How to Plan Intuitively to Travel, Create, & Work Effortlessly and Abundantly

How spontaneous are you in your life? Do you follow your schedule religiously or do you find yourself working right up to the last minute of a deadline? Have you found a happy medium between these two extremes?

In this article I’m going to share with you a concept that allows you to harness the natural cycles of your brain to the greatest effect in both work and when travelling.

You see, when I travel I seldom plan out exactly what I’m going to do on a certain day. Instead, I review my options before I set out and allow time and space for events to flow together organically and spontaneously. Granted, some of your travel commitments may have firm attachments to certain points in time and space, but acting merely on intuition is incredibly worth it whenever possible. In fact, I find that when I wait to plan a given day until the night before, I’m much more sensitive to how the day is going to go; and I’m more in tune with what my needs will be on the upcoming day.

Travelling is a creative act, and your ability to jump into a creative state ebbs and flows throughout the day. In my experience, there is much magic to be found when we are conscious of those changes; and when done consciously, this kind of flexibility allows moments to snap together like magnets.

So how exactly does this apply to work? I’ll ‘splain.

The Intuitive Planning Approach

Lately, I’ve realized that I’ve approached doing work this way for a while now. Instead of stating in big red letters that I’m going to write a rough draft of a given article on Monday or bust, I find that I work better when I have a general idea of what I need to accomplish by a certain day and then allow myself to be drawn to the tasks to complete that goal in its own perfect time.

For the purposes of this article I’m going to call this approach “intuitive planning”, because, while it’s still technically a form of planning, it allows your intuition to have a say in what you should be doing at a given moment. People who use David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” system (as I do) may recognize that the GTD “Next Actions” list can be used exactly this way because it’s a list of shorter tasks that can easily fit into the gaps between larger projects.

We can expand on that though. And as in both work and travel, defining the next physical action you need to take to achieve your goal is immensely helpful and can often give you clarity if you feel stuck. But if you already know what you’re going to do (and when it needs to be done) and you have some freedom over the order and speed at which the steps are completed, then you can experiment with the Intuitive Planning model.

For instance, I’m currently writing this sentence at 00.57, which is well past midnight. I didn’t even plan to write an article tonight; but inspiration struck me, and I had the time flexibility to act on it. By listening to my intuition and following it, this article was allowed space to manifest. Simply put, the Intuitive Planning approach has completely changed how I view my working time as well as my travel time. (Although you could say I’m “on the job” whenever I’m travelling, but you know what I mean.)

This model works best for me on a week by week basis. For instance, if I’m working on a big article about McWay Falls, I know that I have a few dozen photos to crop, color-correct, name, export, upload to the Byteful Gallery, and resize for the article. Then I need to outline the article, write it, proofread it, categorize it, and finally set the article to be posted in the wee hours of the morning. This whole process involves over 10 major steps with plenty of tiny steps in between; but because I understand the steps that it involves, I can set small milestones to let me know if I’m on track. (For instance, I like to have the photos done by Sunday night and a rough draft of the article done on Monday). Yet if I really get on a roll, I may have the article rough draft done by the end of Sunday. It all depends on my level of inspiration and energy level. The key here is really listening to myself and my mental state.

Inspiration & Expectation

Let me be clear here. I’m not saying you should wait for inspiration to get you started on your work. A wise man once said that inspiration must find you working; and in my experience, I think that’s putting it lightly.

There’s no Inspiration Faerie that’s going to come down and give you tons of energy. Your will and your will alone must start it. However, if you change your attitude to be open to inspiration sneaking up on you, it’s far more likely to.

Have you ever noticed that it’s those times when you don’t feel pressured and boxed in, that some of your most inspired ideas come through? In my experience, inspired ideas are more likely to come through because expectations cause a constriction in the mind. By “forcing” yourself to do a specific thing at a certain time, you will naturally feel limited and probably stressed out, too.

Don’t get me wrong. This certainly isn’t always a bad thing. Indeed, without that kind of discipline, we would not complete many things that legitimately need to be done. Yet, whenever possible, creating from a place of non-expectation is much more enjoyable experience for me, and I find more original ideas come when I’m not painstakingly looking for them. What about you?

How to Create the Flow for Yourself

The real trick here (which is a skill that can be developed) is the ability to consciously decide what you’re going to focus on and think about. I learned an important lesson about this in my teen years when I would push myself to the limit for school projects, and I continued to refine my approach when I was in college.

While it may come as an incredible shock to you, I really disliked being forced to do a project I didn’t enjoy, and I experienced a lot of stress in having to push myself to complete such a project on time. If I didn’t really care about the end goal of the project, it didn’t spur me to action. At all. In fact, I would have a lot of trouble “getting into the groove” of it. Therefore, I had to create that flow for myself. (I can’t not state the importance of this enough.)

I would often experience false starts and slow progress in the beginning, so I’m not saying this is easy. Sometimes it can be very difficult. Sometimes you may feel as though you don’t even know where to start. Trust me, I’ve been there. But in those situations, I tried to take away as much complexity as I could and simply took the most logical first step. Keeping it simple is a very important tip to remember whenever you get stuck.

Discipline is what allows us to take those first few steps. But I’ve found that once I get going, less and less discipline is required because I’ve created the groove that I was looking for. And by creating it for myself, I make it easier to get back to that place of creativity whenever I want.

Choose your Focus & Make Alpha Waves

Remember, this all hinges on you being able to consciously decide what you’re going to focus on. You must choose where to place your focus. Will you focus on the part of your brain that is worried about failing or the part that simply relishes in the act of creation itself? Have you ever noticed that when you’re really in the flow of creating (whether it be writing, reading, painting, or designing) that you completely lose track of time?

