the remaining available minutes for additional activities or tasks you may wish to include in your day.

  8. Continue entering activities in column A and their estimated completion times in column B, row by row, until the remaining minutes displayed in cell D2 are close to zero. This signifies the completion of your Perfect Plan for the day.

Your own copy

Although we've just started to explore the nuances and power of the Perfect Plan, if you like, you can now download your own copy (either in Google Sheets or Excel).

The lead horse and the wheel horses

The job of the lead horse in the Perfect Plan ensures that you under promise for each activity/task in your day as well as provide for extra buffer time should you need it. To implement the fundamental shift in you life of prioritizing the daily process over any non-process results which are accomplished inside of those daily processes, breaking the habit over promising and not planning buffer time is key.

This fundamental shift won't be complete, however, without the help of the wheel horses in the Perfect Plan. Their jobs will become apparent as we flesh out the guidelines for each day's planning.

The guidelines

  1. Check you calendar, reminder list, and buffet list

  2. Under promise

  3. Enter a task/activity for sundry time (change in chart images)

  4. Planning what NOT to do can be a choice of courage

  5. Planning for tasks which may require more time than available

  6. Ensure Now-Next Integrity

  7. Re-plan if appropriate

  8. Stop adding tasks before the value in D2 goes negative

  9. Enter status of tasks as completed in column C

  10. Loving the journey and process always trumps getting results

#0) Planning first or planning last? (guidelines for each day's planning)

"Failing to plan is planning to fail."

—Alan Lakein

As a policy to put in place, you should plan your day at its onset or toward the end of the day before the day you're planning for. This aspect of planning isn't included in the Perfect Plan's daily reminder list because, once set, it's not something you're likely to forget or modify.


While various elements may influence what timing suits you best, your natural inclination as either a morning lark or night owl will likely be the determining factor. It's crucial to choose a time for your daily planning when you feel most resourceful.

#1) Check your calendar, reminder list, and buffet list (guidelines for each day's planning)

Hey, stop!


Even before you start to check your various lists, whether they reside in your head or elsewhere, you need to ensure that you are starting from where you are. This means that you're clear of any "shoulds," "I'm behind on things," or "haves to." 

One way to bring yourself to the truth is to step into an imaginary world.


Picture yourself as a completely new version, disconnected from any past iterations of yourself—even the person you were just a minute ago. While you retain the memories, thoughts, and experiences of those past selves, you understand that you are now a different entity. You're also cognizant that people who knew those previous selves may still view you as they viewed those selves. In addition, you recognize that the already existing mental frameworks of those selves remain part of the mental landscape of this new life you're starting.

Beginning with this mindset of a new day and a renewed life, you might notice that some of the thought patterns of your inherited mental landscape, such as invalid "shoulds," "thinking you're behind on things," and "haves to," will no longer apply.

Here are some thoughts of others that express this idea of "starting with a clean slate." 

"The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence;

the past is a place of learning, not a place of living."

—Roy T. Bennett

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."

—Søren Kierkegaard

"The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it."

—Thomas S. Monson

From this standpoint of clarity, starting with a clean slate, let's examine these lists to shape the day ahead.

The lists

Good lists serve the purpose of being secure reservoirs for remembering and organizing the tasks, practices, projects, and activities that you think either are or could be components for the types of games and self-expression that turn you on.

To the extent that you're using the "no plan" approach to your life, therein flying by the seat of your pants and rolling with the punches, lists are mostly superfluous. You'll just be relying on responding to what immediately occurs as attractive or pressing in the moment, without the benefit of longer term views of how you want the games in your life to play out. 

Once you move past the "no plan" approach to life, good lists become essential in helping to make better choices for filling up your daily plate from the amazing buffet of options.

Nevertheless, one reason the pull toward the "no plan" and "no list" approach is strong is that, by remaining unaware of a larger buffet of options, we can avoid a feeling of overwhelm and indecisiveness associated with making difficult choices or not knowing how to choose the best.

Two reality-based tools of awareness can remove these potential costs. 

  • Life is not about survival. It's about having fun playing games which allow us to enjoy the ways in which we love to express ourselves and have the potential to give us the types of accomplishment that are meaningful to us.

  • In the unlimited buffet of options of tasks and activities that could theoretically be available to include in our daily life design, of which we can, even with good systems in place, only consciously consider a few hundred for a given day, we need to focus on being a satisficer (going with "good enough") instead of a maximizer (seeking "perfection"). Compare the process to having 238 delicious, variously nutritious, buffet dishes from which to fill our plate in order to eat an enjoyable, healthy meal. If we tried to maximum the absolute best selection of the six dishes we could put on our plate, not only would we not likely enjoy our meal, still worrying about whether we could have chosen better than we did, but we might have to rush through our meal having taken so much time to make sure we selected the best six dishes in the right quantity of each.

