In my last post I talked about getting time back on your side and that we need to think about time differently. With that said, we really need to focus on prioritizing our time and planning it out, otherwise it gets spent in ways that we can’t control. There are always going to be things that come up last minute and demand our attention, but it’s our job as keepers of our time to be able to prioritize so we can say no to things that are pure distractions. In order to prioritize our time, we need to figure out what’s most important to us, which then translates into our goals for the next week, month, and year. Thinking back from our longer term goals, it’s the daily habits and actions that ultimately create the reality we strive for.
My Framework for Keeping Time
I found that the following method really works well for me. I started this method after we moved to Hawaii and I was waking up at 3am and starting my work day at 4am. It really helped me to think about time and budget it so that I was getting all the things I want to done I was able to do it to go out exploring with my wife. During the past year, I was able to take advantage of all of my time and grew in many ways; personally, professionally, spiritually, and also read 25 books this year. The significance of the last achievement was that to this point, I believe I’ve only read four books in a single year. It was really important for me to continue learning and I believe there’s a lot more on the horizon for my career goals.
1. Stack The Calendar
Basically what I do is I treat my calendar as the source of all truth for how I spend my time. The first step is to set a day of the week where you’re going to review your previous week and plan out your next week. For me this is on Sunday. Sunday is a day for me to relax, spend time with family, read, write and reset.
As I reset, I plan out individual blocks of time on my calendar for all my work at Headway, any startup projects we have going on through Headway Ventures, any personal time (workout, reading, time family & friends, etc). This really gives me a lot of comfort in knowing that anything I have to do this week is on this calendar. It’s also a reminder for me on Sunday to schedule time with friends so that I can plan for it because many times it’s so busy and all of a sudden we have free time and no one’s available. When everyone has busy lives, it’s really difficult to coordinate schedules, so I try my best to plan it ahead of time and get it on my calendar.
This also gives me the ability to push back and say no when distractions arise or meetings start going over the planned time.
2. X expands to fill Y
Parkinson’s Law explains this phenomena that we’ve all experienced. If you plan a meeting for 60 minutes, it’ll take 60 minutes to achieve everything you wanted to, but if you plan it for only 20 minutes, the entire group is more focused and still able to cover everything you would’ve in 60.
Parkinson’s Law states:
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
This not only comes into play for meetings and other time-planned events, but deadlines. Procrastination is a disease that we cause ourselves by leaving too much time to complete a given task. We can streamline and create more freedom by allowing us less time to complete it adequately.
3. Plan a buffer into your day
When we’re stressed out, we’re not happy. If we want to maximize our happiness day to day and truly increase our average happiness quotient, we need to be keepers of our time. We can make everyday feel like Saturday.
Since I moved back from Hawaii in November, I continued waking up early. This really gives me a jump on the day it allows me to control it. It allows me to spend more time on the things that may take a bit longer than planned. It also allows me to address any last minute issues that come up towards the end of the day. For this reason, I typically plan my investment time in the afternoons. At Headway, this is time we spend reading, learning, working on an internal or passion project, contributing to open source projects, or writing documentation of our processes. Being able to be more flexible in the afternoon helps me keep my stress level down and make sure I still get everything done that I intended to.
4. Be Consistent and Develop your own rhythm & pace
Another big part about being able to plan your time is being consistent. I believe being consistent is one of the most undervalued assets. In football it was huge. You had to be consistent so your team and coaches knew that they could count on you. If you only did things right 20% of the time and you were in a lull the rest of the time, it was hard to trust that you’d get your job done.
Success is not found in your single best, but in the increase of your average.
Success is created by what you do in your daily habits. By planning out your entire day and deciding exactly where your time goes, you can have health, wealth, love and happiness.
It’s very important to note that there is a huge difference between choosing and deciding. When you are able to decide, you are in charge of where your time goes, when you have to choose, it is typically a win-lose situation depending which ‘thing’ you pick.
I’m super interested in the other ways that people manage and plan their time, so if you have anything that works well for you, I’d love to hear more about it and how you do it.