Managing your day — tips and tricks from an author, father, and creator
One of the most popular questions I get from clients and others centers around, ‘How do you get so much done?’
As I hear that question, I reflect on my habits and days to see just what I am doing different than others. We all have the same 24 hours; the same amount of daylight; and the same pulling forces of family, friends, bills, health, and passions. So if we all have the same forces pulling on us, the same time, and the same potential, why are some achieving different levels of production?
I think the framing of the question opens the possibility of two counter forces, both of which are in our control — thankfully!
What are you putting out in the world?
No matter what you are passionate about and seek to make, you are the project manager, architect, and the author. Each of these roles must exist in order for you to produce, and these behaviors exist across every aspect of your life.
Project manager — You command your schedule. You govern time, how you divide it up, and where you start + end. Let’s build up a simple 24 hour plan to maximize your time:
8 Hours for sleep (This is ideal, 7 is absolute minimum)
9 Hours for a classic job in the world (8am-5pm)
2 Hours for meals, ideally with friends 2/3 meals
1 Hour for training (join a CrossFit gym and you’ll be golden)
20 Hours of the day, now life’s extras:
1–3 Hours with your kiddo (playing at the park, helping with homework, 1–1 with them)
1–4 Hours with your partner
:30 mins — 1 hour for reading
1 Hour to write an article online or to make 5–10 pages of your new book
1 Hour to record a podcast + post produce + post online
1 Hour for spiritual time (church, yoga, journaling)
1–2 Hours play a sport (Kickball, Running Group)
So, 20 hours is the full day if we give ourselves the best foundation of a great life — health, finances, friendship, and professional dedication to a career you love. That leaves an extra four hours a day during the week for all of these additional passions. If you are married/dating and or have kids, you’ll gladly get to use the remaining time to be actively with them (that doesn’t mean in same building, but in motion together). Even then, you’ll have an hour+ to tinker, create, and try new things.
Weekends — well those are the best because now, my 9 hours to work goes straight to experiences (rock climbing, skydiving with my daughter, making / crafting, writing, more physical experiences outside — cycling / swimming, and such. The amount of life to enjoy is so great, if you only take a moment to see what is possible and the ABUNDANCE OF TIME we have each day.
It only demands that you respect the time you are given and like a project manager, set a framework. This is the structure I use today. It’ll change. I am not married or with someone, and when I have my daughter I am all in. I appreciate every second I have in the day, and when I can be with others I gladly enjoy that time.
What I avoid — television, complaining circles, meetings (I work very hard to create work sessions, let’s solve things on a call and not create work for its own purpose), alcohol, bars, traffic (truth, I would rather leave my house 2 hours earlier than when an office opens and work at a coffee shop than sit in traffic), and consumption without a purpose.
Where is your time going? When we look at our days we often recognize that somedays just vanish. Before we know it, the clock is rolling past 10pm and we haven’t checked off our Top 5 for the day! What happened. Why?
The biggest culprit the thief of life and your passions is how you are consuming media. You must choose what media you are consuming and don’t let it choose you. Here are popular pitfalls, and then some powerful tactics to free you from these thieves of life.
Television — Average folks consume 3–4 hours A DAY of television, that wipes out all of your creative time + steals an hour from your MOST IMPORTANT areas of life too!
Youtube Rabbit holes & Social Media — The amount of youtube and social media scrolling folks do is so important that now most cellphone providers make it a point to tell you how much “screen time” you are consuming on your device. These platforms and devices CAN provide immense value and benefit, but given how our minds respond on these platforms use these with a TIMER, or a schedule. The easiest way to enjoy these guilt free is simply allocate the time and do it consciously. Be careful here though — as sometimes we can get caught consuming on these platforms when we actually were there to create and post updates for our brands, businesses, and family’s benefit.
Negative complaining Circles — you know those people. Those friends / colleagues you get together with after work, in the lunch room, and other spots where it is a straight on venting of bitching and complaining. Nothing happens as a result, it is just letting off steam as they say .. or is it? I believe that is not the case — it is only spreading negativity, helping others find their own similar problems and continues complaining. (How often have you sat at a table and heard one person complain and then EVERYBODY piles in with more complaints, it happens. There is an empathy component here but spinning this flywheel is poison). People do have true problems and need advice and support — those are not the complaining circles referred here, that is someone seeking help and others coming together to support that person and bring forward ideas to grow past the pain, almost like a work session.
There are more areas, but let’s keep it to these big three. As you become self aware the better quality of life you will live, and the more you will have time to live in your own space.
Takeways and how to transform your days to recover your days / life
How we think about our day begins with knowledge on where our time is going and structuring it in a way that ensures our MOST IMPORTANT areas of life are addressed. I have structured the most important around health (sleep #1, fitness, and food) to ensure we live the longest quality life possible. Next we have our bills and hopefully passions paired together at a job of some kind. After this we have 4 hours to squeeze the most out of life.
It is your choice, but remember if you use these 4 hours as you design — that equates to 50 DAYS a year towards your passions, family, and building up your ideas and dreams. (4 hours a day * 300 days a year / 24).
#1 way to become self aware of your day that I have others do (and I do once or twice a month), is to write down a journal of every minute of your day in a book. Note the time you start and begin writing to the right what you have done in that time. When you switch write the end time, and start a new entry. I use a moleskin book here and usually consume 1.5–2 pages when I use it as a single line entry.
At the end of the day you’ll have a visual of your time and can compare it against your day’s goals. As I see my time get stolen, I see my goals missed and vice versa.
The most important message here — you are in control, it is your responsibility to win the day, and it is your ability to reset tomorrow and adjust. You have all the power, and control however you spend those hours — as long as it is by your design, you are on the path to happiness and success.
Have other ways of self discovery? Let me know!
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I am a father, study of human behavior, strategist, cybersecurity veteran, and a coach and mentor on a journey to give more than I receive everyday. I lead teams globally, build products, and daily an executive for a leading company where I serve the largest companies in the world using the largest cloud deployments in the world impacting the financial services, healthcare, and fintech industries. I provide these publications and content through my media agency to deliver insights and advantages. Mindset, mental strength, mentorship, personal improvement, health, fitness, and humanist ideas are drawn from personal research and practice. Everything read and heard is my original works and my own perspective. All rights reserved for noted authors and sources. I produce research and strategy, as well as provide advisory services that include inquiries, briefings, consulting projects, and presentations on published findings as well as bespoke speaking engagements where I often keynote at conferences, seminars, and roundtables annually.