I use five (and sometimes four) lists to create my Perfect Plan each day

  1. The previous day's Perfect Plan

  2. Short-term paper sheet list

  3. Google Calendar

  4. Today's list 

  5. Buffet lists (sometimes)

1. As I initiate my Perfect Plan, I create a fresh sheet in my Google Sheets workspace. The process begins by making a copy of the previous day's plan. I then rename this duplicate to reflect today's date, ensuring clear organization. I position this new sheet to the left-most side, preceding the tabs that house the plans of earlier days. This systematic arrangement provides easy and quick access to the most current plan. The next step involves erasing the majority of the items from the past day, maintaining a clean slate for today. While doing this, I make a mental or physical note of any task or item that should be carried forward or retained as part of today’s agenda, ensuring that no critical tasks are overlooked or dropped out in the fresh plan.

2. In this digital era, I occasionally revert to the traditional pen and paper method. I begin my day with an empty, lined sheet of paper and a pen conveniently placed on my desk. This list serves as a swift, accessible notepad for immediate thoughts or tasks I wish to address or transfer by day's end, most likely into Todoist or one of the various buffet lists. This method is exclusively for these kinds of notes, ensuring their integration into my daily tasks and responsibilities. Here are some examples.

  • If someone didn't keep a phone appointment, I jot that down to ensure I follow up on it. 

  • If I have an idea I want to remember to explore later.

  • If I think of something to order online.

  • If someone calls me and I tell them I'll need to get back to them later.

  • If I tell a client that I will email them a link to my website.

  • If I think of something I forgot to do and I want to get it back in the queue.

3. For tasks or events that are time-specific, time-blocked, and involve others—most of which recur—I utilize Google Calendar. This includes both in-person appointments and more commonly, telephone or Zoom conversations. Only activities that are essential to be conducted at a particular time are scheduled on this calendar. All other tasks and events, not bound by a specific time, are managed on my other lists.

4. I employ for its adeptness at organizing and presenting tasks or reminders by date and even by time of day, both singular and recurring. Other notable competitors in this realm include Wunderlist, Microsoft To Do, Evernote, and Asana. In the formulation of my Perfect Plan, after accounting for tasks and activities from lists 1, 2, and 3, I proceed to review the items slated for today in Todoist. Throughout the construction of my Perfect Plan, each task is meticulously managed. I mark each item as complete, reschedule it for another specific day, or set it to reoccur on the next predetermined date, ensuring today's bucket is consistently emptied as part of the Perfect Plan process.

5. Buffet Lists: Known as Someday/Maybe lists in David Allen's GTD methodology, these lists act as pools of potential tasks, events, activities, practices, projects, or goals that pique my interest. Even while these items hold attraction for me, I have not made a commitment to allocate any time or resources to them presently. Given the substantial number of items, potentially over a thousand for someone like me, I organize these into three distinct buffet lists.

  • Fortnightly List: Every two weeks, I refer to this list. It holds a select number of items that I consider crucial to revisit every 14 days.

  • Quarterly Buffet: This list, reviewed every three months, typically holds a more extensive array of selections.

  • Yearly Buffet List: This list encompasses hundreds of items that I may never undertake or don't foresee allocating resources to until an undefined future time.

While creating my Perfect Plan, I access the relevant buffet list (fortnightly, quarterly, or yearly) based on the recurring triggers established in Todoist. Despite these scheduled reviews, these lists remain dynamic, allowing for additions or updates in the daily processes of my life. I utilize another app,, to maintain and manage these extensive lists seamlessly.

#2) Under promise (guidelines for each day's planning)

In a world where looking good (to others and therefore also to ourselves) has become attached to how much we get done or how efficient we are or how busy we are, it's no wonder that we predictably underestimate how long it's likely to take to get various tasks or activities done. It's a consistent type of self-deception that's so obvious if we only take a moment to examine our planning behavior, yet, without conscious, directed intention, this pattern of self-deception will continue indefinitely. This behavior is officially recognized by the studies that document the cognitive biases called the planning fallacy and the optimism bias.

When I initially began the process of meticulously evaluating the likely time required to finish each task and activity planned for my day, ensuring they would align with the available time, I was faced with the unsettling belief, "I should be able to accomplish more than this." Despite reality consistently proving this notion wrong throughout my life before undertaking this stringent process, I had managed to uphold my ego by overlooking this blatant fact that had been staring me in the face for decades.

As a corollary to the idea expressed by Upton Sinclair, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it," we could say "It is difficult to get ourselves to understand something that our ego depends us not understanding it."

Choosing to continuously face reality and honestly assess the probable time a task or activity would take marked a choice of courage for me. Additionally, appending a little extra time (five or ten minutes) to my estimates enabled me to assert that I was under-promising, further exemplifying my commitment to truthfulness and accuracy in planning.