This is because a different part of your brain is engaged. When you feel truly immersed in your work, your brain is actually at a different frequency than when you’re walking around during the day. The brain is in beta frequency during most of its waking hours, but when you’re really in the flow, you enter alpha brain frequency. These alpha waves allow distractions to fall away and allow a much greater depth of focus. For instance, I’m in an alpha state right now as I write this. How do I know? Because the words keep flowing out of me, effortlessly.

Things certainly weren’t always this way. To be completely honest, there was a time when I absolutely dreaded writing; but the more I practiced, the more I learned about what it felt like to be in this state. I gained a better understanding of how my own brain worked, and so can you.

In some ways, it’s like riding a bike. When you first rode a bike, you had no hope of balancing without training wheels, right? But in time, you refined your sense of balance, and soon you didn’t even need the training wheels.

Intuitive Planning: Create Abundantly!

As I said before, your ability to jump into a creative state ebbs and flows throughout the day, and “intuitive planning” is merely intelligently harnessing this quality of the human brain in the most intelligent way possible. To really put all of this in a nutshell, when you give yourself the freedom to create in the order in which your mind wants to create, your creative process can flow much more effortlessly and with much less stress. And if the time never seems right and begins to run short, you can always revert back to a more logical discipline-based approach.

Remember, you are not your brain. You are also not your thoughts. Realize that your mind is a wonderfully complex and dynamic tool; but it is still a tool, and when you use this tool with greater skill, you can create more abundantly and more meaningfully.

And fewer things are more enjoyable or more rewarding than that.

How an Open Social Profile will Ruin Your REAL Social Life

Am I crazy or is setting your social networking profile visibility to “Everyone” an exceptionally bad idea?

With all media attention around privacy lately, why do some people continue to set their profiles to “Everyone” instead of “Only Friends”?

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’ve apparently not looked in your privacy settings of your favorite social networking site lately. Basically, setting your profile’s privacy settings to “Everyone” means that anyone can read your profile or send you a private message. Anyone… on the Entire Planet. Now, this doesn’t mean social networking sites aren’t useful to travellers (and stationary people alike) when used properly. And sure, the word “Everyone” includes lots of interesting or attractive people, but it also includes spammers, the mafia, sociopaths, etc. (provided that they have internet access obviously)

Think about it. Would you leave your mailing address on the street for anyone to discover? No? So why would you set your profile to “everyone”? Because when you do that, it’s the same as leaving the web address to your profile lying around on the web. In fact, it can be more dangerous since anyone from anywhere at any time can access it.

Why have a Hyper-Open Profile?

You’ve probably met people who do this though. You may even be one of them. Now since not everyone understands privacy settings, not everyone has a real stance on this issue since you need to actually understand it to have an opinion; but I’m sure you’re probably familiar with the justification for this. “I just want to be available and so people can reach me”, you’ve probably heard.

Well, here’s a News Flash for you: a social networking site isn’t exactly an efficient way to contact someone, especially while travelling. I mean, have you ever tried to get ahold of someone in an emergency through a social networking site? Why not?

Examples of effective ways to contact someone:

  • Telephone
  • Email (depending on the person)
  • Even postal mail!

Yes, even snail mail is more effective at getting someone’s attention than sending them yet another message in yet another inbox on yet another account on yet another website that they may not have even logged onto for weeks. (And yes, astute readers may point out that some people categorize Twitter as a social networking site, but a social networking site it is definitely not. Far more than that, Twitter is becoming a replacement for email itself and is a full-fledged communication medium now, just ask the New York Times. Twitter is the exception in so called “social networking” sites because it has transcended that and become a communication medium. Needless to say this is extremely rare.)

So ask yourself: are those who choose to put their profiles in a state of hyper-openness on social networking sites (which will continue to remain nameless) truly desiring to be more communicative and connected? Or could there be something more complex at play here?

This Hidden Desire

Is it possible that what these hyper-open people actually want is to increase the chances that they’ll make new, meaningful friendships that they otherwise wouldn’t have made?

I find it ironic that in an ever-more-connected-world people complain of loneliness more and more. And I wouldn’t be surprised if people who purposefully and deliberately leave their social networking profiles set to a hyper-open status harbor a secret desire for a renewed social life. (Although since such people don’t usually consciously realize what their deepest motivations may be, you’re probably not going to convince a hyper-open person that they’re motivations go a bit deeper than being “accessible”.)

Where does the time go?

The irony of this is that, despite the extra time and energy that it requires to manage a hyper-open online profile, it’s actually quite unlikely that a close friendship will form because of a social networking site. Too often these social networks come with the promise of a more meaningful experience on the web; but like many industries, they overpromise and underdeliver, swallowed-up in the ocean of their own hype, leaving their users to drown in a sea of unproductive wall-related tasks.

Being hyper-open with your profile on any one of these sites results in a much busier email inbox. And honestly, who has time to adequately maintain their existing friendships and connections if they’re so focused on managing all the new connections coming in? This line can be a very tricky line to draw between you and the world, but where you draw this line says a lot about how you value your own time, as well as the time of those around you.

Put simply, if you want balance in your social interactions, you need to be fair to your existing friends as well as potential ones, and social networking sites too often get in the way of maintaining that balance. Not to mention that the internet is usually used in a very low-bandwidth way to communicate with someone. (Learn how to leverage both High-bandwidth and Low-Bandwidth communication in the article entitled “Why Long Distance Friendships Always Fade”.)

Ask Yourself This

So before you decide to go hyper-open and ultra-reachable through your myface profile (you know what I mean), ask yourself this:

“If someone actually wants to get ahold of me for something that’s actually important, is this really the best way for them to contact me, or have I overlooked some more logical alternatives?”

Am I crazy, or isn’t there a better way to communicate with people?