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 a Nightmare Reset My Priorities (& What “Productivity” Really Is)

I died this morning.

And yet… I didn’t.

The last thing I remember was looking up in the sky and seeing three missiles coming through the clouds. They were like solid rocket boosters but much bigger. I knew they were ICBMs. Yes, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, the kind they use in Nuclear War. One headed high over me, one headed far to the south of me, and one came closer and closer.

The closest one was tumbling haphazardly in the sky and went behind some nearby trees. Then, a blinding flash. It’s hard to describe what I felt after that. It was like a warm rain or the feeling of a blow dryer against your skin. It was so quick, and then?


Well, not precisely. While I could perceive nothing around me, I could still feel me. I was still there, but my body had been wiped away.

I touched my left arm.

Wait a minute. How could I feel my arm if I’d been annihilated? I quickly realized it wasn’t a physical arm I was touching. This was my astral body’s arm. Some might call it my “energy body” or “light body”, but no matter what label you decide to place on it, I was grateful that I could feel that I still had some kind of substance, some energy. And in some instant later, I was in a place that felt perfectly peaceful and safe. In fact, it felt safer than “safe”, and I knew everything would be OK.

Before all this, I had been sitting at a picnic bench, staring at a strange tree. At the end of the branches were strange heads with large mouths like fish. One head started glowing, and instinctively I knew this was a bad thing. I tried to stop it with my mind, and that worked… but only at first. Then another one started glowing, and it would not relent.

And then I saw the missiles, and that’s about where we came in.

A Gift

If you haven’t gathered by now, the above experience happened to me in a dream recently; and, like most dreams, I thought it was perfectly real at the time. I experienced a brief pain, and thought that my time on this planet was over. After I died, appeared in the safe void that I described above. I had the impression that it was a temporary place like a waiting area and that soon others would come to meet me. I’m not sure why I didn’t see the typical white tunnel that is often described (perhaps because I wasn’t really dying), but while I was in this temporary waiting area, I started to do some serious reflection on my life.

Ever the optimist, I thought how it wasn’t so bad to be blown away by such a large missile. There was only a brief pain, and then it was very peaceful. I thought, “Certainly, there are worse ways to die, right?” And on this side of the mirror, I somehow knew that it was all working out for the highest good of all. I didn’t feel like I have to second guess myself like I did when I was alive.

All of this happened yesterday morning. After I woke up, I almost felt like I’d been given a second chance. I had received a taste of my own mortality, even if it was only an extremely mild taste.

I’ve thought about the dream on and off since then; and I realized that the dream has given me a newfound clarity on how I look at time itself. This dream was a beautiful gift, and one result was that I now have new insight on why being “productive” is so important to me.

The Idea of Being “Productive”

When I thought I had died, I did something that you would probably do, too. I thought about all of the things I would never have the chance to do, all of the places I’d never be able to see, and all of the incredible people who I would never be able to get to know. I thought about all of the things I still wanted to do, things like walking atop the massive glaciers in Iceland or photographing (and subsequently hugging) a massive Baobab tree in South Africa.

I thought about all of my opportunities lost.

Wouldn’t you?

The whole experience really drove home for me how scarce time is in our lives. And I realized that this is the single most profound reason why the idea of being productive is so important to me. Because it’s about wisdom. And the way the word “productivity” is used as a buzzword these days makes me concerned that its true meaning is going to get watered down. As a word, I’m starting to think it’s being overused, and that concerns me.


Because, at its most pure, “productivity” is just about being smart with your most finite resource: your time. That’s all. No bells and whistles. No palm trees are involved, and it certainly doesn’t take 4 hours to understand. Being a productive person just means making the stuff you want to make, completing the stuff you want to complete, and also having a life alongside that. (That third part is important.) Productivity is your ability to intelligently, and sanely, manage your time. It’s about balance. That’s all.

What would your life look like if you became twice as productive? Or, said in another way, what would the rest of your month look like if you actually got ahead of where you think you need to be? Would you have more time to travel? Is it possible that you would have more opportunities to experience the adventures that your heart longs for?

Honestly, you don’t have to be a ninja to become smart about this. And the smarter and more courageous you are about how you use your time, the better things can get. Remember, everyone gets 24 hours tomorrow, but not everyone has the same number of years left.

What would you do if you realized that you died yesterday, and this whole day you’ve been inside a dream?

Thankfully, that’s not the case… yet.
So, what are you going to do with the time you have left?