I need to learn to wake board. I should start a side business. I’ve been working on this brick fireplace for three years and can’t finish. I wish I could learn Mandarin. I really have to start exercising soon.
I don’t have enough time to do the things I want to do. I’m SO busy. There’s so much going on.
I feel that. People have children to deal with, unexpected life events, ridiculous work schedules, and they need some down time in between too (Harry Potter movie marathon anyone?).
The key to it all is maintaining a tight schedule... duh. Nothing you haven’t heard before. But I’ve got two little tricks, maybe stuff you’ve heard before but maybe not, that help me stick to keeping a tight schedule on a long-term basis… so I can be working on touring my one-man show, three new book series, consulting work, the beginnings of writing a new one-man show, and some down time in between—all at the same time.
1) Be the Chief and not the Hungry Hunter—Schedule your time at least one week in advance. This is assuming you schedule your time at all, which you should. If you wake up on any given day and map out what you want done, it tends to be an exercise in putting out fires of the immediate and the seemingly urgent—rather than a process in keeping one eye in the moment and one eye on the future. Or, in terms of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, it’s the difference of waking up and eating what you kill that very day, versus planning out how, when, and where you’re going to gather food for the tribe for the next week. In the former you’re the hungry hunter constantly chasing, while in the latter you’re able to be the Chief in planning for higher level activities like building a nice shelter, irrigation for the tribe, and building grain silos.
2) In case of Fire, Break Glass and… Schedule contingency time. Example: I know I need to get X, Y, Z done this week. I loaded up all my work on Monday though Thursday and even scheduled in my down time. While going through the week, I found that I played too hard on Wednesday (totally cool). I worked too long on X and Y on Thursday because I was in the zone. I even had an unexpected doctor visit on Tuesday.
But in my calendar when I was planning my week, I gave myself a block of time on Friday 2-6pm, as contingency time—time to work on all my leftovers from the week. So, I’m still able to complete most if not all of my tasks for the week. I don’t feel guilty for missing out on certain things throughout the week. And I’m able to work, play, and leave time for unexpected events—making for a well-rounded existence.
We all have 1440 minutes in the day—might as well put all of them to good use.
I hope these two little tricks are helpful.