#3) Enter a task/activity for sundry time (guidelines for each day's planning)

***temporary note: the naming for "buffer time" in the charts above will be changed to "sundry time"**

The term "sundry" is used to refer to various items not significant enough to be mentioned individually. The decision of how detailed your task/activity list needs to be will vary from person to person. For instance, most people wouldn't find it necessary to allot a specific task line for restroom breaks, despite it consuming time in our day. On the other hand, it might be useful for some individuals, but not for everyone, to designate a certain number of minutes for meal preparation and consumption within the planned timeframe. For some, "eating" may warrant its own entry in the day’s planning, while for others, it will be encompassed in the sundry, catch-all entry.

It's crucial to determine which tasks or activities are classified as sundry and which warrant individual time allocations on the Perfect Plan sheet.

For example the number of minutes set aside each day for "Sundry time" might be as few at 15 and as many as 120 minutes (say if you included your snack and meal times).

#4) Planning what NOT to do can be a choice of courage (guidelines for each day's planning)

Particularly when initially adapting to the Perfect Plan approach, it often takes courage to under-promise and gain clarity on what will not be included in your plan for the day.

Various tasks or activities from your different lists might beckon you with thoughts such as, "I’ve postponed this repeatedly," "Others will be upset with me if I don’t complete this today," or "It feels like I'll never accomplish everything I want and need to do."

In the past, you have consistently ignored the undeniable fact that, like everyone else, you have only 168 hours each week and 1440 minutes each day. This limitation has always existed and always will. Tasks will take the time they require. Of course, you can enhance your efficiency, improve scheduling, delegate tasks, or invest in time-saving devices. While these strategies are valuable, they don’t tackle the root of the issue. The core problem has been the implicit design of your life around the notion that results should be your main focus. The belief that more achievements are inherently better and a reflection of your worth has led to the struggle of cramming countless tasks and activities into your day.

Holding a mindset that places results above the journey leads to a persistently narrow view. This outlook yields a life journey and processes that fall short of having a life that you love. Despite years of adherence to this approach and somehow bouncing back from daily disruptions born from life's mismanagement, it's fundamentally unsustainable. This tactic lacks the essential element of Now-Next Integrity, highlighting the need for a more balanced, holistic approach to life and tasks.

Anytime you become aware of those automatic thoughts and emotions trying to steer you away from the Perfect Plan process, guide yourself through the four steps of choosing courage, focusing especially on the first two. For instance, take a deep breath into your belly. Then, shout out loudly and slowly in a goofy, exaggerated tone, "Holy moly and jeepers weepers, I am so scared that if I don't get this done today they're going to be upset with me!" Afterward, give yourself a pat on the back for choosing the courage to continue setting up your day wisely using the Perfect Plan.

#5) Planning for tasks which may require more time than available (guidelines for each day's planning)

Some tasks or activities may require more than a specified number of minutes or certainly more than we have time available to allocate in the current day.

If a task has a 5-10% chance of taking more time than you can happily allocate in the current day, then, in order to ensure you've created a prudent plan for the day, that task will be clearly marked as an EOF task (Either the task is finished Or the number of minutes allocated for the task for the day is used up, whichever comes First).

Here's an example of a task/project where the time required is rather indefinite. You've got a pretty serious problem with a computer app you rely on daily. You're getting by day by day, but it makes sense to solve the problem, rather than incur the daily costs that it causes. How long will that take? You're not sure. If you call a service rep, how much wait time might there be? Will it be a simple problem for the service rep or will they hand you off to a senior adviser after you spend 47 unsuccessful minutes with them trying to troubleshoot the problem? The total time needed to address this issue (even assuming it's addressable) might be as little as 30 minutes and could run into several hours.

It will be impossible to plan your days with any level of predictability if you don't build in a contingency clause for tasks that may run over the allotted time (EOF tasks).

This requires that you develop some facility between the distinctions of finished and complete. Being able to plan and carry out the various tasks, activities, practices, and projects of your life both easily and effectively will require you develop the muscle of being able to be complete with something without necessarily being finished with it.


***Current end point***

From all the angles

Do you have enough time?

Don't you date celebrate that result

Notes to myself

fix to Sundry

how to read this

how to execute the day

real world examples (taxes)

"Perfect Plan" name

two minutes


off-label use

Perfect Plan equivalent (less structure later)

an end to in order 

boundaries with others

starting from the top

mood issue

"already been paid"

addicted to the drama

push out or will be pushed in

Excel link






David Wheeler, PhD

Frank Jorgensen

Kenneth Wright 

Michael Buehrle (Arizona)

Nick Kogiones

Wayne Samms

bottom of page