Throughout several posts now, I’ve made it a point to highlight the importance of time. I honestly can’t underscore it enough, so it only seems right to dedicate a full post towards taking control of our scarcest and most precious resource…
In sports, we have the benefit of a much shorter duration of time to underline how critical every play is, and how our actions during each second of that play can make the difference between victory and defeat.
As a result, our coaches and leaders on the field focus on getting the team mentally prepared before and after each play, and have clock management at the forefront of their minds. But what about after the game?
Off the field, the concept of time starts to lose its potency. We get sucked into distractions and blindly conform to the standard 9 to 5 workday. Before we know it, bedtime rolls around only to find us scratching our head as to what we accomplished today…
While I am not advocating we live our lives in a constant two-minute drill, I am challenging us to own the time we have – to make it our own.
The big question is, who do you want managing your time and thereby your life? Yourself or everyone else?
It is always up to us to choose to either live by our own design, or in a constant reaction mode as things and other people’s priorities happen to us.
Managing one’s time as a whole is no easy task. It’s one that I am continually working on, and have yet to master.
It’s a delicate balance between what feels like micromanaging yourself vs. leaving your days up to the whim of whatever comes up. In my opinion, neither is the answer. The solution is understanding and embracing the tension between the two, and what that means for your life at any given time.
To date, I’ve only ever managed my work life. I know what I need to do when I wake up, leading up to and during my commute, and then I let my work calendar take over when I arrive at the office. Pretty standard really… it works… I think?
Yet too many times I find myself at the end of the day questioning what I accomplished… Did I make a difference? A positive impact for my family? My client? My firm? Anyone?
Then there is the time when I’m not at work – when I don’t have a calendar to guide my day. I’m often left wondering what to do with all the other time.
Yes, it seems like an odd problem to have – having time and not knowing what to do with it…
Unfortunately, for me having that idle time leads to anxiety. I’m not able to relax and at times begin to feel guilty about what I could be doing and how I could be productive.
The result becomes spending time thinking about time and therefore wasting time. Ugh! What to do?
For me, it is starting down a new road of expanding my planned time outside of just work hours and into the weekends. Not just planning the things I need to do, but also planning the time and giving myself permission to just be.
We must be intentional about planning our priorities.
What is Your Ideal Week?
During my personal development journey, I’ve heard about the idea of creating your ideal day / week. Basically starting with an empty calendar and planning out when you will work on your top priorities and highest value to-dos across all areas of your life. It allows you to schedule your critical activities first before all of the external pressures of life start to take up the rest of your time.
It sounds so novel, however how many of us really take the action to plan and block off time for those highest impact and top priority items in our days, weeks and months?
More often than not, I think we fit in those items when it is most convenient to do so, or when we have a burst of motivation. I just don’t believe we can rely on that approach to consistently make the massive impacts that we want to have in our lives.
I know that I have not truly owned my time in an effort to build the foundation to make my impact in the world – yet. So as a first step to achieving greater control over my life and future success, I decided to take on an ideal week exercise and begin to better manage my time across all priorities in my life – family, friends, work, personal/professional development, health and nutrition.
Once I have a complete product, I’ll be sure to update this post and share. For now, I’ll walk through some of the steps I am actively taking to build the foundation for my ideal week that I hope can help and inspire you to begin taking greater control of your time and as a result, your life!
Guidelines for planning your best week:
- Know your goals – first, review the list of your weekly, monthly and annual goals (or make one if it doesn’t exist) – these should be themed by physical / health, professional and personal; you will want these goals top of mind as you begin prioritizing your time
- Take inventory – begin to take inventory of where you spend your time and energy over the course of a few weeks to make sure those time investments are in alignment with your values and what you stand for (if they are not in alignment, begin to take note of what you can trim in the future)
“Saying ‘yes’ to one thing means saying ‘no’ to everything else.”
- Schedule and design your morning to build the foundation for success – take time to get your mindset dialed in – are you jumping out of bed and going from 0-60MPH in under 5 seconds? If so, get ready to crash and burn. Schedule the time to mentally prepare yourself for the demands ahead.
- Ensure more than your professional activities and responsibilities are reflected in your schedule – prioritize your personal activities as well – family time, social time with friends, and of course fitness – it’s too easy to let those work blocks of time bleed into other areas of your calendar that should be dedicated to other things.
- Schedule a healthy balance of ‘down time’ to off-set the time when you are ‘on your game’ – maybe it’s time to get a massage, reading, take a vacation, watch your favorite sports team at home or in person – whatever helps you recharge – schedule it!
- Plan your physical activity – keep your body primed for the demands of your life and find the days and times which will work best to be active
- Feed your spirit – plan activities to stoke the inner fire that drives your passion and purpose – whatever it is (religious service, volunteering, prayer, meditation, journaling, etc.) – schedule it and get it in
- Wrap up your day intentionally and prepare for the next – be sure to schedule an end of day ritual so you can reflect on today’s successes and challenges while planning to go after the opportunities of tomorrow – never end your day scratching your head about what you accomplished again!
- Be ready to adapt – this ideal week exercise is not a one and done activity. As your life evolves, so will your priorities and the demands on your time – continue to evaluate this schedule and remember it is ‘ideal’ and in life, ‘things happen’. Be flexible and be sure to enjoy your life!
Post Game Huddle
I hope these steps and guidelines help you take the first steps towards taking better control of your time and shaping the journey ahead.
Our time is a valuable resource and will either be used by us or used by others. It is my sincere hope that we all use our valuable time to be true to ourselves and make sure we prioritize the time and resources to move us closer to our goals and vision for the future.
By owning and prioritizing our time, I 100% believe that it will give us the fire and energy to continue to build our optimal life and self, and in so doing, give our absolute best to those around us.
Own your time, be your best and make your impact.
Discussion Question: What is one priority area of your life, that if scheduled, would have the biggest impact on your life? Exercise? Financial Planning / Budgeting? Goal Setting? Dedicated Family Time? Whatever it is, get it scheduled and commit to maximizing your time and making great things happen.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."