If you set some goals for 2023 you started your year right. But all goals need one thing to complete.
Today's issue looks at the best way to create space to do your best work.
Before we start:
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The Power of Routine
Getting things done takes time.
Every goal you’ve set, every task you want to complete. You need to take time to do it.
Long term goals, like writing a book or building a house take time that you return to again and again. If its important you do it every day.
If you don’t create a repeating time to work on the things you value, and only do them when you “feel like it”, then you are setting the stage for failure. This is why most people never fully achieve their goals. They state the intention, but don’t take the next step to create the space to actually do the work.
The best way to minimize the friction of starting is by creating repeating routines. Do the thing you said you’d do at the same time and same place. Every. Damn. Day.
And if you really want to see results then track those routines. Collect the data.
The greatest routine tracking tool ever created is the Calendar.
Your Ideal Week
You have a minimum of seven time slots in every day in which to build different routines.
Read about them here:
You can start simple, and create yourself a nice little morning routine. You’ll see results.
Or you can go all in, decide in advance what the ideal use of your time is, and work your calendar like a pro.
A fully time blocked calendar represents your ideal week. This is how you would spend your time while making sure to meet all obligations, and creating space for all of your goals.
Here is how to set it up in Google Calendar (the GOAT!)
NOTE - For each calendar entry you’ll be adding one of the following tags in the description:
You’ll also choose a consistent color for each of those 6 categories.
I’ll explain why at the end ;)
Step 1 - Start with Sleep
Good sleep = great results.
The best way to get a great night’s sleep is to go to bed at the same time every night, stay in bed long enough to meet your sleep requirement, and wake up at the same time in the morning.
Create a block that starts at bedtime and ends at wake up. Then:
Finally, use the duplicate function to copy it to every day of the week.
Step 2 - Add a Weekly Review
The weekly review is one of the most powerful habits you can build.
Without the review you are just making a colorful calendar. With it you are opening a feedback loop that drives results. It’s your MOST important block of the week. Schedule it.
Step 3 - Existing Obligations
You may have recurring weekly appointments.
Ball games, meetings, the dentist.
Enter these next so you have full awareness of your available time.
Step 4 - Focus on Yourself
We all have personal goals and aspirations. But hope is not a strategy. These things need TIME to complete.
Block some dedicated time to work on these, outside of office hours. These will usually fall sometime towards the beginning or end of the day, depending on your preference and energy levels. Maybe a short routine at lunch.
You can create more than one.
Step 5 - Focus on Fitness
Health is wealth.
A strong body leads to a strong mind. And like everything else, the best way to achieve this is through routine.
Schedule time 7 days/wk. Some weights, some cardio, some recovery. Not every day is a maximum effort. Take rest where needed. But start with no days off.
Aim to do something active every day.
Step 6 - Focus on Family
The #life tag is for two things:
If you have kids or a significant other than a lot of time needs to be scheduled to keep things running smoothly.
This is a big bucket, and is where you manage your relationships. Give it enough space.
Step 7 - Focus on Work
Finally, we get to the spot where everyone else starts from. This is on purpose.
Your work is valuable and important. But it is not more important than you, your health, or your family. Remember that.
To start, just block your entire workday into one big block. Don’t worry about capturing every little thing.
As time goes on and you get better at Time Blocking you’ll start creating individual blocks to manage your workday.
You might also create a “deep work” block where you tackle your Most Important Task of the day. Same time, same place.
Step 8 - Focus on Maintenance
This is the second part of the #life tag.
Life happens. You can be proactive about it and build in some time, or be reactive and have it totally throw off your schedule.
Your future self will thank you.
Step 9 - Focus on Community
Spend some time building yours. Leave your world a better place. This could be a club, volunteer work, or even an online community that you regularly participate in.
Block the time you need to consistently contribute.
Step 10 - Appreciate the White Space
Take a step back and look at the week you have outlined. Note the white space.
This is what gives you flexibility to shift your schedule and adjust to unexpected events.
Remember, the goal is not to be a slave to the calendar. The goal is to manage your time with intention to fulfill your life’s vision.
Adjust on the fly as needed.
Bonus Step - Copy Paste
Creating your ideal week takes a bit of work. You don’t want to build it from scratch every time.
Download the chrome add-on gCal Extras. This will let you copy and paste an entire range of dates.
Copy your ideal week and paste it forward.
This way you always start a fresh week ready to go.
So what’s with the #tags?
I’ve created a data visualizer that pulls the data from your Google Calendar into a spreadsheet.
This shows you how much of your time is spent in each category. You can use this data to make adjustments during your weekly reviews, which in turn helps you reach your goals faster.
I’ll be giving away a free copy of this in the next few weeks.
Make sure you are subscribed to the newsletter, and follow me on Twitter @SeanPHogue to be notified when it gets released.
You’ve built your ideal week. Now go and live it.
When a time block starts do what you planned to do. Nothing else.
Spend a little time each day updating the calendar for how life actually went.
Review it weekly. Adjust and improve.
Remember – everything you do takes time. If you haven’t given these things space on your calendar, they won’t get done.
I know this was a big issue, and I appreciate your time.
Feel free to DM me on Twitter if you have any questions on implementing your ideal week.
Yours in Productivity
This is what my ideal week looks like.
It took a whole year of work to get it dialed in to this point. And the return on effort has been tremendous.
When you are ready, here are a few ways I can help:
1. Subscribe to my newsletter, The Lever
This covers a core time managment and productivity concept every week, in about five minutes.
Sign up at SeanHogue.com/thelever (or use the form below.)
2. Grab a copy of my book.
Peaceful Productivity outlines the time-management system I've created over the years as a ship's Captain and business executive. It will help you plan, prioritize, and get more of the right things done.
Smart systems to make you productive, prolific, and profitable | Find me on Twitter @SeanPHogue | Sign up here for the weekly newsletter, The Lever, and create some leverage in your life.